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Sunday, October 4, 2009

Meet Daisy Morgan Hadley, An American Patriot

By Sid Riley

Last weekend Daisy Morgan Hadley came home to Jackson County to spend a night with her family.  She and a lifelong friend Joyce Ward were on their way to Mobile for a huge reunion of the crews of the USS Lexington, which is one of the most decorated vessels in the history of  the U.S. Navy.  Daisy and Joyce  met when they were shipmates on this great aircraft carrier.  In fact, they were both among the first women to serve on the ship. 

They boarded the ship in 1981 with a contingent of only 300 women among the crew of 1500. Daisy has been nationally recognized and entered into historical records as being the first black Petty Officer to serve on  the ship. The Lexington was retired in 1992. During WWII the Lexington played a key role in the battles against Japan throughout the Pacific. The Lexington CV2 was luckily out of harbor on assignment when the Japanese struck Pearl Harbor. During the following months the ship was actively engaged in several battles before it was sunk by a Japanese Kamikaze at the Battle of Coral Sea in 1942. The navy commissioned a new aircraft carrier nearing completion, a CV 16 class, as the new Lexington in February of 1943. Known as the “Blue Ghost” the Lexington was reported in error as sunk on five occasions by the Japanese military. That was the ship Daisy served on. The ship was retired to a historical berth at Corpus Christi, Texas in 1991.

Daisy is part of the renowned Jackson County, Morgan family which has been revered as an example of  what a properly guided family environment can accomplish.  Daisy’s parents, Annie and Walter Morgan, Sr., reared eighteen children here in Jackson County.  All eighteen received a high school diploma, and most of them attended college.  Everyone who has attended Marianna High School during the  past   three decades had a Morgan as a schoolmate.  The Morgan’s are a hard working, Christian family group, contributing  significantly to our area and to our nation.

After leaving Marianna High School Daisy entered the Job Corps and worked and studied in Keystone Pennsylvania. She then enlisted in the Navy in Houston in 1971. She endured basic training in Bainbridge, Maryland and then she really began to “see the world”, true to their recruitment advertising. She served at numerous duty stations including Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Germany, London England, Balston Spa, N.Y., and ship duty on the USS Lexington, She is now retired from the navy, but she works as a NROTC instructor at Northwestern High School in Hyattsville, Maryland.

While she was stationed in Germany she met an army man from Chicago, Frank Hadley. After a proper courtship, he finally proposed to Daisy one day in the chow hall. Daisy accepted, but scolded him, saying, “You are supposed to take me out to dinner and then ask me…..not do it in a chow hall!” But the marriage has worked, and they have two sons who are currently enrolled in college....appropriately at “Morgan State University”.

When Daisy and Joyce arrived at the Morgan family home on Thursday afternoon, they were excited about some retired military men they had met in the Atlanta airport while on their way south. These men were returning from their own military reunion when they began to talk with Daisy and Joyce. It seems these men were part of the crew of Jimmy Doolittle whose brave flyers flew huge B-25’s from the deck of the USS Hornet in a daring raid on Tokyo as our first retribution for Pearl Harbor.

Daisy and Joyce enjoyed a great meal and evening with the Morgan family, and left the next morning for Mobile, and their reunion with old shipmates from the historic aircraft carrier on which they served our nation. We can be assured the Morgan family is very proud of Daisy, and all of us here in Jackson County should also be very proud that this American Patriot was reared in our community.

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