After a year-long deployment to Afghanistan, Capt. Bryant Morrison is visiting family in Kernersville before heading to his new assignment at Fort Eustis near Newport News and Williamsburg in Virginia.
As a JAG attorney for the U.S. Army, it is part of Morrison’s job to make sure both soldiers and operations follow the letter of the law regarding legal questions regarding issues ranging from estate planning here at home to operations and rules of engagement overseas.
“I love my job,” said Morrison on Tuesday morning as he talked about the years since he graduated from East Forsyth High School, always with the goal of becoming an attorney.
Morrison grew up in Kernersville, the son of James and Patti Morrison and the late Martha Pearson. He graduated from East in 2002 and studied for his undergraduate degree in sociology at East Carolina University before earning his law degree from the Charlotte School of Law in 2010. He joined the Army on July 4, 2011.
While Morrison said he knew from an early age that he wanted to be an attorney, he didn’t decide to join the military until after completing an internship with the Army in South Korea.
“I fell in love with the job, the service and the sense of camaraderie,” said Morrison.
During his internship, Morrison lived in Daegu, South Korea, where a buddy of his lived at the time. Over the course of the 10-week assignment, Morrison worked in areas of the law that included client services, labor law and military justice. Living and working in a foreign country was eye-opening for Morrison.
“It was an enjoyable experience. I really enjoyed the different cultural experience. It opened my eyes to a big world. I was always kind of quiet, and it broke my shell and let me experience what the world has to offer,” he said.
After working for the Judge Advocate General Corps (JAG) offices at Fort Carson in Colorado, where he was responsible for military administration issues and serving as an advocate for soldiers regarding issues such as estate planning and prepping for deployments, Morrison was deployed himself to Afghanistan with the 4th Infantry Division last year and spent 12 months living at Kandahar Airfield in southeast Afghanistan.
The airfield is a small city unto itself, serving a population around 30,000. Morrison spent his working hours focusing on operation law, including syncing in with operational planning and making sure our forces were following international law regarding such things as laws of conflict and rules of engagement.
“It’s a small city, but without a lot of the comforts of home,” described Morrison. It’s a small self-sustaining city, with probably the same number of people or a little more than Kernersville.”
Much of what Morrison was involved in cannot be discussed, but he did talk a little about the United States’ overall mission in Afghanistan. His perspective has been shaped by being there and seeing the work our soldiers are doing.
“My perspective is shaped by being there. I feel like we’re doing a good job there as far as supporting the Afghan security forces. It’s a capable force as far as providing security to their country,” said Morrison. “The Afghans are more responsible than they’ve ever been. They’re doing a good job.”
Morrison said one of the things he enjoys most about his job is the pride he feels in the work he did in Afghanistan.
“There’s a sense of pride and satisfaction in the work I was doing. I was doing a job and trying to help our forces and the Afghan forces better their country,” he said.
Morrison met his wife, Cassie, while both were students at East Carolina. The couple has a 16-month-old daughter, Harper, who was just under four-months-old when her father left for Afghanistan. He was greeted by both his wife and daughter when he returned to Fort Carson earlier this month. A photographer documented the father/daughter reunion, but Morrison said that with today’s technology, he was able to communicate with both quite a bit while overseas and he came home on leave in March.
As far as requesting assignment to Virginia, Morrison said he and Cassie wanted to split the difference in miles between his hometown of Kernersville and hers in Maryland.
“We knew we wanted to be on the East Coast and between families,” he said.
Morrison said he sees himself staying in the military for at least 20 years, making a career of his military service. Afterward, he envisions himself perhaps teaching.
“I plan on staying in the JAG Corps and making it a full career,” he said. “I think we’d like to settle in the Charlotte area and I would eventually like to teach one day. That’s my ultimate dream.”
The here and now is pretty good, too, though.
“I’m loving it,” said Morrison.