By Lasca Randels
WARSAW — Morris Folk of Warsaw was honored by Kosciusko County Commissioners as the Veteran of the Month during the commissioners’ meeting Tuesday, Aug. 3.
He was born Nov. 7, 1950, to Wilfred and Martha Folk, the youngest of four children. He grew up in the Claypool area and went to school in Claypool through ninth grade. After that, he attended school in Warsaw and graduated from Warsaw Community High School.
Folk was drafted in November 1969. He attended basic training in Fort Knox, Ky.
From there, he was sent to Fort Eustis, Va., for advanced infantry training. After completing AIT, he received orders for Qui Nhon, Vietnam.
Folk was given a 30-day leave before heading to Vietnam but was shipped back home two and a half months later on a Red Cross emergency leave when his father needed surgery.
Folk’s father was a farmer and since it was harvest time, Folk was allowed to return home.
He applied to Fort Harrison on the north side of Indianapolis, but after 30 days he received notice that he would be sent back to Vietnam just before Christmas.
After his return to Vietnam, Folk worked in transportation and was assigned to the Motorpool where he drove a water truck, taxi cab, bus and wrecker and performed mechanical work.
While there, the camp came under mortar attack and one of the mortars exploded just a few feet away from him. Folk said he was spared “by the grace of God” and remembered that it seemed as if a big hand pushed him down behind some sandbags. He heard shrapnel fly past him but was never struck. Three other mortars lodged in the building’s eave behind him but never exploded.
“I guess it just wasn’t my time,” he said.
Later in Folk’s tour, the Viet Cong blew up the ammo dump on the outskirts of town a few miles away. A big explosion blew his TV off his footlocker, and many more explosions followed.
When Folk was granted rest and relaxation, he went to Sydney, Australia, where he ran into Dave Cox of Warsaw. Cox was on his way back home.
Folk remembers driving a load of soldiers to see Bob Hope. Folk himself didn’t go because there were so many soldiers “and you were so far away you could barely see him (Hope).”
While Folk was in Vietnam, his mother wrote to President Nixon to inquire why her son was not allowed to carry a gun or rifle while in Vietnam. Folk said he was called down to headquarters about that one.
He spent 16 months in Vietnam before returning home. Folk was promoted to the rank of Spec. 4 and given an early out because the Army was beginning to scale back.
Folk said his return home in February 1972 was tough. He recalls people yelling, spitting on and heckling Vietnam soldiers and said he was disappointed in the United States at that time. He said he’s glad things have changed and now feels appreciated.
Folk didn’t tell anyone ahead of time that he was coming home. He asked his girlfriend, Cathleen Boyer (who later became his wife) to promise that she would finish college before he informed her he was a civilian again.
He and Cathleen were married Oct. 14, 1973, and have been married for 47 years. They have two sons, Jeremy and Clayton, who have become their father’s heroes. He and Cathleen are proud of the men their sons have become, for what they have accomplished and their high standard of values. They are also the grandparents of Edward, 9; and Lawrence, 6.
The Folks have traveled to all 50 states and a few other countries. Folk was a Snap-On Tool dealer for Kosciusko County for 38 years before retiring in 2016.
Folk and his wife had the opportunity to go to the nation’s capital on an Honor Flight, courtesy of Snap-On Tools, who sent all eligible veterans who were employed with the company.
Folk has visited the Vietnam War Memorial twice. Both times he looked up Willard Clinton DeBolt. Folk said he didn’t know DeBolt but was aware that DeBolt was from Warsaw and had laid down his life for his country.
Folk’s father was a World War II veteran who served in The Philippines and Japan. His uncle, James Folk, was a Korean War veteran.
Folk shared a couple of stories of his time in the military during Tuesday’s meeting.
He joked about a time he “came near death” while in the military when he and his roommate made a tape that sounded as though they were involved in battle.
“I sent the tape to Cathleen-and it was a little while before I sent her a letter. When I got home, she was waiting. She and her friend both listened to the tape and they thought I was in a real battle. But there was a real battle when I got home,” Folk said, setting off a round of laughter.
The Folks are members of the Cook Chapel Church. Folk is also a member of Gideon’s International and Echoes of the Past tractor club.
The Folks still enjoy traveling. They spend a few weeks in Florida during the winter months. They also camp often in the summer and are known to spoil their grandchildren every chance they get.
“I’m very humbled by this,” an emotional Folk said after being presented with the Veteran of the Month plaque in recognition of his service to our country. “It’s hard for me to talk. There are so many others who deserve it more.”