Red was not a great scholar, attended many schools but his marks represented poor performance. Joining the labour market he also moved about and even managed to get some basic flying lessons. But an industrial accident saw him break his neck, and thoughts of flying for a living being shelved.
After his neck healed, and the world now in its 27th month of WWII, Red tried to sign up with the US military and fly planes. But all the services refused him, ruling that poor schooling and a broken neck rendered him a 4F candidate... unfit for services. So he came to Canada, applied and was accepted into the Royal Canadian Air Force in December 1941.
He would later say that no one asked him if he ever broke his neck before and he must have failed to mention it. hehe.
Red would take flight training in Saskatchewan and Ontario with thousands of others, many having also come up from the US. Neck problems behind him, he would soon be wearing Sgt's stripes and en-route to England in the Canadian Air Force uniform where he and others would be attached to the RAF and soon on B17 bombing runs with 3 different squadrons. He would fly at last a dozen combat missions with the RAF and having been promoted to Flight Officer, 8 months later he would be a 2nd Lt.
In March 1943 Red finally reached one of his goals. To be in US uniform. His current experiences were no doubt quite welcomed and that month he was enlisted with the US Army Air Force.
Less than 4 months later, his name would be recorded in the history books of US heroes forever!
While some sources have different dates, by a few days, it was on July 26th that about 1000 war planes made a daring flight over Germany in daylight. In part of a ruse, a few dozen where to veer off and head directly to Hanover and destroy rail yards and other targets. The raid was said to be the first daylight run so far into the enemy territory.
At the given time a few dozen planes veered off the remainder and went for their target. Soon they came under very heavy attack. Being in the front and center of the battle, Red's plane took numerous hits.
An enemy shell took out the windshield. A 30 Caliber cannon bullet scrapped inside the cockpit and crushed part of the pilot's scull. He was semi unconscious but used considerable strength to hold onto the controls as the plane was venturing of course. If such continued it would be on its own and a sitting duck for the enemy.
The breathing apparatus in rear was knocked out and most of the crew became unconscious. The communications systems were destroyed. And the overhead gunner had fallen into the cockpit, with his arm blown off and a terrible wound to his side.
Red had to deal with all of this by himself for the most part. His primary focus was on the crew safety and the fallen gunner. He managed to get him into a parachute and tossed from the plane knowing that the Germans respected the enemy air force and would treat the man. (They did and he lived.)
Meanwhile Red steered the plane with one hand and fought for the pilot's release of the controls... the pilot in a delirious condition even started punching Red not realizing that he was trying to keep it within the formation and also even continuing on the bomb run.
As the plane got lower some of the crew awakened and assisted Red, The mission carried on and all... including the plane made it back to British territory after at least two hours of flying under above conditions on the way there and another two returning to base. Sadly the pilot soon died.
There is a wonderful very short newsreel video of the era about John (RED) Carey Morgan, the hero of this story. It is at... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uXL2dnJykYI and I'd encourage you to have a look at it and share it with others.
Red was presented with a Medal of Honor for his July deed on 18 December 1945 at London by US Lt. General FC Eaker, commander, 8th Air Force.
He went on several other missions and confused a pilot to step aside as he bluffed his way on yet another mission in March of 1944. But this would be his last mission. He was shot down over Germany on 6 March 1944. Actually blown out of the cockpit while sitting on his parachute. Managing to grab it on the way out, he incredibly fastened it to his chest straps as he dived towards the earth. Papers of the day claimed his miraculous dive probably set records as it was between 20,000 and 25,000 foot drop with the chute only opening within 500 feet and seconds before thundering in to the earth below.
One must wonder who was more surprised that he lived. He or those who captured him within seconds and took him to his new home... Stalag 1 at Barth Germany were he would remain till war's end some 14 months later.
Red may well be the only America 4f rejected candidate that would go from a declined bid to serve, would rise in rank from Pte to Lt. Colonel, serve in three nation's Air Forces, fly some 26 combat missions, be a POW for about 14 months, earn both the DFC and MOH, serve also in Korea, serve in the office of the US Air Force Deputy Assistant Secretary and have three wives... but that's another story...
Today he lays at rest with over 365 other Medal of Honor recipients at the nation's famous Arlington cemetery. One stop you should not miss while in the DC area.