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Valley View by Fereva

March 10, 2005

'If you're trying to set your life straight and take pride in what you do.'" After Morton completed a written test 45 minutes later, McKinney determined he would be qualified for embarkation, a procedure by which Marines and their gear are moved by plane, train or boat from one

destination to the next.

The new Marine's training took place at Camp Johnson, North Carolina.

In 2000, Morton was transferred to Okinawa, Japan, where he remained stationed with Marine Wing Support Squadron 172 for a year. During that time, Morton created "load" plans using computer templates to determine

that aircraft were properly balanced before take-off, when transporting troops, trucks, engineering equipment, tents, water purification systems, food rations and the like.

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Upon his return to Camp Pendleton, Oceanside, Morton met Julie Craddock in passing at a mutual friend's birthday party. Julie says she didn't think much about it at the time as Morton was dating someone else. The two met again at an enlisted "E-Club," when Morton had been assigned temporary duty at Twenty-Nine Palms, participating in CAX (Combined Army Exercise). This time, the relationship took hold and the couple dated for a year.

In a once-in-a-lifetime experience, Morton boarded the USS Pearl Harbor on Dec. 1, 2001, arriving at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on Dec. 7, 2001: Pearl Harbor Day, exactly 60 years after the attack. From there, his ship continued to Africa, where he served in a security detail during February of 2002 for a month, protecting Marines as they built a bridge for a village in Kenya near the troubled border of Somalia. Morton was equipped with a machine gun in in his foxhole lookout.

From Africa, he continued to Singapore where he bought Julie's wedding ring, then went on to make R & R stops in Australia, Thailand, Bahrain and Qatar. His deployment ended on June 15, 2002, and he proposed to Julie when he returned to San Diego. The couple was married Aug. 24, 2002, on a river boat in Laughlin, Nev.

In January of 2003, the Mortons came together one evening, each with something important to share.

"I've got some great news," Julie told her husband.

"I've got some bad news," he responded. "You go first."

"I'm pregnant!" Julie said of their daughter, Kylie, now 18 months old.

"I'm going to Iraq this weekend," Morton replied.

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