With great sadness Rockland County learned of the death of decorated Army Sgt. James Morrison of Wesley Hills last week. Sgt. Morrison, 28, was on active duty in Company C, 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry in Fort Carson, Colorado, when he died Wednesday.
He had been deployed to Afghanistan three times.
His father, Richard, of Wesley Hills, wants his son to be remembered both for his heroism and service to his country as well as for the struggles he, like so many service members, encountered after serving in a war zone.
“PTSD is real,” Richard Morrison said. “This is proof.”
His father and mother, Sharon, want his death to serve as a reminder that military members should not be afraid or ashamed to seek assistance for mental health issues.
“We want him to be remembered as a hero,” Richard and Sharon Morrison said.
Sgt. Morrison was cited for heroism in 2011 by then-U.S. military commander in Afghanistan Gen. David H. Petraeus. Morrison and other troops were engaged in a fierce battle with Taliban soldiers in southeastern Afghanistan in May, 2011.
According to an account in a Defense Department publication, he “ran through enemy fire to reach a weapon that was used to push the enemy back,” helping his troops win the battle.
Morrison, 23 at the time, was awarded an Army Commendation Medal with Valor.
He reenlisted and was serving in Colorado, where he lived with his wife and daughter.
Morrison was a 2006 graduate of Ramapo High School. Both he and his father served for many years with the Hillcrest Fire Department.
Rockland County Executive Ed Day offered his condolences and admiration for the family’s willingness to speak out about the deadly consequences of PTSD.
“As the father of two sons who served, one still on active duty, I can think of no greater heartache,” Day said. “We know the people of Rockland will stand by the Morrisons during this time of tragedy.”
He reminds local veterans that the Rockland County Veterans Service Agency provides referrals for assistance. There is also a Veterans Affairs healthcare clinic in New City.
Sgt. Morrison was buried with full military honors. A firematic service was also held.
In addition to his father, Sgt. Morrison is also survived by his mother, Sharon; sister, Ashlee; wife, Christine and daughter, Emma.