John C. Morgan : biography
John Cary "Red" Morgan (August 24, 1914–January 17, 1991) was a United States Army Air Forces pilot in World War II who received the Medal of Honor for his actions during a 1943 bombing run over Germany, which also inspired the character of 2nd Lieutenant Jesse Bishop in the novel and film Twelve O'Clock High.
Medal of Honor citation
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty, while participating on a bombing mission over enemy-occupied continental Europe, 28 (sic) July 1943. Prior to reaching the German coast on the way to the target, the B17 aircraft in which 2d Lt. (sic) Morgan was serving as co-pilot was attacked by a large force of enemy fighters, during which the oxygen system to the tail, waist, and radio gun positions was knocked out. A frontal attack placed a cannon shell through the windshield, totally shattering it, and the pilot's skull was split open by a .303 caliber shell, leaving him in a crazed condition. The pilot fell over the steering wheel, tightly clamping his arms around it. 2d Lt. Morgan at once grasped the controls from his side and, by sheer strength, pulled the aircraft back into formation despite the frantic struggles of the semiconscious pilot. The interphone had been destroyed, rendering it impossible to call for help. At this time the top turret gunner fell to the floor and down through the hatch with his arm shot off at the shoulder and a gaping wound in his side. The waist, tail, and radio gunners had lost consciousness from lack of oxygen and, hearing no fire from their guns, the copilot believed they had bailed out. The wounded pilot still offered desperate resistance in his crazed attempts to fly the aircraft. There remained the prospect of flying to and over the target and back to a friendly base wholly unassisted. In the face of this desperate situation, 2d Lt. Officer Morgan made his decision to continue the flight and protect any members of the crew who might still be in the ship and for 2 hours he flew in formation with one hand at the controls and the other holding off the struggling pilot before the navigator entered the steering compartment and relieved the situation. The miraculous and heroic performance of 2d Lt. Morgan on this occasion resulted in the successful completion of a vital bombing mission and the safe return of his aircraft and crew.
Born August 24, 1914, at Vernon, Texas, and the son of an attorney, Morgan graduated from a military school in 1931 and then attended several colleges, including Amarillo College, New Mexico Military Institute, NMMI, West Texas State Teachers College, and the University of Texas at Austin. While at Texas he learned to fly aircraft, and in 1934 dropped out of college. He worked in the Fiji Islands as a foreman on a pineapple plantation until 1938, when he returned to enlist as an aviation cadet in the U.S. Army Air Corps. However because of his poor education record, he was refused enlistment. Working at an oil-drilling site for Texaco, Morgan suffered a broken neck in an industrial accident, and as a result was later classified 4-F by the Selective Service System.
In August, 1941, Morgan joined the Royal Canadian Air Force, and after completion of flight training in Saskatchewan, Ontario, and RAF Church Lawford, England, was posted as a Sergeant Pilot with RAF Bomber Command. On March 23, 1943 he was transferred to the U.S.Army Air Force as a Flight Officer and assigned to the 92nd Bomb Group's 326th Bomb Squadron, RAF Alconbury, England.
Morgan, on his fifth mission, co-pilot of a crew flying the B-17F 42-29802 to a target in Hanover, Germany, on July 28, 1943, when he participated in the mission for which he was awarded the Medal of Honor (citation shown below in full), awarded December 18, 1943.
Medal of Honor action
Morgan's experience began as his group formation neared the German coast. The B-17, nicknamed Ruthie II, was attacked by a large number of FW 190 fighters and had part of its oxygen system to the gunners' positions in the rear of the aircraft knocked out. The first burst of fire also smashed the cockpit's windshield, damaged the interphone, and split open the skull of pilot Lt. Robert Campbell. The pilot's upper body slumped over his control wheel, causing it to start out of control. F/O Morgan seized the controls on his side and by sheer strength pulled the plane back into formation.
In countries which are located near sea coasts, sea food is an important part of national cuisine