ELGIN, Texas - If you’re looking for Dud Morris on a typical night of the week, there’s a good chance you’ll find him in the middle of a dance floor.
"Dancing keeps me going," said Morris. "I started dancing at about 5 years old, and I haven’t quit yet."
Chatting with him, you’d never guess he’s turning 96 next week. "I tell people, I’m not old, I’m just advanced in age," he said.
As a World War II veteran, Morris has seen a lot in his close-to-a-century of life. He joined the Navy just before he turned 18. During the Battle of Iwo Jima, he would drive an amphibious boat and drop Marines off on the island. He also would go pick men out of the water when they bailed out of planes.
"The B-29s would come back in the evening, shot up, couldn’t land and out of fuel and stuff," said Morris. "All the people on there would bail out as they came over, but the island was so small, with the crosswind most of them would land in the water "
They also had smoke generators stored on their boats so that during an air raid, they could generate smoke to cover the ship.
Morris was in a boat off the island when he watched what later became an iconic image. "All of a sudden, I was driving but I’d look every little bit, and one of the guys said, ‘The flag’s up, the flag’s up!" said Morris. "Man that was the best sight I’d ever seen, but it wasn’t near over."
Though his time overseas cost him hearing in one ear, Morris said others had it a lot worse. He also said he gained lifelong friendships through the experience.
"Some of the best friends I had were in the Navy," he said.
Thirty years later, Morris and fellow veterans tracked down more than 100 members of their original outfit and held reunions around the country. They had 65 men show up for their first reunion in Houston. But over the years, the numbers got smaller and smaller.
"We had one in Elgin with five men there," said Morris. "Then it got down to three, and then the third died in a car wreck and we’ve stopped."
That left Morris and one other man in Louisiana who passed away about a year ago. "It’s sad to me, but as far as I know I’m the only one left," said Morris.
But he’s still dancing his way through life. On Veterans Day this year, he’ll be on his way to Fort Worth for more dancing.
"I’m very blessed and very fortunate," said Morris. "I thank the good Lord every night."
FOX is also supporting veterans and U.S. VETS
U.S.VETS launched its campaign called "Make Camo Your Cause" to establish the camouflage print as the official symbol to honor its veterans.
"Camo was designed to conceal and protect our soldiers in combat. Today, in America we wear camouflage to stand out from the crowd and to demonstrate our patriotism and pride," the organization wrote. "With your support, #HONORUSVETS will give camo a new meaning, showing the community you believe our veterans deserve every opportunity to live with dignity and independence."
The organization encourages employees and customers to wear camo clothing and share their message on Veterans Day.
How to get involved
FOX Corporation and its employees are working with U.S.VETS to support their "Make Camo Your Cause" campaign by spreading awareness to the campaign and wearing camo to support the cause on Veterans Day.
In order to bring visibility and awareness to the campaign, FOX is asking businesses to purchase apparel from U.S.VETS online shop and wear camo with U.S.VETS this Veterans Day and post on social media using #HONORUSVETS. U.S.VETS is also looking for volunteers in the fight against veteran homelessness.
"If you are compassionate, hardworking, or just looking for a way to give back to the community, volunteering at a U.S.VETS location would be a rewarding experience for you," U.S.VETS wrote.
The national nonprofit relies on corporate and community support to help reach its goal through partnerships including direct financial contributions, employee giving and matching gifts, campaigns, grants and employee volunteer engagement.
In addition, employers can "hire a vet" through the U.S.VETS Career Network, which connects professional and student veterans with lasting careers they love.
Donations to the organization can also be made on its website.
U.S.VETS is the largest nonprofit organization with boots on the ground to combat America’s veteran homeless crisis head-on. Its comprehensive approach provides housing, counseling, career and supportive services to help U.S. veterans rebuild and thrive.
The organization has 32 sites across 11 regional locations in California, Nevada, Arizona, Hawaii, Texas, and Washington D.C. and offers temporary and permanent housing solutions and comprehensive services to veterans and their families nationwide.
This station is owned by the FOX Corporation.
‘Make Camo Your Cause’ campaign brings struggle of homeless veterans to light
‘Make Camo Your Cause’: U.S.VETS leaders say goal is to ‘put ourselves out of business’
Veterans Day 2021: Deals for veterans, active-duty and families