Morris, flagship of DesRon 2, followed her shakedown with routine training schedules until the summer of 1941 when she joined the North Atlantic Patrol. With the entry of the United States into World War II, she entered the Charleston Navy Yard, where she was equipped with the first fire control radar to be installed on a destroyer. By 3 January 1942 she was underway for Pearl Harbor, rejoining her squadron there at the end of February.
Attached to TF 17, the destroyer sailed 16 March for Nouméa, and into her first major enemy engagement, the Battle of Coral Sea. Prior to the battle, she guarded the carriers of the task force as their planes struck at enemy shipping in Tulagi Harbor and in the Louisiade Archipelago. During the 4-day battle, 4 to 8 May, she splashed one enemy plane and damaged two while screening Yorktown and Lexington and, when the latter was heavily damaged, pulled alongside to rescue some 500 survivors. Damage received during the rescue forced her back to Pearl Harbor where hurried repairs put her back into condition for the Battle of Midway a month later. In that action she again pulled alongside a sinking carrier, Yorktown, to rescue over 500 survivors.
Morris’s next action came in late August when she joined TF 81 in support of the Guadalcanal campaign. For the next 2 months she screened carriers and patrolled among the Solomons. On 25 October, following a 3-day independent sweep through the Gilberts, she rejoined TF 17 and took part in the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands. During the action she destroyed six aircraft and once more came to the rescue of a sinking carrier, this time Hornet from which she took on 550 survivors. As in other rescue operations her superstructure was damaged, but, after repairs at Espiritu Santo, she was back in the Guadalcanal area, first operating with Enterprise and then as supply unit escort to the Russell Islands.
In May 1943 Morris departed the southern Pacific and sailed north to support the capture and occupation of Attu and Kiska, the Aleutian end of the Japanese ribbon defense. Thence, after the Kiska operation, she returned to San Francisco for a 7-week overhaul. In November she again joined an air support group escorting Liscome Bay, Coral Sea, and Corregidor in the Gilbert Islands offensive, during which, for a fourth time, she went to aid a sinking carrier, Liscome Bay. As the task forces pressed further into the central Pacific, Morris sailed with them into the Marshalls. On 30 January 1944 she led a column of warships in a shore bombardment mission against Wotje. Thence she steamed to Kwajelein Atoll, where, while providing close fire support off Namur, she wiped out a Japanese counterattack force from an adjacent island. In mid-February she departed Kwajelein and moved with TG 51.11 to support the seizure and occupation of Eniwetok Arriving on the 17th, she continued carrier operations through the 24th when she sailed for Pearl Harbor.
DD-417 returned to combat in April 1944, when as a unit of the Seventh Fleet she took part in all the western New Guinea landings, beginning with Hollandia. In May and June she give are support in the Toem-Wakde-Sarmi areas and then during the Biak Island operation. In July she went against enemy guns on Noemfoor Island and then at Cape Sansapor. In August she participated in operations against Halmahera and Morotai and then began preparations for the initial invasion of the Philippines.
On 16 October, with TG 8.G, she got underway for Leyte Gulf. Safely delivering her charges, transports with the first reinforcement groups aboard, on the 21st, she took up anti-aircraft station and, for several days, experienced meetings with the newest Japanese tactics, the kamikaze. Throughout the next month she continued to escort troops and supplies to Leyte. With the dawn of the new year, 1945, she was enroute north for the Luzon operations. Arriving within the week she participated in preinvasion bombardment and then provided fire support during the landings on the 9th. For 18 days she patrolled, bombarded and fought off kamikazes.
Detached from the Seventh Fleet after Luzon, Morris rejoined the 5th Fleet and prepared for Okinawa. On 1 April she arrived off Kerama Retto with TG 51.11. For the next 5 days she escorted transports and oilers and cruised in various assigned sectors on antiaircraft and antisubmarine patrols. On the 6th, while patrolling station A-11, A “Kate,” carrying either a heavy bomb or torpedo, closed in on her. Morris guns scored hits and set the plane afire, but could not stop it. Shortly after 1815 it crashed into the ship on the portside, between the No. 1 and No. 2 guns. Fires caused by the explosions spread quickly. Two hours were needed to bring them under control with another 30 minutes to extinguish them. Morris then returned to Kerama Retto where temporary repairs somewhat corrected her demolished bow and subsequent draft of 18 feet 3 inches, her large protrusion of plating on the starboard side and her damaged steering On 22 May she started out across the Pacific and on 18 June entered the Hunters Point Drydock, San Francisco. Declared neither seaworthy nor habitable, she was decommissioned 9 November, struck from the Naval Register 28 November; stripped and sold to Franklin Shipwrecking 2 August 1947 and then resold to the National Metal & Steel Corp., Terminal Island, Calif, 17 July 1949.
Morris received 15 battle stars for her action in World War II.