When people see Donovan Morris in the halls of the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division Dam Neck Activity (NSWCDD DNA), there are three things they’re likely to notice: his pleasant smile, the slight Jamaican accent when he says hello, and his National Association of Buffalo Soldiers and Troopers Motorcycle Club cap. He is rarely hatless due to the proud history and legacy of service he represents.
Over the past year, Morris has completed approximately 12 rides with the Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club in support of various causes. One of the most memorable rides for him was a parade honoring a teenager named Lindsey who is battling cancer. The club cycled past his house for his 16th birthday, giving gifts and a ride on the back of one of the member’s motorbikes.
Morris and the club also organized a ride in support of 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 Veterans Day hosting a barbecue at a local veterans hospital, which is especially important to Morris as a veteran who retired after 28 years in the Navy.
In August 2021, Morris volunteered his time and vehicle to tow a trailer with food and supplies to Miami, Florida so it could be sent to Haiti after Tropical Storm Grace. The storm brought torrential rains to Haiti just days after a major earthquake killed more than 1,000 people there.
“One of my local chapter members is from Haiti and because of his connections, our club held a food drive,” Morris said. “Everything was sent to his house, and the whole club got together to pack up my 17-foot trailer and his, and we went to Miami at our expense.”
Besides volunteering, Morris enjoys telling 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 after the Civil War. Soldiers patrolled the western frontier and fought in a number of battles, including the Indian Wars. Today, the motorcycle club honors the legacy of the Buffalo Soldiers through educational initiatives and community service.
“We’re more than just a motorcycle club,” Morris said. ” We are a family. If you enter, you will be doing community service and you will be part of something bigger than yourself.
Morris’s drive to educate others about the Buffalo Soldiers, coupled with his selfless volunteerism, inspired his supervisor Adam Hudak to nominate him for the NSWCDD Distinguished Community Service Award. The award recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to their communities through volunteer service. Morris, who serves as the Senior On-Duty Engineering Officer Training Officer of the Combat Force Tactical Trainer at NSWCDD DNA, will receive the award at a ceremony June 17 in Fredericksburg.
“Donovan exemplifies the mission of the Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club and carries the Buffalo Soldier story with him,” said Hudak, Surface Drive Systems Modernization Branch Manager at NSWCDD DNA. “He is an educator and a 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 ready to help. He taught me how taking the time to ask a simple question and listen can open a door into someone’s life and create a connection beyond the daily work. He also pointed out that the world is much bigger than any one individual and that as a team we can have a huge impact on the community.