Graduating from high school in 1940 in St. Louis, Thomas Morris - Tommy to his friends - wanted adventure. He joined the Navy, requesting submarine duty.

He found adventure beyond his dreams.He asked for submarine duty because a friend told him submarine crews, numbering about 72, were like a big, happy family compared with battleships, which carried as many as 3,000. And the pay was good - $21 a month, half again that of other sailors because of dangerous duty.

After a short training period at the Great Lakes and time aboard the USS Holland, a submarine tender in Pearl Harbor, but without formal submarine training, he was transferred to the USS Seadragon. He remained on the Seadragon, a part of the Asiatic Fleet, for 3 1/2 years.

Touring the Philippines and playing softball during off hours fit his dreams of adventure. But on Dec. 7, 1941, with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, everything changed abruptly.

A few days later, on Dec. 10, high-level Japanese bombers unleashed a devastating attack on the Cavite Navy Yard near Manila where the Seadragon was tied up, being overhauled.

The Seadragon's communications officer, Ensign Samuel Howard Hunter Jr., was hit by shrapnel during the early part of the attack. He was killed instantly, the first submarine casualty of the war.

Fires and explosions followed, some from a torpedo repair shop, a paint shop and oil tanks on shore and some from direct hits on ships tied nearby. The USS Pigeon crept in to maneuver the Seadragon away from the wharf and into the channel. Once in the channel, Seadragon could maneuver under its own power and the night was spent making patch-up repairs.

The Seadragon assisted Adm. Thomas C. Hart, Asiatic Fleet commander, in evacuating his Manila headquarters and filled three missions evacuating important people from Corregidor and hauling food from Cebu.

On Dec. 16, with part of Hart's staff on board, the Seadragon got under way for Soerabaja, Dutch East Indies, where additional repairs were made to the submarine. But there was no time to repaint the blistered exterior.

The paint on both Seadragon and Pigeon was severely blistered by a fireball and intense wave of heat that had come from an exploding oil tank ashore while making the escape from Cavite.

Subsequent surfacing and submerging eroded the paint, revealing the rusty red lead base, and this led to a legend picked up by Tokyo Rose. She broadcast stories of the "Red Pirates of the China Coast," although there was never more than one.

Seadragon's mission was to patrol and plunder enemy shipping. The first identified ship to be sunk in a night submerged attack was the Tamagawa Maru, a 6,441-ton vessel sunk on Feb. 2, 1942. "By the end of our second patrol, we had been at sea 84 days," Morris said. On several occasions, the adventure was harrowing when Seadragon narrowly escaped being sunk.

A dramatic event of a different type occurred Sept. 11, 1942, when Seaman Darrell Dean Rector became seriously ill. Wheeler Lipes, a 23-year-old pharmacist's mate first class, determined Rector was suffering from appendicitis and needed immediate surgery.

Although Lipes had never performed an appendectomy, nor seen one done, Cmdr. William E. "Pete" Ferrall asked Lipes if he could do it. Lipes felt it was Rector's only chance.

The submarine submerged 120 feet in quiet waters, a crew to assist was chosen and others assigned to stand by to help as required. The table in the officer's wardroom was used as an operating table.

The ship's medical chest contained hemostats (clamps for closing blood vessels), sponges, catgut, gauze, ether, sulfa tablets that could be ground into an antiseptic powder and a few other things. But many instruments had to be fashioned from materials at hand.

Bent tablespoons became muscle retractors. A machinist's mate fashioned a handle for a scapel and an inverted tea strainer covered with gauze was used to administer ether. A searchlight was rigged over the operating table and instruments were boiled in a solution of torpedo alcohol and water.

Lipes studied the submarine's medical book and others rehearsed the roles they would play. Finally the patient was brought in, roused, and the situation explained to him. His reply was "Let's go."

The surgery lasted almost 2 1/2 hours. The ether almost gave out, the operating room staff was almost anesthetized and the entire crew felt the effects of etherized air being circulated through the ship, although the crew remained eager for word about the surgery. Reports on its progress went from person to person throughout the ship.

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Thirteen days after surgery, Rector was back at his battle station.

After a few more adventures, some service elsewhere and some time in a military hospital, Morris was discharged from the service Aug. 7, 1945, in California.

Still possessing a thirst for adventure and a desire to see the West, Morris and a friend began hitchhiking across the country. In a bar on Price's Main Street, someone invited Morris to go deer hunting, something he had never done. He found the area, with abundant fishing, hiking, camping and hunting, to his liking and got a job with a local contractor while the friend went on alone.

Later, Morris worked for Price City for 33 years, serving as supervisor of the cemetery, parks and ball fields for many years. He married Mildred Kenner and they raised three sons.

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