Morgan, Robert Knight
Robert Morgan, born 31-07-1918 in Sheville, North Carolina, attended the Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania and entered the Army Air Corps in 1940. He won his pilot wings and was commissioned a second lieutenant 12-12-1941, then after advanced training at Walla Walla, Washington, was assigned to the 91st Bomb Group, 324th Bomb Squadron as a B-17 Flying Fortress pilot. Morgan went overseas as part of the original group of combat crews and flew 25 combat missions over Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, and France, between 07-11-1942, and 17-05-1943. The Memphis Belle was one of the first heavy bombers in the Eighth Air Force to complete 25 combat missions and was the first to return to the United States as part of a publicity campaign to sell war bonds. In those missions, all of which were daylight raids, the Memphis Belle flew 148 hours, dropped over 60 tons of bombs, and had every major part of the plane replaced at least once. Morgan and his crew were the subjects of a 1944 film documentary, Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress. Promoted to major, Morgan flew a second combat tour in the Pacific Theater, commanding the 869th Bomb Squadron, 497th Bomb Group of the Twentieth Air Forc. Flying B-29s from Isley Field, Saipan, he completed 26 missions over Japan until sent home on 24-04-1945. On 24-11-1944, he led the first mission of the XXI Bomber Command to bomb Japan, 110 aircraft of the 73rd Bomb Wing to Tokyo, with wing commander Brigade Geneneral Emmett O'Donnell, Jr. as co-pilot. His B-29 was nicknamed Dauntless Dotty , after his third wife, Dorothy Johnson Morgan. Among his military awards were the Distinguished Flying Cross with two oak leaf clusters, and the Air Medal with ten oak leaf clusters. He retired from the Air Force Reserve in 1965. Morgan was hospitalized 22-04-2004 with a fractured vertebra in his neck after falling outside the Asheville Regional Airport while returning home from what would be his last air show appearance at the Sun 'n' Fun air show in Lakeland, Florida. He died at Mission Hospital on 15-05-2004 from complications to his injuries, including pneumonia. Morgan is buried on the cemetery Black Mountain, Western North, Carolina Veterans, North Carolina.