Jayhawk fan in Iraq proudly displays crimson and blue

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Showdown to draw worldwide attention

Saturday night's KU-MU match-up is on national TV, but the game is expected to draw some worldwide attention.

Lawrence native Rick Morris won't be getting much sleep for awhile.

Morris will begin watching the Kansas-Missouri football game at 4 a.m. Sunday. That's Iraq time.

Morris is a civilian contractor working with a fire department at Camp Bucca, which is about 300 miles south of Baghdad. A Lawrence High School graduate and a member of its Hall of Fame, Morris recently hung a Jayhawk flag in the camp mess hall.

"I will be wearing my Jayhawk shirt and giving the Missouri boys some verbal abuse. All in good fun," Morris said in an e-mail to the Journal-World.

The game will be carried by the Armed Forces Network and will be replayed at 4 p.m. Sunday.

"So I'll get to see KU beat the stuffings out of Missouri not only once but twice," Morris said.

Morris is an assistant fire chief with the fire department at Bucca, which is the site of a detention camp where about 20,000 insurgents and others are being held, he said.

Morris served as a firefighter for several years when he was in the Air Force. When he got out, he worked in Iraq in 2003 and 2004 as a contractor. He was the American fire chief in Baghdad's Green Zone.

Now making his home in Knob Noster, Mo., Morris said he got the urge to return to Iraq after assisting relief efforts in Greensburg earlier this year. He said he also was asked by a company that contracts with the U.S. government to return to Iraq.

"I decided I still had one more time in me," he said.