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NEWS | June 14, 2022

NSWCDD Dam Neck Activity employee honors Buffalo Soldiers’ legacy through community service

By NSWCDD Dam Neck Activity Public Affairs

When people see Donovan Morris in the Halls of Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division Dam Neck Activity (NSWCDD DNA), there are three things they will likely notice: his pleasant smile, the slight Jamaican accent when he says hello, and his National Association of the Buffalo Soldiers and Troopers Motorcycle Club hat. He is rarely without the hat because of the proud history and legacy of service it represents.  

In the past year, Morris has completed about 12 rides with the Buffalo Soldiers motorcycle club in support of various causes. One of the most memorable rides for him was a parade in honor of a teenager named Lindsey who is battling cancer. The club rode their bikes in front of her home for her 16th birthday, delivering presents and a ride on the back of one of the member’s motorcycles.  

Morris and the club also organized a ride to support the Martha J. Watson Breast Cancer Survivor Group, and participated in “Rumble through the Tunnels” for the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society and the Unity Ride for Sickle Cell Disease. The group spends every Veteran’s Day hosting a barbeque at a local Veteran’s Hospital, which is especially meaningful to Morris as a fellow veteran who retired after 28 years in the Navy.

In August 2021, Morris volunteered his time and his vehicle towing a trailer with food and supplies to Miami, Florida, so it could be sent to Haiti following Tropical Storm Grace. The storm brought torrential rain to Haiti just days after a major earthquake claimed more than 1,000 lives there.

“One of my local chapter members is from Haiti, and because of his connection, our club did a food drive,” Morris said. “Everything was sent to his house, and the entire club got together to pack my 17-foot trailer and his, and we drove to Miami on our own dime.”  

In addition to volunteering his time, Morris enjoys talking to others about the Buffalo Soldiers and the club that bears their name. The Buffalo Soldiers were African American soldiers who served in the U.S. Army’s 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments following the Civil War. The soldiers patrolled the western frontier and participated in a number of battles, including the Indian Wars. Today, the motorcycle club honors the legacy of the Buffalo Soldiers through education initiatives and community service. 

“We’re more than just a motorcycle club,” Morris said. “We’re a family. If you come in, you’re going to do community service and you’re going to be part of something bigger than yourself.”  

Morris’ willingness to educate others about the Buffalo Soldiers, coupled with his selfless volunteerism are what inspired his supervisor Adam Hudak to nominate him for the NSWCDD Distinguished Community Service Award. The award recognizes individuals who have made a significant contribution to their communities through volunteer service. Morris, who serves as the Battle Force Tactical Trainer In-Service Engineer Agent Training Lead Manager at NSWCDD DNA, will receive the award during a ceremony on June 17 in Fredericksburg.

“Donovan exemplifies the mission of the Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club and carries the history of the Buffalo Soldier with him,” said Hudak, Surface Training Systems Modernization Branch Head at NSWCDD DNA. “He is an educator and role model within the community. He forged a long and successful career in the Navy. He is a mentor in the office and is always willing to help. He taught me how taking the time to ask a simple question and listening can open the door into someone’s life and create a bond beyond the day-to-day job. He also reinforced that the world is much bigger than any one individual and as a team we can have tremendous influence on the community.”