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Woodrow F. Morgan

Posted 2010-01-21 by Karen
Woodrow F. Morgan, 84 years old, died of cancer on May 29, 2003 in Scottsdale, AZ. Woodrow was born in Omaha, Nebraska on July 25, 1918 to Alabama and Oceola Morgan.

He was preceded in death by his parents, wife Juanita Oliphant of Council Bluffs, Iowa and his six siblings: sisters, Crodia (Felipe) Ramirez; Mary Lawrence (Thomas) Hughes; Grady Louis (Herman) Lewis; brothers Allyn Watts, Rex (Virginia), Oceola Morgan; and grandson Mark Morgan.

Woodrow is survived by wife Mary Morgan, Scottsdale, AZ, three children, Woodrow Jr. (Dixie) Scottsdale, AZ, Gary Vincent (Angelina) Mesa, AZ and Portia Morgan, Scottsdale, AZ. Step daughters Penese Clark, Vacaville, CA, (David Clark), Sheree Watts, Vallejo, CA; mother in law, 3 sister in laws, 2 brother in laws. Other survivors include 6 grandchildren, Aaron, Andrea, Mario, Ruben, Daniel, Richard; step-grandchildren Antoine, Ryan, Marcus, Brianne, David, Derek, and numerous great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews and cousins.

(Woody) Morgan was a pilot in the 332nd Fighter Group's 99th Fighter Squadron, the "Red Tails" - the famed Tuskegee Airmen whose pilots became legends in the skies over Europe during World War II. Beginning in late 1943 he flew twenty-eight missions in north Africa and Europe, shot down three German planes and was awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.

In May, 1944, Woodrow, flying his P-40 Warhawk Fighter, was shot down over northern Italy and captured by Germans as they retreated from the advancing Allied troops. Although injured, he retreated with the German troops to a railroad line in Germany, subsisting on a daily ration of a stale piece of bread and a small amount of water. After arriving at an interim prisoner of war camp, he was placed in solitary confinement in total darkness for approximately forty-five days, again with only one piece of bread and a small cup of water each day.

In January, 1945, as Russian troops approached the interim camp, Woody and other captives were forced to embark on an 18-day "death march" in freezing weather along public highways towards a more permanent camp just north of Moosburg, Germany. They marched 24 hours a day, stopping every hour for a 10-minute rest break. Each evening at 7 P.M. they received one slice of stale bread. Some villagers gave them water as they passed through the towns; otherwise, they had only roadside snow to sustain them.

Many Allied prisoners died during this trek. Woodrow collapsed and was unable to continue the march following one rest break. He was picked up and dragged along with the group by two Mormon soldiers. That turned out to be the last stretch of the march before reaching the huge prison camp. He was confined at Moosburg from February until April of 1945 when the camp was liberated by General George S. Patton's troops. First Lieutenant Morgan was separated from military service on November 20, 1945 after serving three years.

He was an avid bridge player and a member of the East Mesa P.O.W. Group and the Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. organization. In lieu of flowers please make contributions to Tuskegee Airmen National Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 78967, Los Angeles, CA 90016. Military services to be held at Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia, at a later date.

Published in The Arizona Republic on 6/8/2003.

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