On Thursday Evening May 14th, 2015 a Bronze Statue of SFC Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient Melvin Morris was unveiled, in its new home in Brevard County Riverfront Park, Cocoa Florida. A reception was held at the Cocoa Civic Center.
SFC Morris invited Brig. Gen. Nina Armagno, commander of the 45th Space Wing at Patrick Air Force Base, to be the keynote speaker at the reception.
A Group, The Civilian Military Community Foundation raised more than 50,000 for the Brose statue working along with many in cocoa to make this great day of commemoration and unveiling happen
I would like to share with you the story of my experience of the unveiling of Melvin Morris statue in Cocoa Florida. It’s a story of American Honor, Family, Community, History, and a very humble man SFC Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient Melvin Morris.
It's not every day you find out 4 decades later you have a Hero in your hometown.
I wrote a story on SFC Melvin Morris in 2014 at an honor dinner I attended.
While at that Honor dinner in 2014 what I noticed the most among all the hustle and bustle of the crowds surrounding SFC Morris was his family.
It is evident how close knit and proud his family is of him and it was also evident how much he loves his family and how important they are to him. Most especially Melvin’s wife of 54 years, Mary Morris, a hero to SFC Morris and his family.
Not knowing what to expect, I took upon myself to show up to the unveiling in Cocoa River Front Park hoping to see a part of History unfold.
As I was driving to Cocoa for the Unveiling. I kept thinking to myself. I hope to see that wonderful family again; oh how I hope the Morris family will be there and we might cross paths again.
I parked in the bank building across from the Cocoa Civic center and started to walk as I was trying to make my way to river front Park to see the statue.
I noticed as I was walking there was much hustle and bustle outside the civic center. Dignitaries arriving and entering the building. As I walked closer past the Cocoa civic center. I saw a man opening doors for those arriving as I got closer it was none other than SFC Melvin Morris. Amazed I thought this humble man of honor outside opening a door for one of the arriving guests.
As I walked by He looked at me and smiled and gave a little wave of his hand. I did not want to be intrusive, but I certainly was no going to pass up the opportunity. As I approached closer. He said, “You want a picture”? . I said yes Sir I would love to have a picture.
I was amazed just as last year with the same humbleness of this man that served our country.
A congressional medal of honor award Recipient, a humble man that loves his family and country, being honored after all these years, noticed me in a crowd, passing by and asked if I wanted a picture.
I quickly asked a someone, anyone if they would take a picture of us. I then thanked SFC Morris as he seemed more than happy and then scurried off to try to get a look at the statue at River Front Park behind the Civic Center
That was almost all I needed to make my day, but I had to see this statue and still was wondering if the family members were there.
As I arrived to the back of the civic center in Riverfront Park I saw three great friends outside looking at the statue not unveiled yet. Barbara Schneck, Ed Lanni and Bobbi Socks. There were not many people outside and I kept trying to figure out if the few that were there were any family members.
. I went over and took some photos and got a viewing and some photos of the statue before its unveiling with my friends.
A few minutes later SFC Melvin Morris came out the back door with a few men I believe from the foundation. They walked over to the statue. There I was again with only a few friends, SFC Morris he looked over at me again. He seemed to want to stay and be by his statue. We were closed by and again but more special than ever he looked at me and at that special moment by the Statue with the same humble look in his eye. Calling out you want a picture with me by the statue. I quickly asked a friend to take one. A very special Moment since I was not a part of the reception. My heart thumped and he went back in.
After that everyone started to come out of the Cocoa Civic Center, Dignitaries, the foundation, and Yes Family. Most of the family gathered were I was standing, as there were masses of people coming out of the reception headed to the Statue. The family was smiling and so happy to be together and so proud.
The Morris Family Riverfront Park Cocoa
|Makaiya (grand daughter) and Melvin Morris, Jr (son) Veteran who served in the USAF Melvin Morris Jr . has 7 siblings all together - 3 brothers and 4 sisters. Okmulgee, Oklahoma is happy about their hometown hero.|
|Mariah and Jayvon Morris (great grandchildren) and Makaiya Morris (grand daughter)|
|Marcel (grandson) with his mom, Mary Morris (daughter-in-law)|
Marcel (grandson), Makaiya (grand daughter), Melvin Morris, Jr (son) Veteran who served in the USAF, Denise Hinton ( Niece Veteran USAF)
I began to talk with the family and they were so kind and friendly. The children were beautiful and love, happiness and honor were in the air.
The Mayor of Cocoa. Henry Parrish the III walked up to the family and gave his regards and thank you’s as we were all waiting for the exciting moment of unveiling.
I was able to get a moment with the mayor and ask him “ how does it feel to have this happening in your city of Cocoa a Hometown Hero of a Statue right here is Cocoa River front park.
|Mary Morris, Melvin Morris, Mayor Henry Parrish III , Brig. Gen. Nina Armagno|
|City Cocoa Mayor Henry Parrish III , With Marcel (grandson) of Melvin Morris|
“ This is a Very historic day for the city of Cocoa to be the Host city of the Statue of Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient SFC Melvin Morris. I am humbled and thankful this day for the gathering of friends, family, officials and the foundation to be gathered in my City of Cocoa for the Historic unveiling. I am most especially thankful to the SFC Morris for his service to our country. “ ( Henry Parrish III, Mayor City of Cocoa Florida)
Well time was coming , The band was set up and hustle and bustle all around getting ready for the unveiling
As Melvin and Mary were preparing to get on the stage for the unveiling. The crowd started move closer as we heard the music it was time for the unveiling of Melvin Morris Statue , the history moment was here .
Melvin did the unveiling as the band played, what a Glorious Moment in History
Video of Unveiling
After the unveiling the entire Melvin Morris family went up to the stage and many gathered to take
The whole time SFC Melvin Morris had an eye on his family. The sparkle arose as he saw them come forth to the stage
What a big beautiful family they are. His eyes lit up, a humble man, who served his country being honored, a Statue of him, a hero, surrounded by his family.
Even the little ones flurried to the stage
There was a twinkle of Love and honor in all their eyes. Especially Melvin Morris
More pictures were taken of Dignitaries, attendees of the reception and the Mayor of Cocoa Henry Parrish III congratulations and shaking hands with SFC Morris and his
wife. What an honor our hometown hero a statue sits right here in Riverfront Park in Cocoa for all to see.
After the unveiling was a private dinner reception and those attendees went back inside. I can’t report to you much on that friends but I am sure glad I was outside .
After that my friends and I left and decided to go to Ryan’s overlooking the River Park.
A Few hours later it was dark and I was walking to my car to go home the historic moment was over . I decided to walk through the park and take one last look at the statute.
As I approached the beautiful bronze statue there was were a few people in the distance.
As I got closer it was none other than SFC Melvin Morris with that it twinkle and look in his eye that said your welcome to come over and in so the others looked at me the same.
Just the 5 of us . We giggled for a bit got some photos with Melvin and of the Statue.
So kind, so humble, so proud, so honored. Westanna a very kind soul she even offered to walk me to my car when I was leaving and asked if I wanted some of the flowers she was holding in her hands.
Not knowing who she was I did not want to put her out of her way but thought that was surely nice of that lady .
The next day I found out who that kind and humble lady named Westanna Harvey Bobbit was sent me a beautiful Text .
It was great meeting you .
Its Wonderful to meet someone with a similar personality.
a stranger is only a friend we haven’t met yet”
Warm Regards, Stanna Westanna Harvery Bobbitt Colonel, USAF (Retired)
|Westanna Harvery Bobbitt Colonel, USAF (Retired)|
Back to the night before, while I was talking with the Girls at the statue I came to find out that one of them was the niece of Melvin Morris. The girls and I chatted a bit and we exchanged numbers before I left. I asked them for a take back of the historic day before I left and they said sure we will send it to you Laureen .
Well friends, we have some more surprises about the amazing family Morris Family.
I became quite good friends with Denise the past few days, while writing this story, she was so kind in helping me and as we been chatting the past few days I have come to find out that we have more than just one hero in the Melvin Morris family.
Denise Hinton’s Dad was in the USAF and retired in Indian Harbor Beach; Denise grew up in Brevard County area from 6th grade and graduated from Satellite High School. After graduating from FSU College of Nursing, was commissioned into the USAF and eventually was stationed at Andrews Air Force Base, MD. She transferred from the USAF into the US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps in Maryland. She hopes to retire and move back to Florida within the next 10 years. Melvin Morris Jr . The Son Of Melvin Morris Jr also Served in the USAF.
From just wanting to get a glimpse of a History of our Hometown Hero Melvin Morris in Cocoa of the statue, but hoping in my heart to cross paths with SFC Melvin Morris and his family. I feel so blessed to have gone expecting nothing and to come across so many divine appointments
|Brianna (grand daughter), Melvin Morris, Denise Hinton (Niece)|
Granddaughter Brianna: it's amazing to know people look at my grandfather and view him as a legend and a hero brings a plethora of emotions. My grandfather is the most humble person I know and it is outstanding that I am able to witness and take photographs documenting all these events being held for him as I stand right beside his side in this life time
It is an honor to have a living legend as a family member who is able to have witnessed the unveiling of a beautiful statue to commemorate his legacy. My Uncle Melvin is humbled by all the recognition and he never forgets his fellow comrades that he actually considers to be the true heroes. He's our hero, we're proud of him, and we're thankful to have shared in this moment with him and the space coast community.
Denise Hinton (his niece from Glenn Dale, Maryland)
On Sept. 17, 1969, while commanding the Third Company, Third Battalion of the IV Mobile Strike Force near Chi Lang. Then-Staff Sgt. Morris led an advance across enemy lines to recover a fallen comrade and single-handedly destroyed an enemy force that had pinned his battalion from a series of bunkers. Staff Sgt. Morris was shot three times as he ran back toward friendly lines with the American casualties, and did not stop until he reached safety. SFC Melvin Morris is our Congressional Metal of Honor Recipient, Hometown Hero, with a Statue that blazes River Park, Cocoa on the beautiful space coast.
Special thanks to all the brave Men and Women who served. And especially to our Hometown Hero Melvin Morris, his family and friends
Somehow I feel this story is not over friends …to be continued
Story By Laureen Trent