Morris Raymond Worrell, born October 4, 1921 to Emory & Marie (Reinhold) Worrell, he was one of 10 children. He was raised in the Wisner NE area and received his education from the Wisner Schools. His siblings were Vera, Hazel, Leland, Margaret, Eva, Harold, Orville, Betty and Emory Jr.
With his brothers Harold (Army) and Orville (Air Force) in the military, Morris decided he wanted to follow in their footsteps. Family history has it when he tried to enlist in Nebraska he was turned down so he went to California. Enlistment records show he enlisted in the Army on February 4, 1941 at Fort McArthur, San Pedro, California. Morris served in Company F, 2nd Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment.
He was sent to the Philippine Islands where he was stationed when war was declared December 8, 1941. When US troops surrendered on April 9, 1942, Morris became a Japanese Prisoner of War. After enduring the brutal Bataan Death March, he joined other POW’s at Cabanatuan POW camp in Nueva Ecija Province. Poor living conditions and lack of food and supplies allowed diseases to run unchecked with little medical treatment available.
Morris died on September 27, 1942 from dysentery and malaria. He was 21 years old. He was buried in a mass grave; when Cabantuan was liberated, the mass graves were disinterred and eventually moved to the Manila Mausoleum.
76 years later, on August 13, 2018 his remains were identified by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency with burial in the Wisner cemetery on November 10, 2018. Home at last!!!!
In 1976 his sister Betty received a letter addressed to the Wisner NE Postmaster who happened to be a classmate of Betty’s and also knew Morris. The writer, Abie Abraham, was a Prisoner of War with Morris and was searching for his family to give more details about their brother. In his followup letter, Mr Abraham stated “the whole 31st Infantry made the “Death March” we marched for six days into San Fernando, from here we were sent to Camp O’Donnell where we lost over 1,600 American lives. The Japs got scared and moved us to Cabantuan. At Cabanatuan we caught hell. 2,600 Americans died here in a short time from malaria, dysentery, and beri beri etc. Morris and I used to talk way into the night. We talked about home and loved ones. He told me about his sisters and brothers and Marie. He was a brave soldier, had guts for such a young soldier. I was proud of him. He was liked by everyone in his company, always a smile and a kind word. I know in Bataan he always came to see me and we talked for hours under the shelling of Japan’s large guns. I saw Morris die in the early morning he had a bad case of dysentery. I got him water and bathed him many times, estimated time of death as 9 am.”
First Lieutenant Offutt died on August 13, 1918 from injuries received while flying at Valheureux, France. It is unknown whether his death resulted from enemy action or from an aircraft accident. He was the first Omaha native pilot to die during World War I. He was 23 years old.
On May 10, 1924, the landing field at Fort Crook, near Omaha, Nebraska, was renamed Offutt Field in his honor. The dedication ceremony, attended by Offutt’s mother and brother, featured an aerial salute from 19 planes which circled the field; then Major Charles tinker commanded seven of the planes which flew from Fort Riley, Kansas and dropped a dedicatory wreath to highlight the ceremony.
Mr. Abraham went on to say in his letter “in 1945 I was liberated. All POW’s were sent home. General MacArthur asked me to stay over and locate all the graves on Bataan, the battlefields cemeteries, O’Donnell and Cabanatuan. This work I did for 2 years. returning home in 1947 after 9 years in the Philippines.” Mr. Abie Abraham went on to write books about his experiences as a POW in the Philippines. Morris’s family is grateful to be able to understand more about what their brother and uncle experienced during this time.
Medals he received were Bronze Star, Prisoner of War Medal, Purple Heart, Combat Infantryman Badge, World War II Victory Medal, American Campaign Medal, Distinguished Unit Citation, Good Conduct Medal, and Asiatic-Pacific Medal.
Honor and Remember Nebraska Chapter is pleased to present this flag sponsored by Family Fare, A Spartan Nash Company to the family of PFC Morris R. Worrell.