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Statesville Man Twice Decorated with DSC

Jessica A. Bandel

“I have a feeling for the French people I cannot describe,” wrote then-lieutenant Julian Knox Morrison to his parents on January 10, 1918. “When I stand on a road…and see the regiments going up to the trenches my heart goes out to them. … One sees these poor fellows go by and the question always comes into one’s mind, how do they keep it up? Ragged, dirty, bearded men, laboring along under the usual infantryman’s pack, many of them with sticks to aid them with eyes and jaws firmly set. To them the glamour and newness of war has become old. They have made the trip to and from the trenches too many times.”

By the time he penned this letter, the Statesville native had already been in the warzone for six months with the American Ambulance Field Service, an organization of American volunteers that operated under French command. From June 9 to November 13, 1917, Morrison served as a member of a supply unit within the Field Service known as Transport Materiel Etats-Unis [T.M.U.] 397. He transferred to the American Mission, Motor Transport Corps, of the American Expeditionary Force towards the end of 1917 where he put his experience with the Field Service to good use as a training instructor.

In May 1918, Morrison again obtained a transfer, this time to the newly organized Tank Corps. Displays of “extraordinary heroism” and cool leadership under fire at the Battle of St. Mihiel and the Meuse Argonne Offensive twice garnered him the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC), the second highest military commendation that can be received by a member of the United States Army. 

The battle-hardened tank corps captain finally returned to the United States in mid-March 1919, having served continuously overseas for twenty-two months. Morrison received an honorable discharge in May and married Sue Gunter, of Greensboro, before moving to Georgia to pursue a career in textiles. 

From 1929 until his death on June 20, 1949, he served as president of Brighton Mills in Shannon, Georgia. Newspapers throughout the south lamented his loss and heralded him as “one of the South’s leading textile industrialists,” a testament to his level of influence and prominence within the business world.