By Asheville Citizen-Times
May 16, 2004 12:25 a.m.
Col. Robert Morgan, an Asheville native and commander of the famed Memphis Belle
B-17 bomber that flew combat missions over Europe during World War II, has died
in an Asheville hospital, his wife Linda Morgan said. Col. Morgan, 85, fell at
the Asheville Regional Airport April 21, after attending an air show recently
and had been hospitalized since.
"He fought a hard battle but he just had a lot of things against him," Linda
Col. Morgan came down with pneumonia last Monday and that combined with a
massive infection contributed to his passing according to his wife.
"I want to thank each and every one of the people at Mission/St. Joseph's that
contributed to his care. They were phenomenal," she said. "He got the best care
anyone could get they are incredible, compassionate people."
Col. Morgan's family was with him when he died.
The Memphis Belle was a World War II B-17 Flying Fortress in which Morgan and
his crew flew 25 combat missions in daylight over Nazi-occupied France and
This occurred when 82 percent of the bombers in their bomb group were shot down
in the first three months of combat beginning in November 1942.
Morgan put that into perspective by saying "you have breakfast with 10 guys,
then you have dinner with only two. My crew and I aren't heroes, we didn't do
anything any better than any other bomber crew. We were just damned lucky."
On Nov. 24, 1944, he made history when his B-29 named "Dauntless Dotty" was
chosen to lead the first B-29 raid on Tokyo.
It was the first U.S. raid against Tokyo since Doolittle's in 1942 in B-25s.
Morgan went on to command 25 missions over Japan.
Tentative plans are for a memorial service at Trinity Episcopal Church in
Asheville on Saturday. The family will release more details later this week.