Wayne Morris was born on February 17, 1914, in Los Angeles, California. He began his acting career in 1936, but interrupted it when he accepted a commission as an Ensign in the U.S. Naval Reserve on June 4, 1941, going on active duty beginning June 26, 1941. After serving as a member of the Aviation Cadet Selection Board, Ens Morris entered flight training in April 1942, and was designated a Naval Aviator in August 1942. His next assignment was as a flight instructor at U.S. Naval Reserve Aviation Base Hutchinson, Kansas, from September 1942 to June 1943. After attending fighter training at NAS Melbourne, Florida, Lt Morris served as an F6F-3/5 Hellcat pilot with VF-15 aboard the aircraft carrier USS Essex (CV-9) from September 1943 to December 1944, during which time he was credited with the destruction of 7 enemy aircraft in aerial combat, plus 1 probable. He then served as a Flight Officer and Experimental Project Officer at NAF Armitage Field, California, from December 1944 until he left active duty and entered the Naval Reserve on October 17, 1945. Wayne then resumed his acting career, remaining in the Naval Reserve until his death from a heart attack while watching aerial maneuvers on the bridge of the aircraft carrier USS Bon Homme Richard (CV-31) on September 14, 1959. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
His 3rd Distinguished Flying Cross Citation reads:
For distinguishing himself by heroism and extraordinary achievement while participating in an aerial flight against the enemy in the vicinity of the Northern Philippines on 24 October 1944. While serving as pilot of a carrier based fighter airplane on a combat air patrol mission he intercepted an overwhelming enemy airborne attack. Although outnumbered he attacked and personally destroyed two enemy aircraft while airborne, and aided materially in dispersing the enemy attack. His heroism, skill and courage were at all times in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.