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John Joseph Morel


Born on 13 April 1920, John J. Morel lived at 604 South Cherry Street, in Hammond, Louisiana. His service record lists him as single, at 5 ', 11 1/2 " tall and weighing 170 lbs at his first enlistment. At the end of his tour he weighed 160 pounds. John had brown hair and brown eyes. His blood type was A. His sports interests included football, basketball, and swimming.

In 1995 I ordered John's service record from the National Archives in Washington DC. This is what I have learned of our brave uncle.

He joined at around 25 February 1942. Became a cadet on 27 Mar 1942. He was in pilot training. On 20 May 1943 John was designated as a Navigator onboard a B-24 "Liberator".

Then on 3 June 1943 he was assigned as a navigator with the 357th Bomb Squadron in Clovis, New Mexico. He remained there for just 20 days.

From 23 to 30 Jun 1943 he was attached to the 806th Bomb Squadron, 302nd Bomb Group in Pueblo, Colorado.

From 1 July to 7 October 1943 he was stationed with Freeman Providence Group in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Then from 7 October 1943 to 8 July 1944 he was assigned to the 389th Bomb Group, 566 Bomb Squadron in England. The 566th was based in Hethel England near Norwich.

The small village of Hethel has all but disappeared, but the main attractions are the 700-year-old hawthorn tree by the odd church, with a memorial of pompous dimensions to Myles Branthwaite, a lord of the manor in Shakespeare's days. Today the village is just a couple of houses and cottages scattered between Mulbarton and Wymondham, and on some maps it has vanished completely. Look for Wreningham, about 1 mile southeast of Wymondham, that's where it is. On the former US airbase (Station 114, 389th Bombardment Group) the Lotus Motor Car Company use the old runways for vehicle testing. The memorial is in the churchyard of All Saints church. Nearby Roman coins were found, and the most recent "invaders" left their air raid shelters standing.

While there John flew in a bomber and his combat data shows he flew in 30 combat missions, and had over 200 combat hours flying. At one point in the war a service member was finished after he flew 25 missions.

General Dolittle took over the 8th Air Force and changed the requirement to 30, thus John had to fly 30 missions before his time in combat was completed. There had been 10 crews assigned to the 8th, and 5 had been shot down. He flew in the invasion of Normandy.

John received many prestigious medals. He earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, and the Air Medal with 3 oak leaf clusters, which were presented to him in September of 1944. It is unknown what John did to earn these medals, but there is a story that he shared his oxygen with a fellow crewman, while in flight, thus saving his life. Both of these awards are given only for heroic, brave duty while flying.

He earned the European African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with 2 bronze stars, American Campaign Medal, and the World War 11 Victory Medal in December 1946.

John had earned 10 foreign service credits as of 16 July 1944. From 8 to 15 July 8 to 1944, John was awaiting orders to return to the United States.

Then from 15 July to 8 September 1944 he was sent to the 422nd AAF BU in Tonopah, Nevada. He was relieved from active duty on 11 September 1945, and returned to Hammond.

John was a student and went to Southeastern College from 1945 to 1947 studying chemical engineering and accounting. He worked for my grandfather, Cleveland A. Larose from January 1947 to October 1948 as an accountant. He kept 30 sets of books and also sold general insurance.

He joined the service again on 3 Sept 1948, and began Atomic Energy Training, a 15- week course that was to be completed in 1949. He entered his training syllabus on 25 October 1948 through 10 March 1949 as a recalled student with the 3380th Technical Training Wing with Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi. He accumulated 25 flight hours between October 1948 and March 1949.

He then transferred to 2225 AF ORD, Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, then on to Alaska where he would join the 331st Air Repair Squadron, at Fort Richardson, Alaska on 12 May 1949.

From 14 May 14th to 30 June 1949, John accumulated 16.47 flight hours onboard the C-47B aircraft. From 1 July to 2 September 1949 he accumulated another 16.47 hours.

Then on 2 September 1949 John took his last flight. He was scheduled to fly aircraft Buno number 43-48713A; a C-47D. The crew that day included the following:

CAPT Brian K. Moyers, USAF
CAPT Edwin R. Stevenson, USAF
1st LT Roy E. Bailey, USAF
1st LT John J. Morel, USAF
SSGT Raymond W. Conklin, USAF
MSGT Robert G. Dunphy, USAF
CPL George H. Marquis, USAF

It was 9:13 a.m. and the aircraft took off on a routine instrument training flight from Elmendorf Air Force Base. There was no indication of any aircraft problems. Eyewitnesses stated the aircraft appeared to make a lazy "I" at approximately 4,000 to 5,000 feet.

Then at approximately 9:47 a.m. the aircraft descended into a steep spiral, and crashed and sank in the waters of Cook Inlet, Alaska. Eyewitnesses said they did not see any parachutes emerge from the aircraft until just prior to the crash when one witness saw 2 objects, which appeared to be bodies, leave the plane. The witness did not see the bodies strike the water due to the spray from the crash, which obstructed the view.

An immediate and constant aerial vigilance was maintained over the vicinity of the crash until 2 aircraft with floats was able to land and initiate a surface search by taxing back and forth over the spot. The 2 aircraft were relieved by a crash boat, which continued to search for survivors. Search efforts were terminated on 25 September 1949, 23 days later. Dragging and grappling failed to recover the aircraft or any bodies.

A letter dated 2 December 1949 was delivered to Mrs. Marcelle Ferchaud Morel at 604 South Cherry Street in Hammond. The letter was from D. C. Strother, Major General, USAF, Director of Military Personnel. In the letter the Major gives the details of the accident and it said that the Air Force regretted that the message carried so much sorrow to her home. John was only 29 years old.

My Uncle Orville Baier told me that John's good friend Gene Knieper, who had joined the Navy, went to their house when he heard what had happened to John. When he got there he found the house full of smiles and laughter, and he realized that they had not yet heard the news. Gene left and never told them what he knew.

I had heard tales that for years my Great Grandmother, Marcelle Ferchaud, would go out on the front porch and look down the street. She maintained the hope that someday her son would return home. She waited and hoped until her death from cancer in 1962.

It is with the greatest respect that I write what I have learned about my Great Uncle John Morel. He is a family hero to us all. My uncle, Cleveland Larose, took John's name as his own when he joined the Christian Brothers. We fondly know him as Brother John.

At Greenlawn Cemetery in Hammond Louisiana there is a headstone devoted to Uncle John. From his many letters to his mother and siblings, I can tell he had a wonderful sense of humor and was extremelyhumble. Every person in our family was proud of him, and his memory will never die as long as we remember him.



  • David Garlick

    Military | Corporal | Aerial Gunner | 490th Bomb Group
    Member of Moy crew

Units served with

  • 389th Bomb Group

    389th Bomb Group

    The 389th Bomb Group, known in more familiar terms as "the Sky Scorpions", flew strategic bombing missions in B-24 Liberators from Hethel, England. They also sent detachments to join bases in North Africa at Benghazi No. 10, Libya, between 3 July 1943...

  • 566th Bomb Squadron

    566th Bomb Squadron

    Constituted 566th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) on 19 Dec. 1942. Activated on 24 Dec. 1942. Inactivated on 13 Sept. 1945. Campaigns: Air Offensive, Europe; Sicily; Naples-Foggia; Normandy; Northern France; Rhineland; Ardennes-Alsace; Central Europe; Air...


  • 41-23717 Exterminator

    B-24 Liberator
    The B-24 Liberator "Exterminator" (serial number 41-23717, H) originally flew with the 329th Bomb Squadron of the 93rd Bomb Group and was later transferred to the 330th Bomb Squadron (93BG) in March 1943. The first mission with the 330th BS was on 1st...


  • 8th Air Force 174

    4 January 1944
    The port area of Kiel, Germany and the railroad marshalling yards at Munster, Germany are the Primary targets of this Mission which is organised as two elements: one going to Kiel and the other to Munster. Roger A. Freeman begins to designate aircraft...

  • 8th Air Force 178

    7 January 1944
    The industrial areas of Ludwigshaven, Germany are the primary target for this mission. The formation has three elements. The bomber gunners of the entire force claim 30-6-17 of attacking German aircraft. ...

  • 8th Air Force 198

    29 January 1944
    The primary target for this mission was the railroad marshalling yards and industrial areas of Frankfurt, Germany. A combined force of 863 heavy bombers were despatched in three elements to make the attack. The combined bomber gunner claims on enemy...

  • 8th Air Force 205

    2 February 1944
    V-Weapon sites in the St. Pol/Siracourt/Watten area of France are the primary targets for this mission. 110 B-24s are despacthed from 2nd Air Division: 44BG; 93BG; 389BG; 392BG; and 445BG. The lead group of the force despatched to attack near Watten...

  • 8th Air Force 218

    11 February 1944
    This mission is composed of two separate elements. 3rd Bomb Division stands down having sustained massive losses of 29 aircraft on the previous day. ...

  • 8th Air Force 220

    12 February 1944
    A combined force of 99 B-24s from 2nd Bomb Division: 44BG; 93BG; 389BG; and 392BG are despatched to bomb the V-Weapon site at Siracourt, France. 97 aircraft are effective on targets. 29 aircraft are damaged by AA fire. There are no aircraft or...

  • 8th Air Force 277

    24 March 1944
    This mission is composed of two elements, one from 1st Air Division and the other from 2nd Air Division. A total of 436 hevay bombers are despatched. The primary target for 1st Air Division is the the ball bearing plants at Schweifurt, Germany. 2nd Air...

  • 8th Air Force 295

    10 April 1944

  • 8th Air Force

    30 April 1944


Date Contributor Update
12 June 2019 00:34:14 flygal46 Changes to mission associations

family files

Date Contributor Update
12 June 2019 00:13:27 flygal46 Changes to mission associations

family history files

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12 June 2019 00:10:08 flygal46 Changes to mission associations

Family history notes

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07 June 2019 01:58:37 flygal46 Changes to aircraft associations

Family history letters

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07 June 2019 01:57:44 flygal46 Changes to biography

Written by Kim King; family historian

Date Contributor Update
07 June 2019 01:53:56 flygal46 Changes to unit associations

Family history documents; Kim King

Date Contributor Update
07 June 2019 01:52:56 flygal46 Changes to service number, highest rank and role

Family history documents

Date Contributor Update
07 June 2019 01:49:59 flygal46 Changes to awards

Family History files

Date Contributor Update
07 June 2019 01:21:31 flygal46 Created entry with surname, middlename, firstname and nationality

Family documents