First LT John Joseph Morel
389th Bomb Group, 566th Bomb Squadron
Army Air Corps

Born on 13 April 1920, John Joseph Morel lived at 604 South Cherry Street, in Hammond, Louisiana.
His sports interests included football, basketball, and swimming.

In 1995 I ordered John's service record from the National Archives in Washington DC.
Then a relative gave me John's paperwork and files.
There are literally dozens of letters written by John and his friends. This is what I have learned of our brave uncle.

He joined the Army Air Corps on 27 March 1942. He was in pilot training.

3 Jun 1943: He advanced to 2nd LT and reported to Hondo Army Air Field, TX
HQ 18th Replacement Wing; completed training

On 4 May he advanced to 1st LT and on 20 May 1943 John was designated as a Navigator.

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.

(Photo of John Morel, on the right, with his good friend Eugene Arla Knieper, who was in the Navy)
Picture taken in Hammond, LA, in the 1940's.
John's friend, Gene Knieper, was an EN2 (Engineman Second Class) who was stationed at
66 U.S. Naval Construction Battalion in Camp Parks, California.

From 23-30 Jun 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 7 October 1943 to 8 July 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.

Crew photo, left to right. Click on photo to enlarge.

Note: All comments and names were written on the same photo, on the back, by Daniel Duran. Sent to me by his relative.

Back Row: 2nd Lt. Arnold E. Hackbarth - Co-Pilot - South Dakota - (Swell guy)
2nd Lt. William H. Wambold - Pilot - California (He's the "Skipper") - meaning Commanding Officer of the unit.
2nd Lt. John J. Morel - Navigator - Louisiana (Knows his onions)
2nd Lt. Frank J. Farrell - Bombadier - New York (He lays the eggs)
Front Row: Staff Sergeant Lawrence W. Huber - (side gunner) Assistant Engineer - Missouri - (Stubborn!)
Staff Sergeant Herald W. Hite - Armorer Gunner (side gunner) - Ohio (Pop)
Technical Sergeant Daniel S. Duran - Engineer (Top Turret Gunner) - Texas
Technical Sergeant Paul E. Trissel - Radio Operator - Ohio - (dit, dit, dit dat!)
Staff Sergeant James L. Fowler - Lower Gunner - Tennessee (Dead-Eye Jim... I hope)
Staff Sergeant Charles Puchalski - Tail Gunner - Pennsylvania

Click Here to see a better resolution of this photo.

Notes by Dan Duran. Kindly submitted by his grandson, John D. Duran:

"The bombs in front of us are 100 lbs (each) practice bombs.
They are nothing compared to the real McCoy. You can see two 50 cal. machine guns attached to the nose.
If you look close you can see a third through the plexi-glass on the right side.
They are manned by the bombardier and navigator.

Right below is the peep sight for the famous Norton bombsight. It is said to be very accurate - and we've found out.
The rest are accessories, but we have an important use for each and every one.
I won't explain them. Miliary secret!

On the top (the dome) is the top turret.
You can see the left hand gun and the optical sight inside the dome - manned by me. A lovely spot, eh what?

The bomb-bay doors are open (behind the co-pilot). Our bombs will be dropping thru here, right on Hirohito's and Hitler's back yard,
with our best regards - like Hell, too.
It won't be long now. The tail guns manned by the one and only Charlie,
the Scranton (cannot read?)"

Dated: 26 Aug 1943; Listed as Crew 302-5-19


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 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. Diamond Lil and Witchcraft.

Eighth Air Force 389 Bomb Group (H)
566th Bomb Squadron, Hethel, Norfolk, England
April 1944

<-----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, World War 11 Victory Medal , Good Conduct and Sharpshooter (pistol) medals.

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

Then from 15 July 1944 to 8 September 1944 he was sent to the 422nd AAF BU in Tonopah, Nevada.
He was relieved from active duty on 3 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.

But for whatever reason, John re-enlisted in the Army. Perhaps because in a year he only made around $900 working for my grandfather.
Plus, I am sure the job of accountant was boring compared to what he had been doing.

He joined the service again in 3 September 1948 and was recalled to active duty in October 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.

But he did not do very well in the school. He went to a board and it was recommended he discontinue training.

He then transferred to 2225 AF ORD, Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, on 18 Apr 1949 and
then on to Alaska on 12 May 1949 where he would join the 331st Air Repair Squadron, at Fort Richardson, Alaska.

From 14 May 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 43-38713A; a C-47D. The crew that day included the following:

CAPT Brian K. Moyers, USAF
Gravesite for Brian Moyers
28 years old; Born in Missouri

CAPT Edwin R. Stevenson, USAF
32 years old; Philadelphia, PA
More on CAPT Stevenson
Gravesite - Edwin Stevenson

1st LT Roy Edward Bailey, USAF

29 years old; Evansville, IN
Gravesite - Roy Bailey

1st LT John J. Morel, USAF

29 years old; Hammond, LA
John Joseph Morel

SSGT Raymond W. Conklin, USAF
27 years old; Clarion, Iowa

MSGT Robert G. Dunphy, USAF
32 years old; Orlando, Florida

CPL George Homer Marquis, USAF
19 years old; Elgin, Illinois

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.

Click here to see the newspaper article on the Alaskian crash.

Click here to see the initial accident report

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 September 25th, 1949, twenty-three days later.
Dragging and grappling failed to recover the aircraft or any bodies.
A newspaper article noted that the plane sank in shallow water but settled in deep mud, making recovery difficult.

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 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.

From his service record: 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.

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.

Email of Inquiry: Please Read

I received this email from Martijn van Haren who lives in Holland. The email reads:

" 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

Thank you.

Please email me if you have any information on my Uncle. It would be deeply appreciated. My email address is:
AZC(AW/NAC) Kimberly King

United States Navy - Retired
Commander, VFW Post 10904, Manchester, TN

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Related Links

John Morel Ancestry Page

389th Bomb Group

389th, The Sky Scorpions

389th, The Army Air Forces

Lucky Bastards Club Certificate - Dan Duran; Sent by John Duran, his grandson

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