David L. Morrow, CWO5, Alabama Army National Guard
Published 1:00 pm Friday, March 24, 2023
Author’s note: Captain Buck Carlton, U.S. Navy, Part 2 will continue at a later date.
David Morrow has served his country for 38 years. Included in that service is a tour in Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. During his assignment in Iraq, he came under fire from enemy forces near Mosul, Iraq. He still remembers that moment but says that his most memorable assignment happened in Louisiana when his Guard unit was doing humanitarian work after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
David recalled, “I was assigned to the 1670th Transportation Company and we had deployed to the areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina around Cameron Parrish and Lake Charles. We had been working to establish distribution centers to hand out food, water, ice, baby formula, diapers etc. You can’t imagine the destruction from the hurricane. We saw cows being rescued by air boats, caskets lodged in trees and floating in the water and large craters where roads used to be. We saw entire small towns wiped out. In one town, an entire bank building had been blown away and the concrete bank vault was the only thing left standing.
“People would line up for blocks waiting for food such as MREs [Meals Ready to Eat] water and ice. We also handed out supplies for infants and small children. On one particular day, we had closed the distribution center and were locking things up when a couple drove up in an older model car. A young woman and her husband got out of the car, holding a baby. The baby was crying and the couple had a real look of desperation. The mother explained that they had no food nor water and no clothes nor food for the baby. She had tears in her eyes as she asked us for help.
“In our mind, our mission did not have ‘fixed hours,’ so we opened the gate and proceeded to load their car with food, water, baby diapers, baby formula and anything else we felt would help them. The couple was so appreciative and the mother was crying tears of joy. After they left, our group of soldiers sat down in silence as we tried to imagine our own families in a similar situation. To this day, I still get emotional when I recall that couple.”
David Lee Morrow was born July 6, 1967 in Andalusia, Alabama. His parents were Joe Morrow, Jr. and Sandra Foshee Morrow. They also had a daughter, Donna Morrow. David attended Red Level School and graduated from Red Level High School in 1986. He had joined the 781st Transportation Company [Georgiana, Alabama] of the Alabama Army National Guard in 1985. He also worked part-time jobs at McDonalds in Andalusia and at the Judy Bond sewing plant in Red Level.
David went through basic training at Fort Jackson, S.C. in 1986. After that, he went to work for Shaw Industries in Andalusia in 1987. He earned an Associates Degree in Business from LBW Community College in 1998. He earned a B.A. degree in Business Administration from Columbia Southern University in 2011 and a Master’s degree in Engineering Management from Western New England University in 2017.
By 1997, David Morrow had attained the rate of Sergeant [E-5]. At that time, he entered Warrant Officer Candidate School and was commissioned as a Warrant Officer One [WO1] on November 7, 1997. He is currently a Warrant Officer Five [WO5].
David’s first activation with the 1670th Transportation Company was in February 2003. The unit was sent to Fort Benning, Georgia, to prepare for deployment to Iraq. David recalled, “It was stressful because we knew we could be on a plane the next day to Iraq. We were told to ‘stand down’ in July. I was glad but I had been mentally and physically prepared to go.”
In 2005, he went to work for Hyundai Motors in Montgomery, Alabama, in the plant engineering department. That fall, David and his unit were deployed to Louisiana to give humanitarian aid in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Through the years, he has deployed multiple times with his unit, providing humanitarian relief to communities devastated by hurricanes. David spoke for himself and his fellow guardsmen, “We have been called on many times to respond to natural disasters such as hurricanes. The common feelings we all shared was that ‘we were fulfilling our mission’ by helping our fellow Americans in their time of need.”
In the fall of 2008, David was transferred to the 158th Support Maintenance Company in Tallassee, Alabama, and deployed to Iraq. The transfer was unexpected for David but he had been prepared since 2003. He remembered the deployment, “We were tasked with providing armed escorts for convoys. We were also tasked with recovering military vehicles that had been damaged or that had broken down. Some of our personnel worked with the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment [SOAR].
“I was assigned to be the Contracting Officer’s Representative for the Direct Support Maintenance Shop at base camp Qayyarah West [Q-West]. Half our unit was assigned there and the other half to Mosul. I was also the Unit Movement Officer, responsible for logistical operations preparing for our movement into Iraq and our return to the States…I had a large group of KBR [Kellogg, Brown and Root] contractors that worked for me that provided vehicle maintenance that was beyond our own unit’s capabilities.
“During my time in Iraq, I frequently traveled between Q-West and Mosul. We usually traveled at night and once we were outside the wire [the perimeter of the base camp], we were in the unsafe zone all the way between camps…On one trip, our vehicle came across many locals who had fires burning along the road. As we approached a village, our MRAP came under small arms fire. The shooter was concealed in a group of villagers so we could not fire back [our rules of engagement required us to have a direct confirmed target].
“We were really in no danger from small arms fire in the MRAP…We spent that night in Mosul and the next morning, I was awakened by a large explosion which shook the building violently. I quickly ran outside to see a mushroom-like cloud of smoke that reminded me of pictures I’d seen of an atomic bomb exploding…The bomb had been concealed inside a truck and it left a large crater in front of the main gate.
After David Morrow returned from Iraq in November 2009, he worked for the Alabama Army National Guard fulltime through August 2016. At that time, he went to work as Director of Facilities Management for the State of Alabama Finance Department. He still remained in the Alabama Army National Guard. In February 2023, He went to work as Project Manager for Russell Construction Company of Montgomery, Alabama. David carries three professional credentials: Certified Energy Manager [CEM], Project Management Professional [PMP], and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional for Building Design and Construction [LEED AP BD+C].
David has been assigned to several Alabama Army National Guard units through the years, including the 781st Transportation Company in Georgiana, Alabama; the 1670th Transportation Company in Brantley, Alabama; the 158th Support Maintenance Company in Tallassee, Alabama; the Fort McClellan Training Center in Anniston; the Joint Forces Headquarters in Montgomery, Alabama; and is currently assigned to the 167th Theater Sustainment Command in Anniston, Alabama.
David Morrow has earned the Bronze Star, the Army Commendation Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Army Forces Expeditionary Medal, the Humanitarian Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Medal, the Iraqi Campaign Medal, the Alabama Veterans Service Medal, and many others.
David married Gwen Walker of Opp, Alabama, on August 14, 1992. He has a daughter, Tiffany Morrow, from a previous marriage. David and Gwen reside on the same 57-acre family farm [Foshee] where he grew up in Cohassett, Alabama, in the eastern edge of Conecuh County.
The author would like to thank David Morrow for sharing his story. David and Gwen are fellow members of the Methodist Church in Andalusia, with the author and his wife.