Hidden Heroes

HIDDEN HEROES: Former POW now helps veterans get their benefits

Morris Price's remarkable story of survival during the Korean War

CLANTON, Ala. (WIAT) - His name is Morris Napolean Price.  The 90-year old veteran got the 'Napolean' part, courtesy of his oldest sister's ex-boyfriend.  "They didn't get married," he laughed, "but I got named after him.  I've hated that name ever since I knew I had it!"

Perhaps one of the most formative times of Price's life was when he was drafted in the Korean War.  He became an Army solider, 2nd Infantry Division, 23rd Regiment, 2nd Batallion.  At what would become known as the Battle of Heartbreak Ridge Price was injured and captured. 

"A bullet went right through this nostril," he pointed to his nose, "and went through and came out back here." He indicted the back of his neck.  Price said that he and three other injured men were in search of an aid station when they were ambushed and captured by North Korean soldiers. 

"I couldn't talk, I couldn't drink water," Price remembered.  "My throat was all swelled up, and I constantly lost blood."

Price said that the enemy kept them moving, day and night.  He believed their objective was to get the prisoners as from away from the action as possible--and fast. 

"Somewhere along the way, these teeth were all shot out," he pointed to his mouth.  "They broke off."

After a little more than a month--during which time, they were starving, sometimes only eating bird seed--the North Koreans handed Price and his fellow POW's over to the Chinese.  Price said that's actually when things got better.  They had better food, care, and clothing.

Price became a cook--frequently making rice and bread.  It wasn't until 2 years later that they were released after the United Nations brokered the cease fire. 

When he returned home, Price became very involved in various veterans groups.  He learned a lot about the benefits that veterans were eligible for--but also learned that a lot of his fellow veterans were clueless about them.  "Even World War I guys--they didn't know for a long time that all they had to do was apply for their benefits because of their age," he remembered.  "They were all automatically covered at some time for 100% disability."

Prices's father-in-law was a World War I veteran.  Price helped him get his benefits--and proceeded to help many others like him.  It became something of a new mission for Price.

"I just felt an obligation to help anybody I could," Price said.  "It's just what you do."

"I remember him going to people's houses," said Price's son, Mike.  "He would talk to them, tell them what they could get, how they could get their benefits--help them."

Price would even drive veterans to the office and walk them through the process.  He isn't sure how many veterans he assisted--but he still does it to this day.  "They don't owe me anything," Price said.  "They're entitled to it.  They earned it."

Even now, Price and his son are working to straighten out his own benefits.  Price's son told CBS 42 that his father had a stroke that impacted his vision, and he is in need of new glasses, but so far they haven't been able to work out all of the details to make it happen.

"He just helps people," said Mike, "and he doesn't ask for anything in return."

If you have a Hidden Hero that you would like to nominate, send them to Leigh.Garner@wiat.com


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