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BETHESDA, Md. -- A Sailor was awarded the Bronze Star with Combat "V" in a ceremony Aug. 27 at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for his valorous conduct during Operation Enduring Freedom.
Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Technician 2nd Class (Diver) Taylor J. Morris is a quadruple amputee who was wounded in May. He is enrolled in Navy Safe Harbor, the Navy's wounded warrior program. Rear Adm. Frank A. Morneau, deputy director for Expeditionary Warfare Division (N95B), presented the medal.
"I think when we were all young men and women, and we aspired to put on this uniform, we aspired to be like Taylor. To answer the call, to do what is right, and to go in the face of harm's way," Morneau said.
"In the midst of everything going on - the surge in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2007 - Taylor decided, I'm going to raise my right hand ... And I'm going to go into the breach," Morneau said while describing his admiration for Morris. "He said, I'm going to stare this enemy down in the face ... And I won't just deter his actions, I'll defeat his actions. That's the kind of hero we've got here today, folks."
Morris was cited for exceptionally valorous conduct May 3 while serving with the Special Operations Task Force-South at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. While part of the lead clearing element for a combat reconnaissance patrol, Morris was struck by an improvised explosive device (IED) in an abandoned compound. Though he sustained catastrophic injuries to all four limbs, he continued to report to his EOD team leader the details of the procedures he was conducting at the time of detonation, as well as what other hazards may still exist.
Morris, a native of Cedar Falls, Iowa, joined the Navy in 2007. He currently is recovering at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center with support from his girlfriend, Danielle Kelly, and his parents, Daniel and Juli. His injuries required the amputation of both legs, his left arm, and his right hand. He also is a Purple Heart recipient.
After receiving the medal, Morris sad, "I just want to say one thing if I could: If I had hands, I'd take this off and pin it on Danielle, because she's helped me through everything, and it's been so hard. She's been there the whole time."
While describing Morris's bravery during combat, Morneau referenced President Ronald Regan's inspirational speech at the cliffs of Pointe du Hoc. He quoted Stephen Spender's poetry, telling Morris that he "fought for life and left the vivid air signed with your honor."
The Bronze Star Medal is awarded to an individual who, while serving in or with the military of the United States, distinguishes him or herself by heroic or meritorious achievement while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States or while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force.
Care for wounded warriors like Morris is a key component of the Department of the Navy's 21st Century Sailor and Marine initiative, which is designed to maximize Sailor and Marine personal readiness, build resiliency, and hone the most combat-effective force.