Arym SSG Daniel Marshall Morris is the first resident of Clinton and AndersonCounty to die in the Iraq war. Morris was killed when a roadside bomb exploded near his Humvee.
The 28-year old soldier was born May 15, 1978 in Oak Ridge and grew up in South Clinton.
He is pictured while serving in Iraq.
Daniel Morris enjoys a Thanksgiving meal in 2005 at Fort Hood, Texas. He was stationed at Fort Hood after he completed basic training at Fort Benning, Ga. in Jan 2000.
Morris with his family in 1999, just before he
enlisted in the army. From the left counter clockwise is his father Glenn, his mother Amy, his daughter Alexys, his sister
Cassidy, his brother Adam and Morris.
"If Daniel cried, you knew he was in a lot of pain," she said.
said he kept up a brave front until the very end. Daniel told his mom to say these words if he should die on the battlefield:
"You tell them I love God. I love my country. I love protecting my country. I died doing what I loved."
said her son was behind President George Bush 100 percent, which is why he reenlisted this year. She said that's why she can't
speak against the war. "How he feels is what I feel,"
Amy admitted there were times she wanted to call President Bush and ask him to send her son home. Amy said Daniel would tease
her and tell her that George wouldn't to listen to her anyways.
served with pride," she said.
well up in Amy's eyes and she covers her mouth when she recalls the day she heard about his death. At on Sunday Amy
heard her dog barking outside. She went to her window to see what was going on.
army officials were walking towards her door. She knew what the news would be. They started their announcement with the infamous
words: "We regret to inform you that Staff Sgt. Morris has died…"
are very nice," said Amy about the officials. " But they are so formal."
last time Amy talked with Daniel was right before he left for Iraq
in September. The last time she saw him was in June, when he came home to celebrate his daughter Alexys' 10th birthday.
said the army officials came to his residence at He said he went into denial when
he saw the officials arriving at his doorstep.
hoping that they are going to tell you he is wounded," Glenn said.
last time Glenn saw Daniel was in July when he visited FortHood. The last time he talked with Daniel was two weeks ago.
said Alexys is holding up well and has declared she now has two angels: her father and her deceased dog Astro.
a trouper," said Cassidy, Daniel's sister. "She is just like her daddy."
said Daniel loved his family and kept in touch them via telephone and email. Amy admits that she hasn't erased nine messages
from Daniel that sit on her answering machine.
brother Adam described his older brother as "quiet" and "goofy." His sister Cassidy would agree that Daniel was goofy.
liked to tease her, a price she had to pay for being the only girl and the middle child. She remembered an incident where
Daniel took a picture of her with her hair up in rollers. He liked to show the picture to his army buddies.
a glint of humor in her eyes, Cassidy said Daniel was the one who always picked on her.
would start it," she said. "I would never start it."
chuckles at her daughter's statement.
rarely argued," said Amy.
said her son not only loved his family and his country, but had a love for God, too.
was more religious than any of us," she said with laughter.
said when Daniel joined the service he found religion when he served in Germany. This is the same kid who his father described as "wild" in his high school years.
said Daniel became stronger within himself and his beliefs.
felt God was calling him to re-enlist," she said.
said her son wanted to go to Bible college to become a minister. He was an active member of New Testament Christian Church
said her son was a "working Christian." She said he liked to invite people to church. She added he purchased a car just so
he could drive people to church services.
said it's ironic that her quiet-spoken son chose to be a sergeant and a preacher, two professions that require speaking up.
said people would say to her, 'How's he going to be a preacher? You can't understand him. How's he going to be a sergeant?
He doesn't speak up.'
also laughs at the irony.
guess he kept it balled up for special occasions," he said.
said a month before his death Daniel had an opportunity work as a chaplain assistant. He asked his mother to mail him some
voice broke when she mentioned a case of Bibles was still sitting in her car, waiting to be mailed.
said Daniel didn't talk much about his experiences in Iraq. He would say to
Amy, 'Mom you don't want to know.'
on the other hand, made it his business to know what his son was up to.
had a boy out there," he said.
became familiar with military terms, followed the news closely and could determine where Daniel might be deployed next.
said his son once told him he knew more than he did.
the interview, Glenn announces to the family that he just read an email sent by Daniel on Nov. 23rd. When the family heard
the message, they were visibly moved:
Dad, Happy Thanksgiving to you also. I was going to call you the other day, but I couldn't remember your number. I am doing
good here, and I am sure they are going to have a lot of food here for everyone.
take care of us when it comes to getting chow. It is kind of cold here, but it just lasts 'till January or February.
love and miss you all and hope you have a good Thanksgiving. Tell everyone I said 'Hi,' please. Love Daniel."