Walter Morris’ funeral at the African American Cultural Society (AACS) punctuated his high profile, being first in a unit, distinguished to be called the 555th Parachute Infantry Company, and later becoming known as the “Triple Nickle.” Mr. Morris acted as the first sergeant and had the Black soldiers emulate the White parachute students in training. Mr. Morris passed away Oct. 13. He was 92 years old.
The unit’s success became noteworthy by answering the call of the first attack on the continental U.S. as Japanese incendiary balloons had reached the Oregon area in 1945, creating massive forest fires, and killing six U.S. civilians. At the end of World War II, the Triple Nickle merged into the 82nd Airborne Division in 1947 as Gen. James M. Gavin had seen how badly the Black troops were treated.
Walter Morris and the Triple Nickles became the operatives for integrating the U.S. Army six months prior to President Truman’s signing his executive order to integrate the military. Mr. Morris was commissioned a second lieutenant for little over a year before being discharged from the Army to become the first Black construction manager of the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Project in Brooklyn, initiated by Senator Robert F. Kennedy.
Mr. Morris became a sought-after speaker and the subject of awards, print media, documentaries, and TV broadcasts – particularly by journalist/NBC news anchor Tom Brokaw – as well as CNN.
AACS President Edmund G. Pinto, Jr. officiated at Mr. Morris’ homegoing at the AACS with military chaplain the Rev. Chris Magnell’s offering the invocation and Chris Coleman of Coleman Mortuary delivering the words of comfort. Mr. Morris was a charter member of the African American Cultural Society.
Sharon Black rendered a beautiful rendition singing “The Lord’s Prayer,” and Whitney Houston’s gorgeous vocal was Whitney’s recording of “His Eye is on the Sparrow.”
Building ties, engaging in lasting relationships were Mr. Morris’ call, especially as they related to involving children, education, campaign recognition, and Black history. Mr. Morris taught lessons to his young grandson, who is now Army Major Michael A. Fowles, a paratrooper, of whom his grandfather was most pleased. Among the lessons that Mr. Morris taught was justice for all is essential to our society.
Special tributes were the testimonials by Deidra McGee, U.S. Department of Forestry; and Joe Murchison, president of the National Triple Nickle Association.
Also collaborating were William Smith, president, Morris Biggs Chapter, Triple Nickle Association, Jacksonville; Sgt. Major M. Williams Tyson, Arsenal Missiles, Rock Island, Ill.; as well as her civilian husband; and Jordan B. Corbin, a former paratrooper.
In the number were James Allen, former VFW Commandant; Master Sergeant K. Grossett-Tate, Miami-U.S. Southern Command; Larry Wiles, Flagler Beach VFW; Mike Lyde, Past President Richard W. Williams Triple Nickle Association, Columbus, Ga.; and Pastor Leroy Chandler, Pathway to Freedom Black History Exhibit, North Marion County.
Resolutions were presented to the family by Barbara Goss, Flagler County NAACP First Vice President, and Edmund G. Pinto, Jr. on behalf of the African American Cultural Society.
The military salute with the presentation of colors were attributed to the Armed Forces in attendance.
Mr. Morris leaves to cherish his memory daughters Patricia Worthy (Stefen) and Crystal Poole (Eddie), stepdaughters Verneal Corbett and Jean Lanier (Bob), in addition to grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and a host of other relatives and friends.
Chief Jones remembered at Mt. Calvary service
The bravado of Police Chief Arthur Lee Jones assimilated his “walking the walk and talking the talk,” the calling of myriad witnesses attending the chief’s memorial service.
A sterling reminder of his love of family, community, and God recently reflected the service at Mr. Calvary Baptist Church with the Rev. Edwin Coffie, pastor, officiating. The ministry of music offered up the adulation of “Pass Me Not O Gentle Savior.” Chief Jones 61, passed away Oct. 8. The final arrangements were entrusted to Karl N. Flaggg Serenity Memorial Chapel of Palatka.
The homegoing service culminated the next day at the Word of the Living God Ministry in Pompano Beach with Apostle John L. Mohorn, pastor.
Chief Jones was the first African-American to hold the position of Chief of Police for the City of Bunnell Police Department. He served from 2008 to 2012.
He was educated in Broward County, graduating from Dillard High School in 1970, and continuing at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, N.C. After entering the employ of the City of Fort Lauderdale – where he retired after 32 years of service in law enforcement, from patrolman to detective – he reached the highest rank of a practitioner in the school resource officer program, acquiring countless criminal justice training and numerous professional letters and commendations.
Chief Jones is survived by his wife, Frankie, seven grown children, and a host of other relatives and friends.
‘Devoted his life experience to helping others’
Attending the memorial were members of the clergy: the Rev. Learon Gifford, Elder Willie Durden, Elder Johnnie Lee Harris, Jr., Minister Cynthia Williams, gospel soloist; the Rev. Donnell Bryant, the Rev. Daisy Mae Henry, and Deacon Clay Simpson, Jr.
Following a request for diversity in the City of Bunnell by Edmund G. Pinto, Jr., past Police Chief Armando Martinez recommended that Arthur Lee Jones become the new Chief of Police. Edmund G. Pinto Jr., is the African American Cultural Society President.
Chief Jones “devoted his life experience to helping others; his passion encouraged youth in the community to be the best they could by striving for excellence and maintaining respect for themselves and others. Chief Jones was an overall positive force, who was respected by those who knew him.”
Others bearing witness to the chief’s dedication were former Palm Coast City Councilman/church trustee Holsey Moorman, City of Bunnell Mayor Catherine Robinson, former Flagler County NAACP President Robert Williams, Flagler County NAACP First VP Barbara Goss, and church secretary Jeanne Richardson.
As always, remember our prayers for the sick, afflicted and bereaved.
Birthday wishes to: my son, Andrew, Oct. 26; Keanna Jordan, Oct. 27; Rita Acey, Verna Johnson, Sheryl Luster, Oct. 29.