PVT Bernard Lee Morris
279th Replacement Company 85th Infantry
KIA 2/11/45, LST 577 in Philippine Sea,
Latitude 8 degrees 0 seconds North,
Longitude 130 degrees 8 seconds East
-- Tommy Morris --
My father was born February 4, 1916, in Goodson, Polk Co., MO. He was the fourth of five children born to
Jesse Clayborne Morris and Mary Addie (Brooks) Morris. In California on June 6, 1939, he married Ruth Alene
Montgomery of Slater, Saline Co, MO, and a mother with 2 young girls. On October 22, 1940, I was born in
Oxnard, Ventura Co., CA.
On May 1, 1944 he was inducted into the United States Army. From 3 May to 19 Oct, 1944 he was in basic training
at Camp Roberts, CA (Company C, 4th Platoon, 85th Infantry Training Bn.) He was at Fort Ord, CA, Nov 1-21, 1944.
Before shipping out, my father adopted my older sisters Charlene Sue (Morris) Turman and Mari Diane Morris, as he
wanted them to be taken care of if anything should happen to him. My mother never told me this fact. But, in the
late forties, I discovered their early school report cards. I recall thinking at the time, "Oh, they had a different
father. No big deal." I never mentioned this to my mother because it made no difference to me. As grownups, both of
my sisters said that they only thought of "Daddy Lee" as their father.
Reported December 31, 1947 "Case History for Remains Considered Non-recoverable" and March 29, 1948 "Recovery and
Identification of Remains Not Yet Accounted For" QMGMS 293 (Pacific): on February 11, 1945, reported missing in action
aboard the LST 577 while the ship was sailing from Hollandia New Guinea to the Philippine Islands; at approximately
9:10 A.M. ships time, the ship was attacked by enemy submarine and received two direct hits amidships; explosion
broke the vessel in half and the entire stern section sank in a period of seconds (about 30 seconds), trapping
everyone inside; not reported among the survivors, and no burial report is on file at Headquarters American Graves
Registration Service Far Eastern Zone; location of submarine attack on LST 577 was Latitude 8 degrees 0 seconds North,
Longitude 130 degrees 8 seconds East (located in open sea east of Mindanao and north of New Guinea approximately
300 miles from Leyte, P.I.); total of 85 personnel were MIA on LST 577 (226 survivors); recommended that the remains
be considered non-recoverable, and all records pertaining to search and recovery of the remains be closed.
Two letters were received by my mother from buddies on board the LST: Pvt. Thomas Moss 38693633 279th Repl Co APO 320
San Francisco wrote: "I knew Lee as a very loyal & dear friend, a good soldier and one that had many friends in the
Co" (dated 29 March 1945, post marked APR 1, 1945); Pvt. Norman Moore 34886895 Bldg C497 AAA Gen Bar APO 322 San
Francisco wrote: "Lee was a very near & close friend of mine for the short time I knew him." (dated 16 April 1945,
post marked APR 28, 1945).
My father's nickname was "Runt", and he loved to play basketball. I have his Missouri Standard Athletics First/Second
Awards medal and 1930 Southern California Junior Olympic Games basketball medal mounted with my daughter's AAU Junior
Olympics basketball medal.
In 1962, while visiting my grandparents in Missouri, I took a picture of the basketball rim where he use to practice.
It was a barrel rim nailed to a tree in front of the old farmhouse. Only about 8-10 inches of the rim was left exposed,
as the tree had grown through it. I guess subconsciously this may be why I have always loved basketball.
Through all the years of my growing up, no one talked much about my father. Since then, I have learned that his death
was very painful for everyone. He could have gotten out of going into the Army because of his work, but he volunteered.
I don't have many recollections of him, or stories. I should have pressed the issue to learn more about him. I do
recall the special relationship that I had with his oldest brother, Uncle Brooks Morris. It seemed as though we had
an unspoken bond between us.
I do have some treasures that were his, or that he had sent while overseas. My most prized treasure is a solid bracelet
made out of the pliable skin from a Japanese airplane with "Tommy" etched on the outside and "Daddy" on the inside.
In October of 1999, I visited two of my father's cousins, one on my grandpa's side and one on my grandma's side. Each
told me very similar remembrances. Thelma Fern (Morris) Carson, being the same age, said that he was like a brother
to her at school and at play. Glen D. Breshears, being 4 years younger, said that he was like an older brother to him.
My Aunt Margie Marie (McIntosh) Morris, who married his older brother, Arlie Dea Morris, was also my father's age and
went through school with him. She says that Runt had a gentle spirit about him and was kind to everyone. Our year
2000 Christmas card had a family picture taken at my daughter's wedding that October. Aunt Margie said that my son
in the picture reminded her of my father.
Aunt Margie also said that he loved pineapple upside down cake. Whenever he visited, he would always beg her to make
one for him. I remember lots of pineapple upside down cakes throughout my childhood, but thought that there were so
many because they were the easiest kind to bake by my mother or sisters. I recently asked my sister Diane if the
reason for our having pineapple upside down cakes was due to it being our father's favorite. She had never heard
that story. Maybe this WAS the real reason?
I am now 60 years old and am still learning about my father.