George E. Morgan, Memphis, Tennessee, joined the Army Air Force as an air cadet in December 1941.  Air Cadet Morgan began his basic training at Kelly Field in Texas as a member of Class 42-G.  He received his flight training at Cimarron Field and Enid – both in Oklahoma.  He completed his training and received his wings at Foster Field, Texas, in August of 1942.  Now a second lieutenant, George was sent to Paine Field, Washington, to fly the P-38.  From there it was on to Grand Central Air Terminal, Glendale, California, where on a routine local patrol, he encountered “motor” trouble due to a faulty fuel system and had to ditch his P-38D about a mile offshore from El Segundo Pier.  Suffering no more than “a scratch on my nose”, he was rescued by a nearby fishing boat and returned to duty.

Toward the end of October 1942, George received orders sending him overseas.  He arrived in Australia on November 15th, 1942, on his 22nd birthday.  He was assigned to the 370th Service Squadron and the Special P-38 Training Program being conducted by the 49th Fighter Group at RAAF Amberley Field near Ipswich, Queensland.  While there, he became friends with Lt. Jack C. Mankin of the 9th Fighter Squadron.  Jack was married to Lt. Patricia (Knapp) Mankin, USANC, of the U.S. Army 105th General Hospital situated on the grounds of the Gatton Agricultural College.

On Thanksgiving Day, Jack invited George to go with him to a dinner dance being held by the 105th.  That evening George met the young woman who would later become his wife, 2ndLt. Mary L. Scott, USANC.


Near the end of December, the Special P-38 Training Program was discontinued and George was assigned to local patrol duties.  In March of 1943, he was assigned to the 39th Fighter Squadron, 35th Fighter Group, at Schwimmer Air Drome near Port Moresby, New Guinea.  The 39th FS and their P-38’s occupied the northern end of the air strip and the 13th BS, 3rd BG, and their B-25’s occupied the southern end.  George was among the nine new pilots reporting in to the 39th FS on March 4, 1943 – the day after the conclusion of the Battle of the Bismarck Sea.  March 4th was also the day after the 39th lost three pilots and planes in the battle:  Capt. Robert L. Faurot, 1st Lt. Hoyt A. Eason, and 1st Lt. Fred B. Shifflet.  

1st Lt. George E. Morgan & S/Sgt. William F. Loy   July - August  1943

  1st Lt. George E. Morgan  July - August  1943

Located not far from Schwimmer Drome was a detachment called “Weather Central” to which George’s older brother, Sgt Jay L. Morgan, Jr., was assigned and the brothers were able to visit frequently.


The Untold Story of the 39th Fighter Squadron