Born on 13 April 1920, John Joseph 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.
Not much is known of the details of John's service. 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 February 25, 1942. He was in pilot training. On May 20, 1943 John was designated as a Navigator.
Then on June 3rd, 1943 he was assigned as a navigator with the 357th Bomb Squadron in Clovis, New Mexico. He remained there for just 20 days.
From Jun 23-30, 1943 he was attached to the 806th Bomb Squadron, 302nd Bomb Group in Pueblo, Colorado.
From July 1st to October 7th, 1943 he was stationed with Freeman Providence Group in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Then from October 7, 1943 to July 8, 1944 he was assigned to the 389th Bomb Group, 566 Bomb Squadron, the "Sky Scorpions" in England. The 566th was based in Hethel, England near Norwich.
The squadron flew B-24D/H/J/L and M series planes.
The squadron participated in the intensive air campaign against the German aircraft industry during Big Week, 20-25 Feb 1944. Also flew support and interdictory missions on several occasions, bombing gun batteries and airfields in support of the Normandy invasion in Jun 1944, striking enemy positions to aid the breakthrough at St Lo, Normandy, in Jul 1944.
Back Row: Co-Pilot: A.D. Hackbarth
Pilot: William H. Wambold
Navigator: 1st LT John J. Morel
Bombardier: F. J. Farell
Front Row: Assistant. Engineer: L. Hubert
Arm. Gunner: H.W. Hite
1st Engineer: D. Duran
Radio Operator: P.E. Trissel
Tail Gunner: C. Puchalski
Click Here to see a better resolution of this photo.
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 five had been shot down. He flew in the invasion of Normandy.
The B-24, nicknamed the "Liberator", by the British, each had a crew that consisted of a pilot, co-pilot, navigator, top-gunner, bombadier, waist gunner, lower ball gunner, tail gunner, engineer/nose gunner, and a radio operator.
The B-24 Liberator was produced in greater quantities and flown in more theaters of war by the air forces of more countries than any other bomber in World War II. Produced by Consolidated Vultee, Ford Motor Company, Douglas Aircraft and North American Aircraft, 19,256 planes, and several versions, which were built between the years of 1939 and 1945. Today there are only two B-24's in existence that are still flight capable.
<-----Picture of the tail of a B-24 in the 566th bomb group.
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 July 8 to 15th, 1944, John was awaiting orders to return to the United States.
Then from July 15, 1944 to September 8th, 1944 he was sent to the 422nd AAF BU in Tonopah, Nevada. He was relieved from active duty on September 11, 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 in October of 1948, and began Atomic Energy Training, a 15- week course that was to be completed in 1949. He entered his training syllabus on October 25, 1948 through March 10, 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.
From May 14th to June 30th, 1949 John accumulated 16.47 flight hours onboard the C-47B aircraft. From July 1st to September 2nd, 1949 he accumulated another 16.47 hours.
Then on September 2, 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.
A letter dated December 2nd, 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 recently told me that John's good friend Gene, 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. Every person in our family was proud of him, and his memory will never die as long as we remember him.
" My name is Martijn van Haren and I live in Holland. My hobby is everything about WWII. I have some WWII history in my family.
While is was reading about WWII, I felt I wanted to do something back for those brave soldiers who fought and died for my freedom.What I did is I adopted gavesites from US soldiers who died in WWII. It means I go to the graves and bring flowers and take care that these brave men will not be forgotten!
I adopted 5 gravesites here in Holland at the US cemetery Margraten. I adopted 10 gravesites in Belgium at the US cemetery Ardennes. One of the graves that I adopted is from Jack E. Smith, he was a Technical Sergeant from the 566th Bomber Squadron, 389th Bomber Group. Can you help me find information about him or ralatives from him?"
If you have any information that can aid Martijn, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Please email me if you have any information on my Uncle. It would be deeply appreciated. My email address is:
United States Navy, Retired
John Morel Ancestry Page
389th Bomb Group
389th, The Sky Scorpions
389th, The Army Air Forces
B-24, Best on the Web
U.S. Army Air Forces In WWII
Tribute page to Captain Edwin R. Stevenson, who flew with my Uncle in Alaska
USGenWeb Archives for Tangipahoa Parish, LA