Marine Recognized for Heroism on Battlefield in WWII

Emma Hughes
Gila River Indian News



Community veteran, Joshua Morris from Komatke, was born in 1923 and graduated from Tucson Indian Boarding School, also known as Esquella. 


Morris entered the service at the age of 20 and honorably served with the 3rd Battalion, 21st Marine Regiment, Third Division, during World War II.  


He was a part of the operation to take back Guam from Japanese control. Fighting against enemy Japanese forces on the Asia-Adelup beachhead, Guam in the Marianas group on July 26, 1944.


Fighting and outnumbered by Japanese troops occupying a strategic hill on the right flank of his battalion’s positions, PFC Morris advanced alone in a daring attempt to find the location of enemy troops. 


Moving in on the flank of the Japanese until they replied, skillfully tricking them into revealing their position. 

When his platoon was ordered to withdraw from the uneven battle, PFC Morris volunteered to cover the retreat, remaining at his post and defending his position until being overwhelmed by enemy forces, he was fatally struck down. 


By his intrepid initiative, aggressive fighting spirit and great personal valor, PFC Morris contributed to the successful withdraw of his unit, due to  his self-sacrificing devotion to duty in the face of almost certain death reflects the highest credit upon himself and the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country. 


Gary Anderson Sr., a Gila River Indian Community veteran who spent 22 years in the U.S. Army Special Forces has been finding information of those Community members who lost their lives during WWII to give them recognition and show that they are not forgotten. 


After having met with the family of PFC Morris and Community members, with their support, Anderson has petitioned to have the new Gila Crossing Community School’s gymnasium named after PFC Morris. “It has been met with tremendous support,” says Anderson. 


Congressman Tom O’Halleran and the Arizona Department of Veteran’s Services have provided letters of support to the school board for the naming of the school’s gymnasium after PFC Morris, Anderson will go before the school board to propose the naming of the gym next month.