Robert Morgan: Introduction (01:35)
Morgan grew up in Asheville, NC, spending time on the Vanderbilt estate. He volunteered for the Army Air Corps in 1940 and was part of the first bomber crew to survive 25 missions.
Morgan's Youth (03:50)
Morgan was born in 1919 in Asheville, North Carolina. After the stock market crash in 1929, his family moved onto the Vanderbilt estate; his mother was diagnosed with cancer and she committed suicide. Morgan enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1940 and learned to fly in a PT-17 Stearman biplane and completed advanced training in bomber at Barksdale Field.
Morgan's Early Flying Career (01:53)
Morgan married, reported for duty at MacDill Field, flew submarine patrol, became acquainted with the B-17 Flying Fortress, divorced, and reported to Walla Walla for final training. He met Margaret Polk before traveling to Maine and proposed before going to war.
Combat Missions (03:32)
Early in WWII, America and England disagreed about bombing strategies. The 91st Bomber Group flew practice missions out of East Anglia before raiding submarine pens. During a three-tiered flying mission, Morgan's plane suffered wing damage but the tail gunner shot down a German fighter.
Combat and Morale (03:58)
The crew of the Memphis Belle felt privileged; by 1942, only seven B-17s of the 91st Bomber Group remained. Curtis LeMay advocated for straight and level daylight attacks. Morale among the flyers dropped and Gen. Eakers announced that bomber crews who completed 25 combat missions could go home.
Crew of the Memphis Belle (02:18)
Film Director William Wyler flew five missions with the Memphis Belle. The crew counted down missions to 25; the Belle sometimes took heavy damage. Morgan and his crew became popular with the American people.
Memphis Belle's 25th Mission (02:46)
Morgan's 24th mission was confusing. His 25th mission was to submarine pens in Lorient, France and Wyler was there to film the event. Morgan recalls the crew's tradition before each mission, touring the U.S. after the 25th mission, and difficulty accepting a hero status.
Morgan's Later Career (02:41)
Morgan and Polk agreed to wait to marry until after the tour and their relationship suffered. Morgan encountered the B-29 bomber and trained to go to the Pacific; his relationship with Polk ended. Morgan married Dorothy Johnson and flew 26 missions in the Pacific; he returned to the U.S. in April 1945.
Credits: Legends of Air Power: Robert Morgan (00:13)
Credits: Legends of Air Power: Robert Morgan
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