Melvin Morris was a Green Beret in the 5th Special Forces Group who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions against Communist forces in Vietnam on September 17, 1969.
Originally awarded a Distinguished Service Cross, the Defense Authorization Act mandated that the military look at the actions of African-Americans, Jewish-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, and other minority veterans from World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War to ensure that no prejudice was shown to those deserving the Medal of Honor. Morris’s award was therefore upgraded to the Medal of Honor.
Morris was born in Okmulgee, Oklahoma, on January 7, 1942. In an interview with American Battlefield Trust, Morris described the limited opportunities available to him back in those days.
“I come from Oklahoma, a place called Okmulgee, capital of the Creek Nation. There wasn’t much going on there in the ’50s, no work to speak of. My first was job was working at the bowling alley; I think I made 65 cents an hour. I said, ‘No, this isn’t going to cut it.’ And my brother and I both went into the military because the National Guard was recruiting minorities.”