An Airman's Story: Lieutenant Colonel John Carey Morgan

Lieutenant Colonel John Carey "Red" Morgan was born in Vernon, Texas, on August 24, 1917.

After graduating from a local military school in 1931, he briefly attended several colleges, including the University of Texas, before leaving school entirely and moving to Fiji.

Lieutenant Colonel John Morgan supervised a pineapple plantation until 1938, when he returned to Texas to work with Texaco at an oil drilling site. An industrial accident severely injured Lieutenant Colonel John Morgan, left him with a broken neck, rendered him unfit for military duty, and the US military refused his enlistment. Rather than give up, Lieutenant Colonel John Morgan decided, in August 1941, to enlist in Canada's Royal Air Force instead (he neglected to mention his medical history).

After training in Saskatchewan, he shipped off to England for World War II, where he quickly rose up the ranks, flying B-17 Bombers. Eventually, there was no question about his qualifications, and Lieutenant Colonel John Morgan was transferred to the US Army Air Forces as a flight officer on March 23, 1943.

Lieutenant John Carey Morgan would earn a Congressional Medal of Honor on July 28, 1943, as co-pilot on a bombing run to Hanover, when, after the formation was attacked and his plane heavily damaged, he would continue on with the mission. The pilot had received severe head wounds, and the turret gunner had had his arm amputated. With the navigator's help, he could get the gunner parachuted out of the plane. The crewmen in the rear were struggling with their oxygen, and the pilot, Lieutenant Robert Campbell, was struggling with his head injuries and was still attempting to "fly the plane."  Lieutenant John Morgan wrestled the controls away from the pilot (and would have to continue to fight Lieutenant Campbell off throughout the remainder of the mission), brought the plane low enough that the five rear gunners could breathe, and completed the task. Unfortunately, Lieutenant Robert Campbell's head injuries (which included skull fractures) would be fatal.

In October 1943, he would transfer to the 482nd Bomber Group. On March 6, 1944, while leading the first major US Air Force attack upon Berlin, his plane was shot down. Lieutenant Colonel John Morgan was captured and held as a prisoner of war in Stalag Luft 1 in Barth, Germany.

After the war, he returned to Texaco, although he would work in sales rather than return to the drilling platforms.

During the Korean War, Lieutenant Colonel John Morgan chose to reactivate, took a three-year leave of absence from Texaco, flew cargo planes for the Air Force between stateside posts, and served in the office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force.

Lieutenant Colonel John Cary Morgan died on January 17, 1991, and rests in Arlington Cemetery.


a.d. elliott is a wanderer, writer, and photographer currently living in Salem, Virginia. 

In addition to the travel writings at, you can also read her book reviews at and US military biographies at

Her online photography gallery can be found at


Like my page? Please consider supporting my work by visiting my sponsors, my webshop, or by buying me a cup of coffee!