Friends Remember Fallen Ripley Soldier For Sense Of Humor, Smile

Saturday, August 20th 2011, 2:42 pm
By: News On 6

Emily Baucum, News On 6

STILLWATER, Oklahoma -- A Green Country soldier was laid to rest Saturday. Specialist Jordan Morris, 23, was killed last week when a bomb exploded near his vehicle in Afghanistan.

Morris went to Ripley High School where he was Valedictorian of the 2006 graduating class. The funeral was held at Stillwater High School's Performing Arts Center.

People told many stories about Specialist Morris.

One came from a West Point classmate who was trying to earn a weekend leave home by running 13 miles. He said Morris had nothing to gain from it -- but ran the whole way with him for moral support.

That's just the kind of guy Specialist Morris was.

Whether he was goofing off with his brothers, or serving our country -- a certain brand of humor hid behind Jordan Morris' smile.

Those who knew him best say that comic timing helped Specialist Morris bond with his fellow soldiers.

Some of them made the trip from Fort Drum, New York, to pay their respects.

"I told my Captain I really wanted to be here," said Morris' friend, Private Ryan Olszta. "Out of all the fellow guys we've lost in our unit he's probably the one that affects me the most."

His life may have been cut short, but through baseball games and youth ministry -- from high school valedictorian to West Point graduate -- Specialist Morris touched thousands with his smile.

"Since he deployed he would send a message almost weekly via Facebook or email. Just, 'Hey, I'm doing okay over here. Make sure everyone knows I'm good,'" Olszta said.

Friends say Specialist Morris knew the risks when he went to Afghanistan.

"He'd say just stay strong. I died doing what I love doing. Defending my country for my family," Olszta said.

A family now accepting his Purple Heart and Bronze Star in front of an audience so appreciative of Specialist Morris' sacrifice.

In a picture -- he stands in front of a monument dedicated to those who pay for freedom with their blood. Specialist Morris now joins their ranks.

Specialist Morris was buried afterward at a cemetery in Stillwater. He's one of eight Oklahoma soldiers to pay the ultimate sacrifice in recent weeks.

8/15/2011 Related Story: Community Remembers Stillwater Soldier Killed In Afghanistan