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The Sidell

Covering news for Sidell * Indianola * Fairmount * Jamaica * Allerton * Catlin

115th Year, No. 21

Thursday, May 22, 1002

Medal of Honor Recipient Draws Visit

By Rinda Maddox

Don Morfe and his wife always liked to travel "with a purpose."  After a leisurely trip out west four years ago, his trips are now centered around the purpose of photographing graves of Medal of Honor recipients.

Morfe, of Baltimore, Md., was recently at Woodlawn Cemetery, Indianola, to photograph the grave of Ernest Williams, a former Sidell resident and Medal of Honor recipient.

Morfe said his adventure began when he was traveling out west and had done all the "touristy" things.

At Fort McPherson he was visiting with a local who told him of a cemetery nearby with the nation's largest percentage of Medal of Honor recipients buried there.  There were only four but being a very small cemetery gave it the largest percentage.

The later came across a museum of Medal of Honor recipients and their "travels with a purpose" had began.

Ernest Williams, born in 1887, was a 1903 graduate of Sidell High School.  He was the son of the former Sidell Journal owner, T. B. Williams.  Williams received his Medal of Honor during the Dominican Republic Police Action in 1916.  He died July 31, 1940.

Morfe has found a lot of help on the website which lists all gravesites for all Medal of Honor recipients.

"The recipients are often referred to as Medal of Honor winners but the recipients never win the honor, but earn the honor to have it bestowed upon them for doing something extraordinary," Morfe explained.

Morfe said there are only two father and son pairs to both receive the medal.  They are Theodore Roosevelt and his son, General Theodore Roosevelt and General Douglas MacArthur and his father, General Arthur MacArthur.

Morfe, a retired CPA since 1993 researches the recipient and then photographs their gravesite. He posts the photographs on the HomeOfHeroes website and website.

Before leaving on this latest three week trip, he had already photographed 1900 gravesites in 34 states.  This trip included visits to Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and Illinois.  In Illinois they visited cemeteries in Olney, Albion, Fairfield, Elizabethtown, Anna, Alto Pass, Collinsville, Medora, Alton, Bunker Hill, Gillespie, Vandalia, Patoka, Tower Hill, Clinton, Saybrook, Monticello and Indianola.

"A little less than half are Civil War Medal of Honor recipients," Morfe says, "and needless to say, some are very difficult to find, especially if they had an alias in the military."

When he returns to Baltimore he should have another 95 photographs to add to his list.

Morfe carries with him the "bible," a large hardbound copy of "Medal of Honor Recipients, 1863-1994, Volume I" compiled by George Lang.  He showed Editor Rinda Maddox and local historian Linda Rosnett the section of the book on Ernest Williams.


Morfe always had an interest in World War II history since he was a kid during that time and finds this hobby very interesting.

Morfe said he has learned fast to call ahead and check where the graves are located.  He contacts city halls, historical societies, et. and has a detailed itinerary before leaving on a trip.

"I had already been photographing the birth place and home place of U.S. Presidents and national parks," Morfe said.  "We have really enjoyed the traveling and meeting people.  It's fun and keeps me busy.


The Sidell Reporter

Linda Rosnett talks with Don Morfe of Baltimore while he visits Woodlawn Cemetery to photograph the grave of Ernest C. Williams.


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