After shakedown off San Diego, California, Morrison departed Seattle 25 February 1944 for the South Pacific, via Pearl Harbor and the Marshalls. In mid-April the destroyer joined TG 50.17 for screening operations off Seeadler Harbor, Manus, Admiralties, during the fueling of carriers then striking Japanese installations in the Carolines.
Morrison returned to Pearl Harbor 9 May to train for the giant amphibious leap into the Marianas. Departing Pearl 31 May via Roi, Marshalls, she arrived east of Saipan 13 June for a busy month. Her accurate gunfire supported the initial landings the 15th and provided close fire support thereafter. With little aid the crew fought off night air attacks 17 through 19 June. Of 40 enemy planes that approached at dusk the 17th, only 15 got by the attacks of the Navy’s carrier interceptor planes; and Morrison shot down three of those.
On 2 August the destroyer rendezvoused off Guam with TG 58.4 for flight operations following the landings 21 July. Eight days later Morrison departed Guam for Eniwetok, Marshalls, where she remained from the 13th until she got underway 29 August for the Philippines, arriving off Mindanao the morning of 9 September. That same day, the beginning of a 2-day strike on Mindanao, a Japanese convoy of 50 sampans and freighters was sighted heading north. Morrison led the intercepting force which destroyed the 10 to 15 sampans that survived the strafing by planes. She pushed on for airstrike operations on Peleliu, Palau; the Carolines; and Luzon, Manila, and Samar Island, Philippines, through September.
On 2 October Morrison sailed with TG 83.3 for picket duty off Okinawa, during the airstrikes there and on other Islands in the Ryukyus 10 October. She continued on screen and plane guard operations off Formosa and northern Luzon during a 5-day attack beginning the 12th. On 16 October she screened Houston (CL-81) and Canberra (CA-70) as they retired to Ulithi.
During the Battle for Leyte Gulf, 23 to 26 October, Morrison operated off Luzon. On the 24th, she came to the aid of Princeton (CVL-23), badly hit by a Japanese bomb, and picked up approximately 400 survivors in an hour and a half. The destroyer then pulled alongside Princeton to assist in fighting fire; she had just reached her position when the small aircraft carrier, drifting and rolling, wedged Morrison’s mast and forward stack between her uptakes. Morrison managed to get clear and Birmingham (CL-62) took her place. Ten minutes later the after third of Princeton blew off. Not only, did Birmingham suffer topside damage and heavy casualties, but Princeton was then so badly damaged she had to be sunk by torpedoes.
Morrison debarked the Princeton survivors at Ulithi 27 October and got underway for the west coast, via Pearl Harbor, in company with Irwin (DD-794) and Birmingham, arriving San Francisco, Calif., 17 November. On 9 February the destroyer steamed back to the South Pacific, stopping at Pearl Harbor the 15th.
After shore bombardment exercises in the Hawaiian Islands, Morrison departed for Ulithi 3 March. By 21 March she had joined TF 54 underway for Okinawa out of Ulithi. The destroyer arrived off the southern shores of Okinawa the 25th, 7 days before the landings 1 April, and joined in the preparations of bombardment.
In the early morning of 31 March, after Stockton (DD-646) made a positive sound contact off Okinawa and expended her depth charges in the attack, Morrison arrived on the scene to see the submarine surface, then immediately submerge. She dropped a pattern of charges which seconds later forced the sub to the surface where it was sunk by gunfire. At daylight Morrison’s small boats rescued the lone survivor.
The ship continued shore bombardment, night illumination, and screen operations off Oshima Beach. The night of 11 April Morrison assisted Anthony (DD-515) in illuminating and sinking enemy landing craft heading north along the beach.
Three days later Morrison began radar picket duty. Her first two stations, southwest of Okinawa, were occasionally raided at night. She replaced Daly (DD-519) at the third station 28 April after the other destroyer was hit by a kamikaze.
On 30 April Morrison was shifted to the most critical station on the picket line. After 3 days of bad weather had prevented air raids, the dawn of 4 May was bright, clear, and ominous. At 0715 the combat air patrol was called on to stop a force of about 25 planes headed toward Morrison, but some got through.
The first attack on Morrison, a main target as fighter-director ship, was a suicide run by a “Zeke.” The plane broke through heavy flack to drop a bomb which splashed off the starboard beam and exploded harmlessly. Next a “Val” and another “Zeke” followed with unsuccessful suicide runs. About 0825 a “Zeke” approached through intense antiaircraft fire to crash into a stack and the bridge. The blow inflicted heavy casualties and knocked out most of the electrical equipment. The next three planes, all old twin-float biplanes, maneuvered, despite heavy attack, to crash into the damaged ship. With the fourth hit, Morrison, heavily damaged, began to list sharply to starboard.
Few communication circuits remained intact enough to transmit the abandon ship order. Two explosions occurred almost simultaneously, the bow lifted into the air, and by 0840 Morrison had plunged beneath the surface. The ship sank so quickly that most men below decks were lost, a total of 152.
In July 1957 the sunken hull of Morrison was donated, along with those of some 26 other ships sunk in the Ryukyus area to the Government of the Ryukyu Islands for salvage.
Morrison received eight battle stars for World War II service.