332nd FG Pilots
Left to Right: Dempsey W. Morgan, Carroll S. Woods, Robert H. Nelson, Andrew D. Turner, Clarence P. Lester
"I WAS A FIGHTER PILOT", so said Dempsey W. Morgan, Jr. in a 19 Feb 2012 interview in the Roanoke Times. Morgan, a member of Brokaw's "Greatest Generation", was born on March 1, 1920 the son of Dempsey Matthew(1892-1946) and Pope Sims(nee Porter) Morgan(1890-1926) in Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan. He was preceded in death by his parents and an older half-sister Gertrude Sims Hodge(1904-1990). He enrolled as a member of the 1942 Class of the U. S. Military Academy at West Point, New York and was one of 996 Army Air Force Pilots who graduated from the Flight School at Tuskegee, Alabama between 1939 and 1949. He was, with his graduation in 1943, in the 15th of 44 Classes of Pilots, that completed training at the School before the end of the War. He flew missions over the Mediterranean and Southern Europe, while based in Italy as a member of the 100th Fighter Squadron of the 332nd Fighter Group. The 332d was later rolled into the XV Air Force. The 332nd was immortalized in the 2012 Movie "Red Tails", a fictionalized account of their exploits in the air. His Squadron flew air cover missions over the beach at Anzio during Operation Shingle (which also included black ground soldiers) from 22-29 January 1944. They also escorted Bombers from North Africa on bombing missions throughout Southern Europe. An 4 October 1944 mission, highlighted in the book, "The Tuskegee Airmen: An Illustrated History" was the highlight of his service in Europe. He, as a 1st Lt., along with four other pilots (1st Lt. S. L. Curtis, & 1st Lt Willard Woods (also of the 100FS), Capt. Claude B. Govan (301FS) and 1st Lt. Herman A Lawson (99FS)) made their way to a German Airbase in Greece where they destroyed nine planes while they were still on the ground. For this Mission all five were awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. They joined 91 other Tuskegee Airmen to have won the DFC approximately 10% of the total number of members of the 332nd Fighter Group. In that interview in the Roanoke Times, he stated, "We got to the base and destroyed everything." He self-published an autobiography in which a Certificate of Valor lists a Bronze Star and an Air Medal(w4 Oak Leaf Clusters), included but not limited to, as other Decorations he received.
After the War, he was licensed to fly commercially, but was unable to because of the racial discrimination that was prevalent at the time. He accepted the Baha'i Faith after the War and became a teacher and international missionary in Asia, Africa and Central America for his Faith for approximately 40 years. He, and his second wife Adrienne, lived abroad until approximately 1997 when they retired to Bristol, Va. He was awarded a Doctorate in Public Service by Tuskegee Institute in 2006. In 2007 President George W. Bush awarded the Congressional Gold Medal to him and the rest of the surviving members of the Tuskegee Airmen. Health issues forced his relocation, in 2011, to the Virginia Veterans Care Center in Roanoke.
After the Feb. 19th article, he received a number of invitations to schools and Memorial Day services where he was honored for his Military Service. The Roanoke Chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference also awarded him their "Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Drum Major for Justice" Award. This award recognizes "significant accomplishments and contributions to justice."
Units served with
"The Bloody Hundredth", so-called because of a reputation for losing a high number aircraft and crews, flew B-17s from Thorpe Abbotts, Norfolk. Their losses were not the highest of any Eighth Air Force Group but on several occasions the Group lost many...
Established in February 1942 at Tuskegee Army Airfield, Alabama to train African-American flight cadets graduated from the Tuskegee Institute Army contract flying school. At Tuskegee, the squadron performed advanced combat flying training. As the...
||Detroit, MI, USA
||1 March 1920
||Roanoke, VA, USA
||11 April 2013
||Dublin, VA 24084, USA
||15 April 2013
Southwest Virginia Veterans Cemetery