On July 28, 1943, John Cary “Red” Morgan, 28 years old, flew a B-17 bombing mission over Germany for which he was awarded the Medal of Honor. Second Lieutenant Morgan had attended Amarillo College and West Texas State Teachers College. He attended Polk Street Methodist Church with his sister Mary Tom Morgan Crain who lived in Amarillo. He was originally denied admission to the Army Air Corps because of poor grades and later was classified 4F for the draft because of a broken neck suffered in an oil field accident. He joined the Royal Canadian Air Force and was later transferred to the U. S. Army Air Corps while in England. After he received the Medal of Honor, he continued to fly and on his 26th mission was shot down over Germany and held prisoner for the remainder of the war, one of the few Medal of Honor recipients in history who was later a prisoner of war. Second Lieutenant Morgan was the inspiration for the book, movie, and television series 12 O’clock High.
Second Lieutenant (Air Corps) John Cary "Red" Morgan, United States Army Air Forces, was awarded the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty, while serving with the 326th Bombardment Squadron, 92nd Bombardment Group (H), Eighth Air Force, participating on a bombing mission over enemy-occupied continental Europe, 28 July 1943. Prior to reaching the German coast on the way to the target, the B-17 airplane in which Second Lieutenant Morgan was serving as copilot was attacked by a large force of enemy fighters, during which the oxygen system to the tail, waist, and radio gun positions was knocked out. A frontal attack placed a cannon shell through the windshield, totally shattering it, and the pilot’s skull was split open by a .303 caliber shell, leaving him in a crazed condition. The pilot fell over the control wheel, tightly clamping his arms around it. Second Lieutenant Morgan at once grasped the controls from his side and, by sheer strength, pulled the airplane back into formation despite the frantic struggles of the semiconscious pilot. The crazed pilot flailed at Second Lieutenant Morgan with his fists, knocking loose some of Morgan’s teeth, and blacking both of his eyes. The interphone had been destroyed, rendering it impossible to call for help. At this time the top turret gunner fell to the floor and down through the hatch with his arm shot off at the shoulder and a gaping wound in his side. The waist, tail, and radio gunners had lost consciousness from lack of oxygen and, hearing no fire from their guns, Morgan believed they had bailed out. The wounded pilot still offered desperate resistance in his crazed attempts to fly the airplane. There remained the prospect of flying to and over the target and back to a friendly base wholly unassisted. In the face of this desperate situation, Second Lieutenant Morgan made his decision to continue the flight and protect any members of the crew who might still be in the ship and for two hours he flew in formation with one hand at the controls and the other holding off the struggling pilot before the navigator entered the steering compartment and relieved the situation. The miraculous and heroic performance of Second Lieutenant Morgan on this occasion resulted in the successful completion of a vital bombing mission and the safe return of his airplane and crew.