PORT TOWNSEND — An Irondale veteran paid tribute to Senator John McCain with a sign that proclaimed him a hero and patriot.
Timothy L. Morgan, who said he served in the late ‘70s, wanted to honor the late U.S. senator from Arizona who died Aug. 25 after a long battle with brain cancer. He erected a temporary, home-made memorial on city property in front of the Port Townsend Visitor Information Center fronting Sims Way through Saturday, the day of McCain’s funeral.
“John McCain was an American Hero. My dad was a hero,” he said, clutching a photo of his father, a navigator who spent 30 years in the Navy.
The connection to McCain was personal, Morgan said.
Morgan’s father, James L. Morgan, was serving as a navigator on a reconnaissance plane, and was stationed on the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal in 1967, when a malfunction caused a rocket to strike the external fuel tank of an A-4 Skyhawk, his son said.
Jet fuel spilled across the flight deck ignited and caused several explosions and fires, killing 134 sailors and injuring 161 men. Morgan lived, along with Lieutenant Commander and future Senator John McCain.
Morgan was upset that the flag flying over the White House originally was lowered to half staff for only 48 hours. He said that according to protocol, a proclamation allows the flag to be lowered until internment. He felt strongly that the flag should have stayed at half-staff out of honor and respect.
Eventually the flag was lowered again.
“Politics aside, you cannot treat an American hero and statesman that way,” he said. “I don’t care what your politics are, it’s not the way we do things in this country. It’s petty and heartless.”
Morgan said duty and service are important to his family.
“In addition to my dad, my mother was one of the first WAVEs,” he explained. ”My older brother spent 20 years in service, my niece spent 10 years in. It’s important to me to be respectful to all veterans.”
He said he had received several horn blasts of support by passers-by during his day-long vigil. Someone brought flowers to honor the senator as well.
Morgan held his dad’s photograph tightly through it all, recalling him and his connection to McCain, and celebrating their service to the country.
Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Jeannie McMacken can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at [email protected]