By Kristen Miller
COKATO, MN Call him a daredevil or an adrenaline chaser, but 90-year-old Carl Morris of Cokato was just keeping a promise he made to himself the last time he jumped out of an airplane 10 years ago when he turned 80.
Last Monday, Morris celebrated his 90th birthday by jumping out of an airplane 13,000 feet above Winsted at Westside Skydivers. Twenty family members were there cheering him on.
The first time Morris jumped out of an airplane was while serving in World War II with the US Army’s 11th Airborne Division from January 1945 to July 1947.
Morris was actually on the ship heading towards Japan when Japan surrendered.
“When they heard we were coming and they surrendered,” Morris jokes.
It took 31 days for the ship to get to Japan, making stops at islands along the way “so we could get our feet on solid ground,” Morris explained.
While aboard, Morris said he never got seasick, though there were others who weren’t as lucky.
They spent a few months on patrol in Okinawa and then went off to the main island of Japan for training. That was where Morris took his first jump.
In order to qualify as a trooper, Morris had to take five jumps and then again once every three months thereafter to maintain the credentials.
When asked why he wanted to become a trooper and fall out of the sky, Morris said he had a crazy idea and thought it would just be fun to try it.
Morris’s time in the service was a good experience because it allowed him to travel, which he hadn’t done before.
When he returned home from the service, Morris bought a farm in Stockholm Township and operated it for 60 years.
It was a general farming operation with Morris raising pigs and steers, along with cash crops of corn and beans.
“Farming was a really good life,” he commented.
When Morris turned 80, he thought it would be fun to try it again jumping out of an airplane, that is. So, he went to Hutchinson, where there was still skydiving at the time.
After jumping, he promised himself that if he lives to see 90, he would jump again to celebrate.
As the plane flew to the jumping site, the crew and other skydivers sang “Happy Birthday” to him, making the moment that much more memorable for Morris.
Jumping in the Army was fun, but it was also nerve-wracking, Morris explained, as he showed a picture of himself in the Army plane looking a bit anxious as he prepared for a jump.
Jumping last Monday, was no exception. Morris said he found himself getting a bit jittery in the plane, particularly when the other skydivers started jumping, signifying it was soon his turn.
From flying above the clouds at 13,000 feet to falling at 100 miles per hour, skydiving is something Morris said, “Words can’t describe.”
As he fell from the sky, he could see as far away as Minneapolis. It also began to rain, he noted. “I’m glad I had goggles on to cover my face,” he said.
He said he had been free falling for about one mile before the parachute opened.
After a quick jolt upward, Morris was floating toward the land below.
Though he suspects he was traveling about 20 miles per hour to the ground, Morris said he felt like he was floating in air. It wasn’t until the ground became closer that he sensed how fast he was actually traveling.
Though the landing was a bit rough, which was to be expected, Morris said the dive went well and he was happy that his family was there to cheer him on.
“It tickled me to see all of them come,” Morris said, adding that his nephew even came from Cloquet to watch.
Also, there filming was a crew from WCCO there to capture the milestone.
That night during the evening news, Morris and his skydiving adventure was featured in a story reported by Liz Collins. Click here to see the episode.