WASHINGTON, D.C. - A Cedar Falls sailor who lost portions of all four limbs in a May bomb blast in Afghanistan was personally awarded the Purple Heart by President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden at the White House on Thursday.
Obama and Biden presented the medal to Taylor Morris in the company of his girlfriend, Danielle Kelly, his mother, Juli Morris, and sister Claire Morris during a White House tour for about 40 “wounded warriors” and their families.
Kelly said the foursome were posing for a group photo with other tour members when they were taken aside an escorted into a private room. Obama and Biden walked in.
Kelly said she originally thought the president was simply stopping for a quick hello. Taylor has met the President twice, once at a Walter Reed Army Medical Center visit, and again at a July 4 White House picnic.
“He (Obama) said ‘Taylor Morris. I’m going to have to buy a cot for you at the White House, I’ve got something for you’" Kelly recalled. The president then pulled out a case containing a Purple Heart, as Biden read the official citation relating how Morris earned the medal.
The Purple Heart is given to military personnel wounded in combat. Morris, a bomb disposal expert was accompanying a unit of U.S. Army Special Forces soldiers, clearing explosive ordnance, when one went off under him.
Kelly said she and Taylor were totally surprised. Officials told Juli Morris in advanced but asked her to keep the event a surprise for the couple.
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The bittersweet part of the event, Juli said, is that Dan Morris, was unable to attend due to the short notice. In fact, Taylor had just completed a morning workout and was wearing a T-shirt, shorts and a headband.
Kelly said Taylor continues his recovery and improving his mobility and use of artificial limbs.
A mid-October fundraising event is planned in Cedar Falls. Kelly said it’s one of Taylor’s goals to be home for that event.