Madison Living - Kentucky Winter 2018 - Page 13

Ret. Lt. Colonel Brett Morris stands in front of his “I love me” wall, that features a replica Bastonge sign to honor his uncle who lost his life in the ‘Battle of the Bulge.” IN SERVICE Retired Army officer’s goal is helping veterans at EKU Story and photos by Taylor Six R et. Lt. Col. Brett Morris is the main reason behind EKU’s top national rankings in the Best for Vets: Colleges the past nine years, according to Bryan Cole, director of the Office of Military and Veteran Affairs. “He is the driving force behind what we have here,” Cole said. “I think the world of him, and he really embodied the spirit of ROTC on the university’s campus. He is instrumental in what we have and a mentor for our current ROTC program at the university.” When you walk into Morris’ office in the Whitlock building, a giant maroon and white EKU rug lays across his office floor. His dress blues hang on the back of his door. Across what Morris jokingly calls his “I love me” wall, is a replica of the Bastogne sign, awards, recognitions and a large frame holding memorabilia of his uncle’s time in the military, including a purple heart. The Bastogne sign is important to Morris because his uncle, Private First Class Max W. Lewis, was sent to Bastogne to defend the crossroads at the very beginning of the Battle of the Bulge. “My uncle was killed on Jan. 13, 1945, during the final counter-offensive to eliminate the ‘bulge’ in our lines,” Morris said. The Battle of the Bulge was the last major German offensive movement on the western front during World War II. Morris began his 24-year-long military career once he graduated high school in 1976 and decided to attend New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell, New Mexico, where his cousin was teaching, simply because the costs were covered for the first two years. Once he graduated, Morris went on to serve as a field artillery officer and foreignary officer until he began his journey at EKU as a professor of military science and head of EKU ROTC in 1999. This position, typically only three years, was extended to five. The first year he took over the position, the goal was to commission 12 students and the ROTC program only commissioned six. In 2004, his last year in this position, Morris commissioned 20 students, exceeding the goal of 12. Once Morris retired from the Army in 2004, he began a business taking care of seniors and their homes. He realized shortly thereafter he missed being in uniform. “It’s kind of hard to go from 24 years of doing something and not doing anything associated with the military,” Morris said. Morris took a position as senior Continued on page 14 WINTER 2018 Madison Living 13