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UTM alumnus casualty of battle in Iraq

Published (Volume 76, No. 29)

Services for Marine Capt. Brent Morel, 27, a 1999 graduate of UTM, were held Thursday, April 15, at the Cherokee Baptist Church in Memphis.

Morel was killed when his platoon was ambushed during heavy fighting in Fallujah, Iraq, on Wednesday, April 7. He was the commander of Bravo Company, 2nd Platoon, part of the Marine 1st Reconnaissance Battalion. Though five others in his unit were wounded, Morel was the only one killed.

“He was a leader,” said his father, Mike Morel, in a Bartlett Express story printed April 15. “He put his men first. They were his responsibility. He led from the front.”

Morel was a 1994 graduate of Bartlett High School and attended the University of Memphis for a year before transferring to UTM as a History major. He joined the Marine Reserves in 1995 and was commissioned as an officer shortly after graduating from UTM. He received orders for Iraq in late 2003 after a 10-month assignment in Okinawa, Japan.

His parents, Mike and Molly Morel, moved to McKenzie in 1996. Mike Morel is a nurse anesthetist at Volunteer Community Hospital in Martin and Molly Morel, who is originally from Martin, works at Martin Anesthesia Group. A memorial service was held Thursday outside the hospital to honor Capt. Morel.

In a McKenzie Banner story printed April 14, the Morels said they had been flooded with visits, phone calls and gifts.

“People have called from other states that we don’t even know, just to talk,” Molly Morel said.

One especially meaningful visit, the Morels said, was from the family of Specialist Thomas Arthur Foley III, 23, formerly of Dresden, who was killed south of Baghdad April 14, 2003.

The family members included Foley’s grandmother, with whom he grew up, and an aunt and uncle, all of Dresden.

All monetary gifts will be used to establish a scholarship fund in Morel’s name, his parents said.

According to the Bartlett Express, Morel’s sister, Marcy Woods, remembered her brother as serious, responsible and disciplined. She also said there was one aspect about Morel she would miss the most.

“His protection. He protected me,” she said, “and he was over there protecting every one of us.”

“Do not let my son, and the others who have died, do not let them die in vain. Let the warriors take care of the war,” Mike Morel said in the Express.

“My son believed in what they were doing there. He died doing what he believed in.”

Besides his parents and sisters, Morel is survived by his wife, Amy Mullins Morel of Camp Pendleton, Calif., formerly of Memphis; a brother-in-law, Richard Woods; a niece, Madison Nelson; and his grandparents, Paul and Georgette Smith of Martin, Tommy Morel of Mount Juliet and JoAnn Vester of New Johnsonville.

Morel was buried in the Memphis National Cemetery.