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George Stephen Morrison
Nickname Steve
Born (1919-01-07)January 7, 1919
Died November 17, 2008(2008-11-17) (aged 89)
Place of birth Rome, Georgia, U.S.
Place of death Coronado, California, U.S.
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service 1938–1975
Rank US Navy O8 infobox.svg Rear Admiral
Commands held USS Bon Homme Richard

World War II

Korean War
Vietnam War

George Stephen Morrison (January 7, 1919 – November 17, 2008) was a United States Navy rear admiral (upper half) and naval aviator. Morrison was commander of the U.S. naval forces in the Gulf of Tonkin during the Gulf of Tonkin Incident of August 1964, which sparked an escalation of American involvement in the Vietnam War. He was the father of Jim Morrison, the lead singer of the rock band The Doors, who died in July 1971.[1][2][3][4]

Early life and education[edit | edit source]

Born in Rome, Georgia, Morrison was the son of Caroline (née Hoover; 1891–1984) and Paul Raymund Morrison (1886–1971), and raised in Leesburg, Florida.[3] He entered the U.S. Naval Academy in 1938, graduated in 1941, and was commissioned an ensign. Sent to Hawaii, he joined the crew of the minelayer USS Pruitt.[5] On December 7, 1941, Morrison witnessed the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor.[4]

Career[edit | edit source]

Captain Morrison and his son Jim on the bridge of the Bon Homme Richard in January 1964

He began flight training in 1943 at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, and graduated in spring 1944. Morrison flew missions in the Pacific Theater for the duration of World War II.[5]

He served as an instructor on nuclear weapons programs following the end of the war, while during the Korean War, he served at the joint operations center in Seoul. This resulted in the award of the Bronze Star with "V" for Valor device.[4]

In 1963, Morrison took command of the Essex-class aircraft carrier USS Bon Homme Richard, flagship of a 3rd Fleet Carrier Division in the Pacific, and based at Naval Air Station Alameda, California. Morrison was in command of the Carrier Division during the controversial Gulf of Tonkin Incident in August 1964, which resulted effectively in the true beginning of the Vietnam War by President Lyndon Johnson.[6]

In 1967, he was promoted to Rear Admiral.[4]

In 1967, in one article in the British paper, The Telegraph, it is unofficially reported by some that Morrison vehemently opposed the US response to, and findings of, the USS Liberty incident which exonerated Israel of malice. Morrison did not rise in rank again after his outspoken criticism of Israeli intentions.[7]

In WestPac in 1968, he was Commander of Task Force 77; the USS Hancock served as his flagship. Besides operations against communist forces in North Vietnam, the task force was diverted to Korea in December 1968 to support South Korean forces battling North Korean infiltrators during the Korean DMZ Conflict. He successfully led the Task Force in the interdiction of communist North Korean forces in spite of attempts by Soviet Navy destroyers to prevent flight operations by attempting to cross the path of the Hancock.[citation needed] In 1972, he was appointed Commander Naval Forces Marianas.[8] As such, he was in charge of relief efforts for Vietnamese refugees sent to Guam after the fall of Saigon in the spring of 1975.[9][10][11][12][13]

Rear Admiral Morrison was the keynote speaker at the decommissioning ceremony for the carrier Bon Homme Richard, his first ship as an admiral, on July 2, 1971 in Washington D.C.. His estranged son, rock musician Jim Morrison, died in Paris at age 27 the following day.[14]

Morrison retired from the Navy in August 1975 as a rear admiral (upper half).[9]

Awards and decorations[edit | edit source]

Rear Admiral Morrison was a recipient of the following military decorations and service medals, the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit with Gold Star, the Bronze Star Medal with "V" for Valor device (Korean War), Air Medal with two Gold Stars and the Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon (World War II), the American Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with three Bronze Stars, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, National Defense Service Ribbon with Bronze Star, Korean Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (Taiwan Straits), Korean Presidential Unit Citation Medal and the United Nations Service Medal.

Naval Aviator Badge.jpg
Gold star
Gold star
Gold star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Badge Naval Aviator insignia
1st Row Navy Distinguished Service Medal Legion of Merit with star Bronze Star Medal with "V" device
2nd Row Air Medal with two stars Presidential Unit Citation American Defense Service Medal
3rd Row American Campaign Medal Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with three stars European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal
4th Row World War II Victory Medal National Defense Service Medal with one star Korean Service Medal
5th Row Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal Korea Presidential Unit Citation United Nations Service Medal

Personal life[edit | edit source]

Morrison met and married Clara Virginia Clarke (1919–2005) in Hawaii in 1942. Their son James Douglas (later, lead singer of rock band The Doors) was born in late 1943 in Melbourne, Florida, where they lived at the time while stationed at Naval Air Station Melbourne.[5] A daughter, Anne Robin, was born in 1947 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and became a school teacher in Thousand Oaks, California,[15] and a son, Andrew Lee Morrison, was born in 1948 in Los Altos, California, and lives in Pahoa, Hawaii.[14][16]

Retirement and final years[edit | edit source]

In retirement, the Morrisons lived in Coronado and Chula Vista, California. Clara Clarke Morrison, 86, died after a long illness in Coronado on December 29, 2005. Rear Admiral Morrison died in Coronado on November 17, 2008. His private memorial service was held on November 24 at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego. His ashes were scattered at sea near the same spot off Point Loma where his wife's ashes had been scattered nearly three years earlier.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Jim Morrison’s Father and The Gulf of Tonkin Incident. The Doors Examiner 2017
  2. McGowen, Dave (8 May 2008). "Inside The LC: The Strange but Mostly True Story of Laurel Canyon and the Birth of the Hippie Generation" (Best of the Web). https://www.sott.net/article/155794-Inside-The-LC-The-Strange-but-Mostly-True-Story-of-Laurel-Canyon-and-the-Birth-of-the-Hippie-Generation-Part-1. Retrieved 22 October 2019. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Steve Liewer (November 28, 2008). "George 'Steve' Morrison; rear admiral flew combat missions in lengthy career". http://legacy.signonsandiego.com/news/obituaries/20081128-9999-1m28morrison.html. Retrieved September 6, 2010. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Grimes, William (December 8, 2008). "George S. Morrison, Admiral and Singer’s Father, Dies at 89". https://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/09/us/09morrison.html?_r=1. Retrieved September 6, 2010. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Livepress encyclopedia[dead link] retrieved April 8, 2008
  6. "Tonkin Gulf Crisis, August 1964". Department Of The Navy. Archived from the original on 28 December 2002. https://web.archive.org/web/20021228034058/http://www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq120-1.htm. 
  7. "The USS Liberty Incident". The Telegraph. 9 June 2009. Archived from the original on 10 July 2014. https://web.archive.org/web/20140710053341/http://my.telegraph.co.uk/silurian/silurian/10008355/The_USS_Liberty_Incident__1967/. 
  8. "Rear Admiral George S. Morrison, ComNavMarianas. October 1, 1972 (Photographs)". libweb.hawaii.edu. http://libweb.hawaii.edu/digicoll/ttp/ttp_htms/3226.html. Retrieved 6 September 2010. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 "Rear-Admiral George Morrison: father of Jim Morrison". The New York Times. December 11, 2008. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/obituaries/article5321027.ece. Retrieved 6 September 2010. 
  10. "Guam, Washington need each other" (Press Dispatches). 1 May 1975. p. 1. Archived from the original on 10 December 2015. https://web.archive.org/web/20151210205727/https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=twQqAAAAIBAJ&sjid=YykEAAAAIBAJ&pg=3741%2C188809. Retrieved 9 June 2015. 
  11. "Viet art to go back to owner". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Washington. 29 May 1975. p. 27. https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=MZJYAAAAIBAJ&sjid=dvgDAAAAIBAJ&pg=3564%2C3986844. 
  12. "New camp to get Guam Vietnamese". Washington. 27 May 1975. p. 15. https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=L5JYAAAAIBAJ&sjid=dvgDAAAAIBAJ&pg=7088%2C2982707. 
  13. Prina, L. Edgar (9 June 1975). "Morrison undaunted by refugee operation". Kingsport, Tennessee. p. 4. https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=1XRTAAAAIBAJ&sjid=8YUDAAAAIBAJ&pg=3755%2C7260185. 
  14. 14.0 14.1 "Jim Morrison’s dad had a hand in starting the Vietnam War". Business Insider. 14 March 2016. https://www.businessinsider.com/jim-morrisons-dad-had-a-hand-in-starting-the-vietnam-war-2016-3. "keynote speaker at the decommissioning ceremony for Bon Homme Richard in Washington D.C. the same day his son Jim, the rock icon, died" 
  15. "All in the Family: A brother-in-law remembers Jim". http://www.americanlegends.com/morrison/allinthefamily.html. 
  16. "Jim Morrison". The Biography Channel. Archived from the original on 20 September 2010. https://web.archive.org/web/20100920045423/http://www.thebiographychannel.co.uk/biographies/jim-morrison.html. Retrieved 6 September 2010. 

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