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Thomas A Morgan
22nd Bombardment Group
33rd Bomb Squadron, Medium

Newspaper article from Arkansas Democrat, Little Rock, AR, April 1942

B-26 Marauder, #40-1468

Radioman, Sgt. Thomas A. Morgan (kneeling, center), Rison, AR
Pilot, Lt. Milton O. “Mo” Johnson (standing, second from left), York , NE
Gunner, Cpl Vernon D. Huddleston ( kneeling, right), Dayton, OH

Others pictured: Lt. Lawrence J. Werner, co-pilot; Lt. John F. Daley, Jr., Navigator (North Quincy, MA); Lt. Philip L. Jander, bombardier (Houston, TX); S/Sgt. William Smith, engineer (Marceline, MO)


Sgt. Thomas Arlington Morgan
Rison, Arkansas
1919 - 1942

Thomas Arlington Morgan was born on December 23, 1919, to his parents Charlie and Ethel Herrington Morgan in the rural community of Herbine in Cleveland County, Arkansas. He was the baby of the family; preceding him were siblings Martin (born in 1915) and J. B. (born in 1917). His father Charlie supported the family by farming and daily delivering a star mail route by horseback. The young family got along fine, but things were to get a lot tougher quickly when in 1920 Charlie contracted a particularly bad strain of pneumonia and died at the age of thirty. At only twenty-five, Ethel found herself with three small boys under five; Thomas being less than a year old. She soon moved the family into the largest town in the county, Rison, to look for job possibilities. She supported them for the first years by working for Mr. Callaway as a clerk at his local drugstore.

Martin enlisted in the Navy in 1934 and served his four years, coming out in 1938 to rejoin the workforce at home by buying a café downtown and looking at schools to attend. He also worked at the local business of Moore’s Wholesale driving a truck and making deliveries. J.B. quit school for a time and worked, then finished up his high school in 1938 and looked for further education. Thomas went to school, graduating from Rison High School in 1937 and attending A & M College in nearby Monticello, Arkansas for a time. He eventually decided his fortunes lay somewhere ‘in the wild blue yonder’ and enlisted in the US Army Air Corps on October 23, 1940.

Although we can’t be certain, we think his basic training occurred at Jefferson Barracks near St. Louis, Missouri. After that, he was located at Scott Field, Illinois (also near St. Louis) where he attended training for radio operators. He apparently then went to Langley Field in Langley, Virginia. In July of 1941, he sent his mother a photo of a B26 from a magazine telling her, “Most of my flying will be done in the new B-26 so I am sending you a clipping of one so you will know what I am flying in. We have 11 of them in our sqdn. But they are painted with the new camouflage paint of the air-corps.” At the time of Pearl Harbor in December of 1941, Thomas was still at Langley Field. He was immediately sent to the west coast (Muroc, California and March Field in Riverside, California) where the crews flew antisubmarine patrols along the coast. He wrote his mother Ethel often, telling her where he was and what he was doing -- as best he could -- sometimes resorting to clues and encouraging her to “read between the lines”.

Martin re-entered the US Navy in December of 1941 and was immediately sent to Little Creek, VA where he was trained and served as Chief of an Armed Naval Guard aboard civilian merchant ships who were delivering supplies and personnel all over the world. J.B. enlisted in the US Army in March of 1942 and eventually would be sent to North Africa, Sicily, and Italy where he was assigned to a military police battalion which processed German prisoners of war.

From the west coast, Thomas was sent to Hickam Field in Hawaii where he wrote back home, “Well, here I am, where it all started.” He also wrote of the ground crews being sent ahead, and of the planes being crated and put on ships in San Francisco to make the trip to Hawaii. After being there for awhile, he and the rest of his group were sent to Australia to Garbutt Field near Townsville. In June of 1942, he wrote his mother from what he called “camp”. He told her that he liked the country and people of Australia, saying “they have been treating all the Americans swell.” From what I have learned and can put together from the known history and his letters, Thomas was a part of the original Marauder group who took part in the first bombings from Australia on Rabaul and New Guinea, although we don’t know exactly in which missions he was involved. Ethel received several telegrams during the months of May and June 1942 from Thomas telling her he was “safe and sound, seeing plenty of action”.

Ethel did her part for the war effort (above and beyond the fact of sending all her children to serve) – she applied and was accepted to attend training at the Pine Bluff Arsenal in nearby Pine Bluff, Arkansas, which was just being built. She wrote Thomas that she was “going to school to make bombs”. She was just about to finish the training in July of 1942 when she received the dreaded telegram telling her that Thomas’ plane had been lost on a bombing mission to Lae, New Guinea, on July 4, 1942.

Thomas’ family has never truly understood just what happened on that morning in July of 1942. Ethel received letters from his friends and officers with various versions of the story, but never any concrete information. To the best of our knowledge, he and his seven crewmates perished on that 4th of July in 1942. Ethel was notified at the close of the war in 1945 that his status was being changed from “Missing” to “Killed in Action”. Despite that, she never gave up hope, believing until her death in 1984 that he was still out there somewhere. (She did go to work at the Pine Bluff Arsenal in early 1943, carpooling daily with others from Rison, making munitions for the war. Both of her other boys returned home following the war. Martin went on to be the Cleveland County Sheriff for a time and then started his own successful business. J.B. was the Rison Chief of Police and then the Arkansas State Revenue Collector in Cleveland County for many years. Sadly, as it turned out, Ethel outlived all her sons – Martin passed away in 1966 and J.B. in 1976.)

Recently, the genealogy society in the county where the family lived began the project of honoring all their World War II veterans by interviewing those living and requesting information from families on those who were deceased. It seemed a perfect time to do a little research to see what I might find about the uncle who I was never able to know. Since there was no living person in the family who actually knew him well, I turned to the internet. I was pretty astonished to find not only credible information about the crash, but also a photo that none of the family had ever seen of Thomas and the crew.

Thanks to that find and contacting this B26 website and conversing with Trevor Allen, we now know that this is the story of Marauder #40-1468 …

On July 4th 1942 eight B26's were scheduled to attack the airfield at Lae in the early afternoon. The plan was for Lt Krell to lead the first formation of four aircraft, which included Greer, Stanwood and Hayes of HQ squadron while Lt Kahle followed with the second flight consisting of Lts Johnson, Nicholson and Nichols from the 33rd squadron.

Krell arrived over the target at about 7,000' with Kahle's formation following some distance behind. Dropping their bombs, Krell's formation held their altitude, flew easterly then made a wide right turn back towards the shore in the hopes of providing cover for Kahle, whose flight was about four minutes behind. However, Krell's bombs had alerted the fighters on the ground, and they were climbing to gain altitude just as Kahle's formation passed over the target at 5,000'.

Everyone felt more secure with the added guns, speed and tightened formation. The Zeros lined up on the right and a little higher in order to get into position for their attack. One attacker Flyer 1st Class Mitsuo Suizu, seemed unusually persistent. Suddenly he headed straight into the formation from the one o'clock position and forced the B26's to descend. Krell turned slightly to face the oncoming Zero. As it passed over his left side at a closing rate of 500 miles per hour, the left waist gunner, Sgt Norton, sprayed the cockpit with machine gun fire, possibly injuring or killing the pilot.

The Zero shot through the formation so fast that the other planes barely had any chance to react. In a split-second Nichols the left wingman of Kahle's flight, lifted his wing just enough for the Zero to slide under him. Johnson, in number four position, had nowhere to go. The Zero dived straight into Johnson's fuselage. For a second the Zero's propeller engaged that of the bomber, then it seemed that the fighter hit the fuselage and rebounded off to slice of the bombers vertical tail with its wing. The Zero drew away, and for a while the battered fuselage flew straight and level as if nothing had happened. The tail-less bomber continued its forward momentum for a few moments, wobbled, then went into a fatal spin until it plunged straight into the sea a minute or so later. Splashes from other pieces of both planes dotted the surface of the sea. The stunned airmen watched breathlessly for parachutes, but there were none.

Excerpted from: “Revenge of the Red Raiders – The Illustrated History of the
22nd Bombardment Group During World War II”(Eagles over the Pacific, Volume 2)
Authored by: Walter Gaylor, Don Evans, Harry Nelson and Lawrence J. Hickey

Oddly enough, one of the co-authors of the above book was a 1st Lt. who wrote to my grandmother Ethel following Thomas’ death, Walter Gaylor. I had hoped to contact him to thank him for his generous and kind words which gave her much comfort. Sadly, I have just learned of his passing a few years ago. Another person who was a good friend to Thomas was Hubert Newell from Dayton, Tennessee. I had also hoped to reach him, but have recently discovered he has passed away as well. I do hope that if any of the family members of Thomas’ crewmates find their way here, I would be very interested in making contact. (They were: Lt. Milton L. Johnson, pilot; Lt. Lawrence I. Werner, co-pilot; Lt. John F. Daley, Jr., navigator; Lt. Philip L. Jander, Bombardier; S/Sgt. William C. Smith, engineer; and Cpl. Vernon D. Huddleston, gunner.)

Time is short, I think, but I do hope that there is someone out there who remembers Tommy Morgan -- for I’d surely like to meet them.

A marker in Thomas’ honor stands beside his parents’ graves in a rural cemetery in Cleveland County not far from where he was born. Another memorial honors him far away in the American Cemetery at Fort William McKinley in Manila, The Philippines. Following the war, the people of Cleveland County, Arkansas erected a War Memorial in the Courthouse Square and dedicated it on Memorial Day, 1946. The memorial was sponsored by the local American Legion Post who changed their official name to bestow honors on two of their war heroes that year. It was, and still is, named the American Legion, Hall-Morgan Post 83, in honor of a Mr. Hall, a veteran who gave his all in France during World War I, and our family’s very own hero, Sgt. Thomas A. Morgan.

I know from his letters that he was located at these places: Scott Field IL, Langley VA, March Field CA, Muroc CA, Hickam Field - Hawaii, Australia

Rebecca Morgan Cheney,
Niece of Thomas Morgan

The Ramp

Thomas Morgan

E.N. Morgan (no relation)

My grandmother wrote on the back: "This is Tom in the plane at his job."

Thomas is second back on the left

Thomas, left, and DC Morris



Thomas standing in front of a building with the name "33rd Bomb Squad"
date printed on back of photo is Nov 27, 1941 - LaCrosse, Wisc.

Thomas is on left

Don Sutter

DC Morris

Program from Memorial Day dedication ceremony for War Memorial Monument, Rison Courthouse Square, Rison, AR

* Note that the local American Legion Post 83 is named for my uncle - (Hall was a vet from WWI - I don't know if Mr. Hall and Tommy were the first listed as missing or the first listed as killed in action)

My grandmother was notified by the War Department on 14 July 1942 that he was missing since 6 July. (I understand it was actually 4 July that it happened.) She received other correspondence - one dated June 1944 saying basically the same thing. Then she received notice 12 December 1945 of that as his presumptive date of death. I have one letter from C.G. Marshall, Chief of Staff (War Dept)

Thomas sent this to his mom in July 1941 so she'd know what kind of plane he was flying in.


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