Young Hearts

Curtis C-46 "Commando" in flight

In the early 40s, George Eltin Morris, at 18, had already tried a semester of college, left home and hitchhiked to Florida with a buddy for a while and worked in a factory. He, with three other high school basketball teammates decided to enlist in the Army Air Corps in 1942. Since George was intelligent in mechanical and mathematical skills, this would lead him to assignment as crew chief on C-46 and C-47 transport planes which were used for dropping troops and supplies to American and Allied forces in Europe.

This also led to an opportunity for him to continue to play basketball for the 313th Troop Carrier Squadron of the Ninth Air Force. In 1943, while still stationed in the United States, his team won seventy of seventy-one games. In Sicily, 1944, his team only lost one game and won the inter-service (Army-Navy) tournament.

While in England, 1945, George became a technical sergeant and crew chief. This was a time when the allied forces were pushing hard toward Germany. As the antiaircraft fire became increasingly intense, many would not return from their missions. Some of his team members were killed in action. From what we read in George’s letters, he indicates anxiety and strain. As a devoted man of God, he became his squadron’s stabilizing presence. His team made it to the finals that year and lost the game by two points.

While the last days of the agonizing war would reveal themselves, the tension heavily bore on the men of the 313th squadron with increased flight schedules. Therefore casualties would mount. Missions quickly totaled to the number sufficient for discharge. On April 16, 1945, George took an unscheduled mission to try to meet his quota. They crossed the English Channel over Belgium. While circling a field to attempt to land, the C-46 suddenly lost altitude and crashed into a Belgian apartment complex killing several residents and the entire crew of five. At age twenty-three, George rests in Newville en Condray Military Cemetery near Sombriff, Belgium.

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