Colonel J. Harl Morris, USAF (Ret.), age 100, the only man in history to fly twice non-stop around the equator, passed away on July 6th, 2017 in Abilene, Texas. He was born in Lohn, Texas to James and Effie Morris on November 7, 1916. He graduated from Brady High School in Brady, Texas. He moved to San Antonio and began a career in the gasoline business. At age 23 he was the largest independent gasoline service station and wholesale bulk plant operator around San Antonio at that time.
He was called into the military in 1944 as a cadet. He began a remarkable career in the United States Air Force achieving many "firsts". He was the only man in history to fly non-stop around the equator twice – first in a prop B50 bomber as co-pilot in 1949, and again as the pilot of the first jet B52 bomber in 1957. This history making event earned him the honor of riding in the Inaugural parade of President Eisenhower and appearances on multiple talk shows as well as a visit in England from the Queen of England and on the cover of Time Magazine in 1957. He received the McKay trophy for the most important flight twice. He served as Airborne Commander of the Pacific where he was a member of the distinguished group known as the "Blue Eagles". He was Deputy Inspector General of the Fifteenth Air Force and Air Division Commander at Peace Air Base in New Hampshire with five SAC bases assigned to his division. He was deputy commander of operations of 45 B-52's and 45 KC135's at Castle Air Force Base.
He earned the title of "Shamrock Sam" while staying at the famous Shamrock Hotel in Houston as a cadet. The name was later shortened to "Sam", but to this day his Air Force buddies call him Sam. He was an instructor pilot, instructor navigator, instructor bombardier, instructor radar known as all four Air Force Wings and called the four-headed monster.
Upon retirement from the Air Force he moved to Merritt Island, Florida across from Cape Canaveral where he enjoyed watching the launch of many space ships from his back yard. After living briefly in Albuquerque, New Mexico, he moved to Abilene, Texas in 1986. He married Barbara Walker in 1993 and they enjoyed 23 years traveling around the world.
He was preceded in death by his first wife Wynn; his parents; a brother, Tommy Morris; a sister, Velma Maxwell; a stepson, Paul Walker; and special nephew, Barry Morris.
He is survived by his wife, Barbara; stepdaughter, Pamela Brown and her husband Mark; nieces, Mary Ann Hemmert of Salt Lake City, Utah, Georgia Stieren of San Antonio, and Linda Simmons and husband Ron; great-nephew, Dave Morris of St. Louis, Missouri; and cousins, Mary Ray and Eulalia Browning of Abilene.
Services will be held Tuesday, July 11, at 2:00 p.m. at The Hamil Family Funeral Home, 6449 Buffalo Gap Road in Abilene, officiated by Dr. Janice Six. Visitation will be at the funeral home Monday, July 10th, from 5 to 7 p.m.
Burial will be at Ft. Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio, Texas at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, July 13th, with full military honors.
Any memorials may be directed to Wounded Warrior Recovery Program, or to a charity of your choice.