SAN ANTONIO — Very few folks live long enough to have the opportunity to extinguish 107 birthday candles in a single sitting. Even fewer can lay claim to helping begin a time-honored tradition at a major American university.

Meet retired U.S. Army Col. Tom C. "Ike" Morris — an Ellis County native, World War II hero and the oldest living Texas A&M Aggie.

Before serving as a colonel in the U.S. Army during World War II, Morris was born in Forreston, a rural town just outside of Waxahachie, on Aug. 1, 1910. He is a graduate of Waxahachie High School and 1933 alumnus of Texas A&M University where he served as president of his graduating class and lettered in track.

While a student at Texas A&M, the Association of Former Students credits Morris for playing a significant role in the evolution of the Aggie Ring tradition. An article published by the association states Morris served on a committed in 1932 that established the ring being awarded to seniors only. Morris was also recently inducted in the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets Hall of Honor.

Following his military service, Morris returned home to serve as the president of the Waxahachie ISD Board of Trustees during the 1950s, according to his great-niece and Waxahachie resident, Kim Harrison.

"Uncle Ike is a Waxahachie treasure," Harrison said. "From his military service to the legacy left at Texas A&M, he has always made, and continues to make, our family proud."

She also added that the McCullough and Harrison families of Waxahachie extend the warmest of happy birthdays to Uncle Ike.

On Saturday, July 19, Morris celebrated his 107th birthday with a reception at his San Antonio home that included visits from several former Aggies and two WWII veterans.

HOMETOWN HERO

During his time in the army, Morris was a colonel of the 38th Infantry of the 2nd Infantry Division when troops landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day Plus 1 — the day after the infamous D-Day on June 6, 1944.

Stephanie Cannon covered an event for AggieNetwork.com that saw Morris receive the French Legion of Honor from Sujiro Seam, the French Consul General, for his service during WWII. The award was presented at the Socoma Recreation Center in San Antonio on March 2, 2015.

According to the article published the following day by AggieNetwork.com, Morris led troops to liberate several French cities, including Trevieres two days after landing on Omaha Beach. He also fought against Nazi forces during the Battle of the Bulge alongside the 101st Airborne Division.

"He was my colonel. I wouldn't miss this for the world," said Buck Sloane, a former soldier under Morris and member of the Texas A&M Association of Former Students, in the March 3, 2015 article.

Those who wish to send Morris a letter or birthday card can do so by mail at 18023 Crystal Knoll, San Antonio, Texas, 78258 or by email at tcikemorristurning107@gmail.com.