Major General Morphis Albert Jamiel, 1922-2013, truly exemplified the very best of America. Born into the well-known Jamiel family of Warren in 1922, his parents were the late Albert and Mary Jamiel. He had twelve brothers and sisters. From this humble origin in the small town of Warren, he eventually carved out a notable career as a well-respected attorney, public servant, and soldier.
Morphis graduated from Warren public schools in 1940 and went on to the University of Rhode Island, where he earned a degree in chemical engineering. He joined the U.S. Army in 1943, and after basic training, he was sent to Officer Candidate School at Ft. Benning, Georgia, where he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1944.
Shortly after graduation, the newly-minted second lieutenant Jamiel found himself in Europe as a platoon leader in the 38th Armored Infantry Battalion of the 7th Armored Division. During the initial onslaught into Belgium by Nazi forces in what became known as the Battle of the Bulge, Lt Jamiel found himself in the forefront of bitter fighting in the cold, snowy forests of the Ardennes.
As a brief anecdote, when I was an instructor for the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, part of our course of instruction was to study and discuss the Battle of the Bulge. I was greatly surprised to read among the several reports of the action, one analysis recounting the heroic deeds of Lt. Morphis Jamiel! I brought back a copy of the report and presented it to General Jamiel. I recall saying,”General you’ve really made it when you are mentioned by name in an Army manual!” He was extremely proud of that document and donated it to Warren’s George Haile Free Library along with other artifacts that are now on display. Among his awards, Morphis received the Bronze Star Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters (4 awards), the Purple Heart, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge and the Legion of Merit.
After returning to Warren, Morphis pursued his life-long drive to obtain a top-flight education. At war’s end he entered Boston University Law School and earned his law degree in 1948. As a true citizen-soldier he was again mobilized in 1950 for Korean War service with the 43rd Infantry Division. As an indication of his versatility, he became branch-qualified in the Engineers, Military Intelligence, Military Police, Field Artillery, and Judge Advocate General Corps, retiring in 1978 as a general officer.
In his civilian career Morphis served on the Warren Town Council and as a state senator and state representative. He also became the town solicitor and then its highly-principled probate judge–a post he held until he was 90 years-of-age. His list of active affiliations and memberships is truly overwhelming. A review of his extensive Masonic service covered four double-spaced pages! He took great pride in serving as Moofus the Clown for the Shriners.
Morphis died peacefully on January 26, 2013 and was buried with full military honors in Warren’s South Burial Ground.
– BG Richard J. Valente USA