A Purple Heart medal awarded posthumously to an Army Air Corps second lieutenant who was killed nearly 70 years ago during a bombing mission over Berlin has a new home.
On 09 Jan 2014, Army Capt. Zachariah Fike presented 2nd Lt. Glenn Morris’ Purple Heart to the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, the best home he could find for the medal awarded after Morris, a B-24 bombardier-navigator, died in a plane crash March 22, 1944.
The Mighty Eighth’s Vivian Rogers, the director of the museum’s research center, accepted Morris’ Purple Heart.
“We’re honored to have this Purple Heart dedicated to us today,” Rogers said. “This museum was established by men … who served in the Mighty 8th Air Force in World War II and was meant to be a place to make certain that the service, sacrifice and valor of those who served in this storied unit in World War II are never forgotten.”
The medal, she said, will likely one day become part of the Mighty Eighth’s soon-to-be expanded Prisoner of War exhibit.
The Pooler museum, Fike said, was an even better fit for the once lost medal than he’d expected.
On March 22, 1944, 466th BG flew their first mission . . . to Berlin. Our B-24 the “Terry and the Pirates” was hit by flak over Berlin and we lost the #1 propeller. A mid-air collision ensued causing “Terry” to lose props #2 and #3. The “Brand” a B-24 lost its tail, causing it to go into a tight spin. Len Smith, a Bombardier, was trapped in the “Terry” nose turret; the electrical and manual systems rendered it inoperable by the crash. The turret would not turn so that its doors could open to let Len out. Len had sustained substantial injury. For me to extricate Len from his predicament was most difficult since he was in shock and kept removing his gloves (at –35oF or below) and oxygen mask (at 23,500’). I tried putting his mask and gloves back on repeatedly while trying to spring the nose turret door open, I put an arm around his chest and pulled him out, which was quite an achievement. Eventually Lou got Len out and released the bombs in train. Thirteen of 20 crewmembers were KIA, 5 “Terry” and 8 “Brand.”