Commander James Ivan Morris, USN (Ret), 90, a long time resident of Coronado, California passed away on April 25th at the Coronado Hospital with his son Bruce Morris and Daughter-in-law, Jessica Morris by his side. James was predeceased by his wife Lorraine. He is survived by his brother Neal and sister-in-law Marcella, his children, Kirk, Jan, Bruce and Toni, his 8 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren and many beloved friends.
James hailed from Florida. He graduated from Pensacola High School in 1949, where he went on to study at Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama. After Auburn, he began his career in the Navy via the Naval Aviation Cadet program in 1953. After receiving his wings in March 1955, he reported to VP-46 at North Island, Coronado where he served until October 1957. He was then transferred to VU-3 at Brown Field in San Diego and served until March 1959, when he returned to Pensacola as a flight instructor with VT-2.
After his tour in Pensacola ended in August of 1961, he began two years of study at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree. He then reported to VAW-11, where from 1963 to 1965 he served as Officer in Charge of an AD5-W detachment aboard the USS Kearsarge.
Following his tour there, he reported to VAW-13 and served there until 1967. He then began a year of study at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. In 1968 he reported to the Commander, Carrier Airborne Early Warning Wing Eleven as Operations Officer. The following year, he began a two-year tour as Plans Officer for the Chief of Naval Air Technical Training, Memphis, Tennessee. In May 1971, he reported to VRC-50 at North Island as the Executive Officer. In December of 1972 he assumed command of Training Squadron Thirty One in Corpus Christie, Texas. In October of 1974 he transferred for the final time to Tactical Air Control Squadron One in Coronado, California, serving as the Executive Officer and retiring from the Navy after 26 years of honorable service in February 1976. In total he landed on 12 different aircraft carriers in his career.
After the Navy he took helicopter lessons and was hired as a crop duster in Imperial Valley, California until June 1990. James then went on to fly air tankers conducting aerial firefighting operations, until June 1995. James had well over 10,000 hours of flight time between the Navy, crop dusting and air tankers. In 2010, James volunteered with the USS Midway Museum as an aircraft restorer for 7 years where he attained the rare membership in The Presidents Circle, contributing over 10,000 volunteer hours. This is a distinction that only a few individuals have.
There will be a celebration of life for James on June 3rd. Please contact family for details. In lieu of flowers the family requests those who wish to express sympathy consider donating to the USS Midway Museum, in James’ name, an organization he felt strongly about. To make a gift in James’ memory, please make your check payable to “USS Midway Museum.” In the memo line or with an enclosed note, include “In memory of CDR James Morris” so he will get the proper recognition of your gift. You may send checks to the USS Midway Museum, ATTN: Development, 910 N Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92101.