Donald "Don" Morrow, Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command (SDDC) senior strategic planner, culminated his civil service career with a retirement ceremony Nov. 30 at the Seay Auditorium on Scott AFB, Ill.

Morrow served eight years at SDDC and 37 years total with the federal government as a military member, contractor and civil service employee.

Bryan Samson, SDDC deputy to the commander, officiated the ceremony. He presented Morrow with a personal gift--a working compass, replicated after the one famously used by Lewis and Clark on their journey across the uncharted territories of Northwestern America--one that would eventually help them find their way back home.

"The good thing about a compass is that you can set it to help send you back home again. So I hope you can come home again and come see us," Samson said.

Maj. Gen. Stephen E. Farmen, SDDC commanding general, spoke about Morrow's dedicated service to the nation and described him as the "DNA of the Transportation Corps."

Farmen also presented Morrow with the Order of Saint Christopher Medal, which is presented to exceptional transporters who display an outstanding professional competence and served the Transportation Corps with selflessness.

This was Morrow's fifth time retiring. He said he has always had a problem with "making it stick." In fact, he said he started working when he was just 14 years old and hasn't stopped since.

Morrow grew up in Jefferson City, Mo. in a transportation family. His grandfather, father and all of his paternal uncles had careers working for the Missouri Pacific Railroad.

He was an active kid, playing a variety of sports from football, to basketball, baseball, wrestling and even tennis. But he excelled in one sport in particular, receiving not only several scholarship offers to colleges in Illinois but also recognition from one of the top professional tennis players in the world, Butch Buccholz.

After Morrow aced Buccholz's son four times in a row during a match, Buccholz told Morrow's father if he wanted his son to play tennis professionally, he would fund half of the expenses. So, Morrow had a tough decision to make -- take a shot at playing tennis professionally or follow in his family's footsteps working for the Missouri Pacific Railroad.

While working at a local golf and tennis club, Don suddenly had an epiphany that easily helped him make his decision.

"I like people too much. I couldn't do it. (To play professionally), you have to be totally dedicated, with no distractions," he said.

So, in 1968, he compromised and did a little of both. He accepted an athletic scholarship to play tennis at Lincoln University, a Historically Black College in Jefferson City.

This decision made him one of the first Caucasians in the college's history to attend the university on an athletic scholarship.

On his summers off from school, he followed in the family business and worked as an intern for the Missouri Pacific Railroad in St. Louis, Mo., maintaining records and serving as ordering officer for all supplies.

While in college, Don also decided to join the ROTC program, with intentions of eventually returning to the railroad life. Unbeknownst to him, he was paving a path that would set him apart from previous family generations.

In 1972, Morrow graduated as a Distinguished Military Graduate and was commissioned as a 2nd Lt. in the Army Transportation Corps.

His first assignment was at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii with the 25th Supply and Transport Battalion. There, he served as a platoon leader of the Medium Truck Platoon and later as a company executive officer.

In April of 1976, he left for the East Coast and reported to the 42nd Transportation Battalion at Fort Meade, Md. There, he assumed command of the 380th Transportation Company Light Truck Platoon.

Morrow performed duties such as supporting the inauguration parade of President Jimmy Carter, aiding two rotations of summer training activities at the United States Military Academy, a Logistics-Over-The-Shore (LOTS) exercise at Fort Eustis and Fort Story, VA and various XVIII Airborne Corps Emergency Deployment Readiness exercises.

It turns out, he liked the Army more than he thought he would. After his first couple of years, he didn't follow his intentions of working for the railroad, and instead continued his duties with the Army.

Serving as the motor transportation operations officer supervising the operations of five motor-pools, Morrow found himself assigned at the prestigious U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York.

It was here that he coordinated and supervised crucial transportation missions with the President of the United States at the time, as well as many other VIPs, including the return of the hostages from Iran following the presidential election.

Among his list of important duties while at West Point, he dedicated many hours to developing and implementing a vehicle rotation plan to extend the life of the automotive fleet.

Initially Morrow was a motor transportation operations officer, but he quickly advanced to the plans and programs officer position in the Transportation and Maintenance Division. He was a mainstay in this role where he was granted $1 million authority and was responsible for planning and programming for all operations of the division.

After his stint at West Point, Morrow traveled to United States Army Europe (USAREUR) and 7th Army Headquarters in Heidelberg, Germany to serve as a logistics operations officer.

There, he served as a logistics captain lead for all field training exercises in USAREUR, which included the annual Return of Forces to Germany (REFORGER), which at the time was a series of exercises dedicated to demonstrating United States resolve to reinforce Europe in the event of an attack on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

He was influential in developing the logistics exercise objectives for REFORGERs and functioning as the Logistics Chief throughout each exercise.

Morrow's ability to lead others, dedication and accountability didn't go unnoticed by his colleagues and bosses. He was promoted to major while serving in Germany.

Shortly after promotion, he was moved to Fort Hood, Texas, where he was assigned as the transportation operations section chief and again developed a significant method to help those on a larger scale. The system helped to manage force movement operations and to locate and plan organization movements and sustainment delivery.

In 1988, Morrow was off to what would later become a familiar place--Scott AFB, Ill., and a Joint assignment with USTRANSCOM as an operations research analyst in J5 Strategy and Studies where he was the transportation industry analyst for the USTRANSCOM commander.

One year later, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel and moved to be the chief of the Technical Support Branch, supporting the Strategy and Studies Division.

He also served as the functional program manager for all technical support contracts within J5 Strategy and Studies Division. During this time, he was crucial to the formation of the Analysis Mobility Platform (AMP), which is still online today.

Morrow transferred to Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., where he assumed command of the 58th Transportation Battalion in the First Engineer Brigade. He was selected for promotion to colonel and to attend the in-resident Army War College course, but he declined both and decided to pursue his own personal interests outside of the Army, and subsequently, retired in 1993 after 21 years of honorable service.

At this retirement, he was presented the Engineer Regimental Award of the Bronze Order of the De Fleury Medal, a unique award for a Transporter.

Morrow went on to serve as a senior military instructor for the JROTC program and coached basketball at Jennings High School in St. Louis County for two years.

In 1995, he went to work in advanced research and development of applications of artificial intelligence for military command and control decision-making tools, as a technical program manager for a major defense contractor in Southwest Asia.

As a result of the September 11th terrorist attacks, Morrow volunteered to be recalled to active duty. His recall led him to the Army Sustainment Command headquarters at Rock Island Arsenal, Ill., where he started and managed the Army's $750M annually funded Global Left-behind Equipment Program maintaining equipment left behind at home station while the units were deployed.

He then retired a second time in 2009. This time he retraced his footsteps, returning him to Lockheed Martin and later on deployed as the contracted Brigade S3 of the 401st Army Field Support Brigade in Afghanistan for a year.

Finally, in 2010, Morrow transitioned to SDDC as the Senior Strategic Planner, where he led several significant strategic initiatives, provided solutions to improve processes, and positively impacted the Joint Deployment and Distribution Enterprise (JDDE) and Army Materiel Command's Material Enterprise.

According to him, one of his biggest accomplishments was being appointed the Army's transportation services portfolio manager (PfM). While serving as portfolio manager, he developed the Army Services Acquisition Life-cycle Management IDEF Model, depicting the touch points where the Transportation PfM's actions were required. He also was instrumental in providing key transportation-related guidance for the Optimization of Army Services Acquisition Implementation Plan.

In 2018, after 37 years of dedicated service to his nation, Morrow decided it was time to retire one last time.

"Don embodies what it means to be a Surface Warrior," Farmen stated.

Morrow concluded his ceremony with a plea to his soon-to-be, former colleagues.

"It just continues to get better and better. I challenge you to not let that stop. Make it better every day--every day, meaning make it more serviceable to Soldiers, sailors, coastguardsmen and airmen." he said.

As Samson closed his remarks, he finished by reciting a favorite quote of Morrow's that stuck out to him, which reads: "As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received," Ephesians 4:1 (NIV). "Though Don didn't end up in the same area as his family, the transportation roots stuck with him as he has indeed served a life worthy of his calling," Samson explained.