MANDAN, N.D. (KXNET) — In our Veterans Voices, we’ll be getting to know a man you might be familiar with. His name is Raymond Morrell, and he’s a county commissioner.
“Service doesn’t end with your EAS — your end of active service. It doesn’t end there,” said Ray Morrell, a former sergeant with the United States Marine Corps.
Morrell is a man who wears many hats — whether that be a hard hat, a cowboy hat, or a military cap.
“I believe I was about 12 years old when I was submitting, back then you get little tear-off tags in a magazine, so I was submitting those expressing interest in joining the Marine Corps, and I remember my mother making a comment about, she received a phone call from one of the recruiters one day and said, ‘you know, he’s only 12 years old.’ So, five years later at 17, I joined the Marine Corps, and I truly enjoyed it,” Morrell said.
Beginning in 1986, Morrell served in aviation ordinance.
“I loaded the aircraft, maintained the weapons system on the F4 and the F18 aircraft stationed out of Kaneohe, Hawaii,” recalled Morrell.
As time went on, his position changed, and he got the chance to train Marines who were deployed during the First Gulf War.
But Morrell’s time serving didn’t end with his EAS.
“In the military, you don’t even have to decide what to wear each day. Now, some people spend half an hour just trying to figure out what shirt they want to wear. But my first objective was ‘get a job.’ And with that, one thing led to another led to another. So, this job led to that job and that job led to that job. But each one also gave me that meaning and purpose,” said Morrell.
Some of Morrell’s many opportunities to serve beyond the Marines were: the North Dakota Honor Flight, the Morton County Commission, the Knights of Columbus, the Marine Corps League, and the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame — of which he is a founding member.
He says his passion for service has opened many doors in his life.
“You have a passion, and that passion will drive you to certain opportunities — I’ll just isolate manage rodeo. It was a passion because I grew up next to the older rodeo facilities. So, when I was a kid, I’d sneak in. And I tried to help out just because I wanted to be a part. And, lo and behold, years later, I became the chairman of it — which led me involved with the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame,” Morrell said.
But his biggest passion lies beyond anything these opportunities can offer him.
“My biggest priority is honestly my family. I’ve got four kids, we are coming up to grandchild number six, and with that, I really embrace the opportunity I have with my grandkids, they’re still trying to figure out Papa’s sense of humor, sometimes they get it, sometimes they don’t. But when my kids call, I’m there,” Morrell explained.
Morrell’s passion for service has rubbed off on his family. Two of his four children have served in the military, one following in his footsteps as a Marine.
Two of Morrell’s brothers were also Marines — with one giving the ultimate sacrifice as he served our country.
And Morrell’s wife, Mary, has also gotten involved in service to the community alongside her husband.
This all goes to show that, although Morrell’s days in the Marines are long gone, his ‘Semper Fi’ spirit is with him till the end.
Morrell and his wife leave for Hawaii on Friday, where they will be reuniting with Morrell’s Marine buddies. There, they will get to visit their station for the first time in 33 years, and they’ll celebrate the birthday of the Marine Corps on November 10.