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Each week the Sentinel visits a memorable story from its archives.
Sixty-three combat missions over fortress Europe as bombardier in a Martin Marauder earned T-Sgt. Richard P. Morkan, former happy-go-lucky Rockville lad, the 1 Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart and Al Medal with eleven oak leaf clusters. As a result long weary hour in the air, Sgt. “Dick” Morgan is now convalescing from operational fatigue at the huge Air Forces hospital near St. Petersburg, Fa.
Sgt. Morgan worked at Reed Bros. in Rockville, “out front” he says. “I got to know pretty near everybody there”. That was early in 1941 before the war and rationing started. When peace comes he wants to return to Rockville. “It’s a great town,” “Dick” says. “I used to be a soda jerker in at Peoples’ Drug Store, too.”Doc” Stimek taught me how to make a good milk shake. Wished for one many a time while I was with the 9th Air Force.
“Dick” was telling some of his -buddies about Rockville. He married one of the local girls – “Best in town, Jean Beall”. She now works in the Sentinel office. Sister of Leonard and Ralph Beall – and cousin to Bud Beall” he boasted, “Best guys in town.”
“Then there was Paul Wire at Reed Bros. He always paid us off, but take Les Wilson, I never saw him with his face clean. Pat Murray in the shop used to kid me a lot, and so did Raleigh Chinn and Schultz”.
It was during one of those daring daylight forays that “Dick” got his big chance – he is officially credited with shooting down a ME 109. “Dick” reluctantly tells about it. “It wasn’t much,” he says, “we were in the middle of things, flak thick as navy bean soup and the Germans everywhere. Never saw so many planes coming from every angle. Suddenly one came right down the barrel of my 50 calibers. He seemed to straddle the front sight. Sure, I was scared, but I squeezed the trigger. There wasn’t anything else to do. I was lucky, I guess. He just seemed to hang in mid-air, then blow up. Anybody could have done it”.
Only 24 years old, “Dick” has lived a lifetime in three years. He enlisted in the Air Corps December 8, 1941, trained at MacDill Field, Florida and Lowry Field, Colorado. He was sent overseas in April; he came through five rough crash landings and rode home many a time with only one motor running.