Early Life

Baseball Contract

UDT Training

Normandy

Pacific UDT and Okinawa

Iwo Jima UDT

Returning Home

Home on Leave

Hospital then Discharge

Being Wounded

Postwar

Tokyo Bay Surrender

Reflections

Annotation

George Edward Morgan was born in Lyndhurst, New Jersey on 29 June 1927. He had a younger brother named Robert. Because of their age difference, the boys had a limited relationship. That bond has developed over the years. Growing up during the Depression, his father lost his job on Wall Street. He was out of work for four years. The extended family all moved into one house because there was no work for any of them. As a youngster, Morgan would get 35 cents a month selling magazines. That money was turned over to the family budget. At the time, two pork chops cost a nickel. Gasoline was only 19 cents a gallon. A newspaper was three cents as was an out of town postage stamp. There was a ball field close to his home. It had no fences around it except for behind home plate. A semipro team played there. The team could not afford but two baseballs because of the cost. Morgan would fetch foul balls for a quarter a piece for the team. The money he earned by returning the balls to the team was turned over to the family as income. He worked for an older fellow who drove a truck. The two would pick up and deliver laundry. Morgan received a quarter on Tuesdays and Thursdays for that job. The quarters further helped with family expenses. With no grocery markets near Lyndhurst at the time, consumers had to purchase meat from a butcher shop, can goods from a separate store, and vegetables from a different supplier. Morgan would deliver groceries from each of the different suppliers and receive tips as a result. Though the suppliers did not pay him, he could get 30 or 40 cents a day in tips for food deliveries. It was a lot of money at the time. He also delivered 100 New York newspapers from eight publishers every day. The publishers even included one German and one Italian printer. He had to be certain that the right paper went to the right house every day. For paper deliveries, he would be paid a dollar per week. That money also went into the family kitty. Morgan worked since he was seven years old. His income was a big help to the family during the Depression. His father was born in 1901 and served in the Army 27th Infantry Division during the First World War. Morgan’s brother served in Korea and his son served in Vietnam. With his grandson just completing his Navy service, the family has been represented in most of the major conflicts of the United States since the First World War.

Annotation

The young George Morgan enjoyed baseball as a fan and player. In 1942 or 1943, Branch Rickey became general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers. The O’Malley family owned the team. Rickey had developed a farm system for the St. Louis Cardinals before he was made Dodger manager. That made St. Louis perennial champs. The American and National Leagues each had eight teams at the time. The first thing Rickey did when he started with the Dodgers was to develop that same type of farm system for his new team. Morgan followed the Dodgers on the radio. There was no television at the time. [Annotator’s Note: television did not have widespread public use until the 1950s.] From those radio broadcasts, he learned where tryouts were going to be held near him. He took a train to Trenton, New Jersey where he took a bus to the tryouts. When he was called to pitch, he met George Sisler who was the last and only man to hit .400 for the National League. [Annotator’s Note: Sisler worked with Rickey as an aid and scout over the years. His final batting average over 16 seasons in the majors was a very respectable .340. He had played ten seasons for the St. Louis Browns displaying not only the remarkable batting average, but an outstanding base stealing record. He retired from playing in 1930. There is a statue of him outside Busch Stadium in St. Louis.] Sisler caught Morgan for 15 or 20 minutes. Morgan was getting fatigued. Sisler talked to someone and then Morgan was called to pitch for batting practice. Only one man hit a ball and it went to the shortstop. Morgan was offered the option of staying to do more the next day or going back home. Morgan returned home. A month later a letter came to him from the Dodgers. It indicated that they would like to talk to him about a contract. He was delighted with the news. He went to Brooklyn close to Ebbets Field and joined several other men in the same position in a Dodger’s office. [Annotator’s Note: Ebbets Field was the home of the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1913 to 1957 when the team moved to Los Angeles, California.] He was invited in for a talk with Branch Rickey. Morgan recognized him immediately. Rickey offered him a contract to join their Elmira Class A Eastern League team. With most of the ball players in the service, the minor leagues were in trouble. Some teams and even leagues folded for lack of players. Rickey offered Morgan a standard contract to pitch for the team. Rickey told the young man to bring the contract home and have it reviewed by his family lawyer and parents. He needed the family approvals because he was less than 21 years of age. The family did not even know a lawyer, but his father and mother looked over the document and approved their son’s signature and signed it too. Two weeks later, he received a notification of the date to report to his new team. That would require a bus ride which the team provided. He was to report to a boarding house which the team would cover. This was fantastic news to Morgan. He was a specialty pitcher rather than a fast ball pitcher. Prior to this, Morgan had enlisted in the Navy. He reported to his Navy recruiter what had recently happened. He was told it would be a couple of months before being called by the Navy. Instead, just a few days later, he received his orders to report for induction into the Navy. He never got his chance to play for the Dodgers farm system.

Annotation

George Morgan was given a physical and sworn into the Navy along with many other men on Church Street. [Annotator’s Note: Church Street in New York] They were taken by train to Sampson, New York where a new base had just opened. The new arrivals spent much of their time constructing barracks. Right off the train, they were given another examination and a haircut. One of the checks involved an oral exam. Morgan stayed in the dentist chair for a long time having multiple filings put in his mouth. The family could never afford dental work prior to that point. After boot camp, he was given a five day leave to return home. Afterward he was sent to amphibious school in Fort Pierce, Florida. While traveling on the train, the SPs would pull down shades on the windows when they passed through cities. [Annotator’s Note: SP—Shore Patrol or Navy police force] That was to prevent the people outside from determining the type of troops on the train. When he arrived in Florida, he was asked many questions including if he could swim. He made the biggest mistake of his life when he confirmed that he had been a lifeguard. He had been paid 20 dollars a week for the work even though it was for 80 hours a week. [Annotator’s Note: Morgan had worked since he was seven years of age at odd jobs. Some only paid tips so the salary of 20 dollars per week to help with family costs would be much appreciated during hard times of the Depression.] Morgan was separated from the other interviewees. About six men were loaded on a truck and transported outside the base into a fenced secure area. He found out that he had just volunteered for underwater demolition. He had no idea what that entailed, but there was no use in arguing about it. He went into an area with six and eight man tents. He had his sea bag and hammock that had been issued to him. There were canvas fold up bunks on the tent floor. Morgan sat on one of them and watched the other newcomers arrive. They were marched to the chow line and fed. They marched back and then the men found out they were assigned to UDTs or as the other part of the Navy called them, “undesirable tourists.” [Annotator’s Note: UDT—Underwater Demolition Team members were also referred to as frogmen.] The men were told that they would blow up obstacles for various invasions in the Pacific and Europe. They started learning how to handle explosives. They worked with tetratol which was one and a half times more powerful than dynamite. It came in 20 pound sacks. The sack had a long adjustable strap on it. It had a long primer cord fuse on it. The men were taken to a beach where the Seabees had constructed tetrahedrons. [Annotator’s Note: Seabees stood for the initials CBs—Construction Battalions in the Navy.] The tetrahedron was the typical obstacle the demolition men would encounter. The men worked as teams to assure the right methods were being used. The UDTs had been issued swim fins and face masks that were ill-fitted. They had to be cut to suit the individual. Initially, the men had problems with both when they had to swim a little over half a mile. Shortly afterward, in hell week they had to swim four miles in and out of the surf twice a day. They had to run and crawl on the beach and learn to detect mines in the sand. It was very uncomfortable. If a man tripped on a mine, a firecracker would detonate and cover the individual with sand. Sleeping was minimal. Meals consisted of only K and C rations. When they were not running or swimming, they were going through the mangrove swamps outside of Fort Pierce. It was brutal for a week. The last day, they were told that they were to be given a special treat. After walking through the swamps, they reached an open field with existing foxholes. They were told to get inside a hole. A loudspeaker message told them that they were surrounded by explosives which would be detonated. The intent was to acclimate the men to the feeling of being under fire. The first few charges sounded farther away, but soon the blasts grew much closer. One went off about three or four feet from Morgan’s foxhole, and a rock hit him in the forehead. He thought he lost his eye. Morgan called for a medic to assist him. The explosions stopped as he was taken to an aid station. He was bleeding profusely. The medic said that he thought Morgan had lost his eye. This gave Morgan serious concern. After being cleaned up, the eye was not lost. There was no more firing. That brought hell week to an end. Some men dropped out and some were asked to leave. Morgan never saw those individuals again. Hell week is still a tradition with the Navy Seals today. [Annotator’s Note: the UDTs are considered the forerunners of today’s Navy Seals] Morgan has seen the Seals during this training and thinks that the men today are in much better shape than he was in his training. He was just a kid off the street when he entered UDT. Morgan, having been identified as a Second World War frogman, has been escorted by a Seal Corpsman in Team 6 through their training regimen and facilities. The men today are in much better shape and voluntarily work constantly on improving. It was interesting to see them.

Annotation

George Morgan left Fort Pierce after a month and a half along with two dozen other men. [Annotator’s Note: Fort Pierce, Florida was where Morgan received his UDT—Underwater Demolition Team or frogmen training.] They were told that they would be taken to Normandy. They were flown from Florida to Virginia where they stopped for refueling. From there, they went to Maine and refueled. It was cold in Maine. Then on to Newfoundland followed by Scotland before reaching their destination in southern England where the journey ended. When the Normandy invasion went off, the NCDU—Naval Combat Demolition Units were comprised of five man teams with an officer in charge. The officer was usually an ensign. The teams were to take care of obstacles on the beach. At Omaha, the water was so rough that half the explosives were lost. [Annotator’s Note: Omaha Beach was one of the five code named beaches planned for the 6 June 1944 Allied invasion of Normandy, France—D-Day. Due to the extensive casualties there, it was given the nickname Bloody Omaha.] The major mistake made in the invasion was that the NCDUs should have preceded the infantry assault waves. The American troops used the enemy obstacles as cover during the invasion. Those troops did not want to move and lose their cover. At the same time, the frogmen were tasked with the destruction of the obstacles. That misfortune later prevented the mechanized equipment from getting through. That was a real SNAFU. [Annotator’s Note: SNAFU—Situation Normal All F(expletive)’ed Up was commonly used by troops to indicate a bad circumstance] Morgan could observe the Rangers trying to get up the cliffs. He was glad he had not been assigned that duty. [Annotator’s Note: the 2nd Ranger Battalion assault to scale the steep cliffs at Point du Hoc between Omaha and Utah beaches to eradicate German artillery was one of the more perilous assignments of D-Day.] Morgan was very frightened and wondered what in the world he was doing there. The noise was terrible. It seemed like a thunderstorm with lightning directly above your home. It was continuous for hour after hour. It was awful. There was no escape from the situation. He saw one man with a hole blown through him large enough to fit a bowling ball. Another man had his right arm shot off. He tried to pick up his rifle with that arm, but it was not there. It was terrible. Morgan was 17 when he was in the service. He had chosen the Navy to avoid what his father had suffered through while in the Army during World War One. In addition, he would get three meals a day and have a place to sleep. Food and sleep were important. He never knew he would end up doing what he had to do. After the action on Omaha Beach, he was taken away from the combat.

Annotation

George Morgan returned to Fort Pierce. [Annotator’s Note: Fort Pierce in Florida was the training base for the Underwater Demolition Teams—UDTs or frogmen of the Second World War. Morgan returned there after serving on Omaha Beach during the D-Day 6 June 1944 invasion of Normandy, France.] Commander Draper L. Kauffman was in charge of all Underwater Demolition. The team concept began at this point. There were 88 man teams with 13 officers. The teams were preparing for invasions in the Pacific. Saipan may have been the first UDT assignment. [Annotator’s Note: after the horrendous Marine losses on Tarawa after they encountered unexpected coral reef obstacles and tides, UDTs were deployed first in the Pacific at Kwajalein in January 1944. Thereafter, at Saipan in June 1944 and with subsequent beach assaults, frogmen examined the beach characteristics prior to troops landing.] The UDT platoons would be assigned to an LCVP—Landing Craft Vehicle Personnel. The LCVP had a crew of three men. There was a coxswain, motor mech—motor mechanic, and radio man. The 20 man UDT platoon would be assigned to the boat. An eight men rubber boat was lashed to the side of the LCVP. The coxswain could observe the boat beside his position. He would control the speed and course of the LCVP. The rubber boat had a man in it. That individual had a line (rope) with an eye at the end that would be used to recover the swimmer in the water. The line had tape on it to protect the swimmer’s hand. The rubber boat would pick up the swimmer who would use his fins to propel himself into the boat at which time the line would be freed to pick up the next swimmer. The recovered frogman would go over the gunwale to reach inside the LCVP. The movement would be constant so as to avoid enemy fire that would be more accurate had the recovery process stopped in the water. The process was reversed for deployment of the frogmen. A man would go over the gunwale of the LCVP into the rubber boat and then roll off the rubber boat into the water at predetermined intervals of 25 yards. The men swam in pairs so two would go off at a time. They used different swim strokes while they carried their gear. They used fish line that was marked off about every 25 yards. One of the two men in the pair would stay at the six fathom—36 feet depth of water. The other man swam toward shore and charted water depth every 25 yards and make note of it on a slate strapped to his leg. He would note if a reef or any other anomalies existed. That was done all the way to the beach. Dropped off half to three quarters of a mile from the beach, they would swim to the six fathom location and begin their soundings toward the beach. The incoming swimmer had height measures marked on his body so as he swam to the beach, he could take readings along the way. This had to be done for the length of the projected assault beach. It might have required ten different teams to get all the reconnaissance readings. The individual readings would be transposed to a composite map for the command structure to decide if the proposed beach was acceptable with its terrain. When the Japanese first observed the UDTs taking their readings and then leaving, they assumed incorrectly that the American invasion had been repulsed. Obstacles were used at Okinawa. There was not only coral there but as the frogmen swam into the beach, they came upon an area where the Japanese had given special attention. The enemy had taken bamboo or steel rods and driven them into the coral in a rigid fashion. [Annotator’s Note: the battle of Okinawa began on 1 April 1945.] Next, they intertwined barbed wire in between and placed mines on top of the hidden poles. It was really tough there. The frogmen had to blow up the poles. They used an extensive amount of explosives for each pole. This was done days before the invasion start. Depths were taken afterward to be assured of what type of mechanized equipment could be brought ashore for the assault. Iwo Jima was before Okinawa. The latter was Easter Sunday of 1945. Iwo Jima was in February 1945. At Iwo Jima there was another problem. The beach was composed of lava. There were lava rocks well out into the water. Lava was tougher to blow up than coral. Ernie Pyle was killed at Okinawa close to when Roosevelt died. [Annotator’s Note: Ernie Pyle died on 18 April 1945 and President Franklin D. Roosevelt died on 12 April 1945. Ernie Pyle was a much admired war correspondent who followed troops into action in Europe and then transferred to the Pacific after the Germans surrendered. He was with troops on the island of Ie Shima near Okinawa when he was hit by enemy machine gun fire and died instantly.]

Annotation

George Morgan was tasked at Iwo Jima to swim to a peninsula in the island and place a battery operated light on it. It was to be facing out to sea. Morgan assumed that it was for Navy navigation, but he was not certain of that. One or two swimmers were lost in that effort. It appeared otherwise to be a success. Mount Suribachi was to his left as he swam to shore. He finished his assignment and left the area well before the flag was raised. [Annotator’s Note: Morgan was an Underwater Demolition Team—UDT member on several amphibious landings. The UDT men were also known as frogmen. The battle for Iwo Jima began in February 1945. Morgan completed his assignment and withdrew prior to Marine landings. One of the more memorable incidents in the battle was the raising of the United States flag by Marines atop the highest peak on the island. That peak was Mount Suribachi. The raising of a second, larger flag was captured in film and still photography. That moment has become the hallmark symbol of the United States Marine Corps.] Part of the assignment for the UDT men had been to gather samples of the beach sand and secure them in small sacks tied to their trunks. Adequate heavy vehicle support on the beach had been validated back in Hawaii prior to this time. There was no equipment to do that just a few hours before the invasion start. The responsibility of the UDT crews ended where the waterline terminated on the beach. Invasion planners wanted to know what was further inland behind that cut-off was so the swimmers would attempt to observe beyond their assigned stopping point. They worked without tanks or any other breathing apparatus. Morgan could hold his breath for about three minutes. He previously had gone down an anchor chain to 77 feet. His nose and ears bled when he came up. He was young and foolish. At one point, there was an idea that a swimmer would carry a .45 gun, but they never did. A pistol would not work under their operational conditions. They did carry a knife plus depth and distance strings to measure locations from the beach of coral or other obstructions. Although some men wore life belts, Morgan never did. The belts had CO² cartridges that could be broken to inflate the belt in order to float an injured man wearing one. Morgan only used a face mask and fins. He read an October 1945 Saturday Evening Post article about the frogmen entitled “They Hit the Beach in Swim Trunks.” His mother saved the article by a fellow named Hopper for him. That was the first public knowledge of the work of the UDT. [Annotator’s Note: Morgan looks over the article and sees that his platoon is shown in it. The photograph in the article includes an image of several of his mates as well as himself.] The frogmen carried 60 pounds of tetratol explosives on their backs.

Annotation

George Morgan mentioned Kauffman as being the only superintendant of the Naval Academy who followed his father in that assignment. [Annotator’s Note: Commander Draper L. Kauffman, Jr. was in charge of all Underwater Demolition when Morgan returned from his Underwater Demolition Team—UDT combat during the Normandy invasion of Omaha Beach on 6 June 1944. The team concept for UDT began at this juncture.] Morgan returned home from Japan soon after the end of the war. He sailed on the USS Knudson (APD-101). Commander Kauffman came back with them because the Knudson was one of the first ships that returned troops. Kauffman said that anyone interested in going to Annapolis should see him. Morgan and two other men did so. Kauffman talked to him for two hours asking many questions. He did the same for the other two men. Afterward, Kauffman told the men that he would give them a Fleet Appointment to go to Annapolis, but he advised them to brush up on their previous education. He suggested that they attend their local high school to refresh their memory on math and science and so forth. He gave the men a 60 day leave to go home and do so with the proviso that when they returned to California, they would get orders to go to the Navy Prep School in Little Creek, Virginia. There, they were to take an entrance examination for the Academy. When the ship reached home in Coronado, the war was just over. Morgan’s APD was one of the first ships back. It was in the early afternoon. There were signs as well as a Black Navy band welcoming them home. [Annotator’s Note: Morgan is emotionally affected by the memory] The normal compliment on the ship was 200 but there were an additional 100 UDT men aboard. It was tight on the vessel. There was a steel room on the aft deck with five high bunks for the added men. Food was stored under the bunks. Fresh food ran out quickly at sea. The men lived on canned food until a resupply ship pulled up alongside. It was tough. The APD pulled into the base which had just been started for the UDTs. The other locations for the UDTs were in Maui and Fort Pierce, Florida. Kauffman got the mess hall to open up and feed the men. Morgan thought he had died and gone to Heaven with all the good food. One of Morgan’s platoon mates named Grady from Tennessee wanted more food but the server did not comply. When Grady reached across and grabbed the server an SP told him to let loose of the server who was a German POW who did not understand English. [Annotator’s Note: no given name was provided for Grady. SP is the abbreviation for Shore Patrol or Navy police. A POW is a Prisoner of War.] That Sunday afternoon the POWs had free time and played a game of soccer. That was the first time Morgan saw the sport being played. Morgan was perplexed by the sport rules. Morgan had a weekend pass and decided to go to LA where there was a Hollywood Stage Door Canteen. The men took a trolley car there. The place was jammed. There was a band to dance to and other entertainment. There was no alcohol served but there was soda and snacks. On one side of the room there was a long bar with Joan Crawford signing autographs. On the other side of the room was Bette Davis doing the same thing. On stage was Alan Alda who is Robert Alda’s father. The latter starred in the television program called MASH. The joke that Alda told concerned Mae West being compared to bald headed Marines. Crawford was the favorite actress of Morgan’s mother. She told Morgan that she enjoyed signing autographs and personalized the autograph for his mother. [Annotator’s Note: Morgan is emotionally affected by the details of the Crawford autograph. Robert is the father of MASH star Alan Alda.] Shortly afterward, Morgan and his mates are invited to go to dinner at a movie star’s home. They took a chance on the offer and ended up in a nice neighborhood. They proceeded up to the front door of a ranch style house and rang the bell. The door opened and there was a famous movie star, Gene Tierney. She was married to a well-known fashion designer named Oleg Cassini. The sailors had a wonderful visit and dinner. Later, they returned to the YMCA to spend the night. Morgan’s officer was an ensign named Don Harveson from Minnesota who previously had sung with the Les Brown Orchestra. [Annotator’s Note: surname spelling is not certain] The orchestra was playing at the Palladium which was a huge dance hall accommodating thousands of people. The officer said they should go and see if they could get backstage passes. Les Brown recognized the ensign and greeted him. Doris Day was a young popular singer at the time. She sang with the orchestra and had a hit called “Sentimental Journey.” She was seemingly dating the drummer in the group. The sailors had a chance to speak to the stars until Brown and Day had to go back on stage and perform.

Annotation

Kauffman gave George Morgan a 60 day leave upon their return home. [Annotator’s Note: Commander Draper L. Kauffman, Jr. was in charge of all Underwater Demolition when Morgan returned from his Underwater Demolition Team—UDT combat during the Normandy invasion of Omaha Beach on 6 June 1944. The team concept for UDT began at that time. Morgan served under Kauffman’s command participating in multiple Pacific invasions.] Morgan took a train trip home from LA to Chicago. [Annotator’s Note: LA—Los Angeles] It was very crowded. He had no seat for four days on the trip. The only time they could sit was when they stopped at a rail station. Coffee and donuts were still being served at stations at that time. When he reached Chicago, he had to transfer from one station location to another about a mile and a half away. It was very cold. He had his sea bag and hammock over his shoulder. He had to walk after standing on the previous trip. He did manage to get a seat for the trip to New York. The family had relocated but Morgan did not know the exact location. When he reached Grand Central Station, he was accosted by two Shore Patrol officers who told him he was out of uniform. He had the proper uniform for the west coast but not for the east coast at that time. They escorted Morgan to a small office with an ensign there. The officer determined the details of Morgan’s leave and travel and then asked his destination. Morgan told the officer he was going home in Jersey and that he had not been there for a couple of years. The ensign wished him luck and thanked him for coming home. Morgan took the bus to Lyndhurst. He knew the address of the new family residence but not the exact location. He arrived there on Sunday morning. He rang the bell. [Annotator’s Note: Morgan is overcome with emotion at reliving the moment.] His father said for his son to come in. The family was finishing breakfast and preparing to go to church. Morgan wanted to go with them so he asked his mother to press his clothes while he took a bath. He had been in the uniform for the trip across country. After bathing and dressing, they went to church. He was one of the first of the men to return. It was good to be home. [Annotator’s Note: Morgan is overcome with emotion at reliving these memories.] He had used seven days to get home. That much was needed to get back to California. He only had a 60 day leave. He asked a girl out. The big thing at the time was to go into New York and see a movie. There was also a stage show after the movie. Frank Sinatra was the attraction. Sinatra was only beginning his rise to stardom. After taking a bus ride to the show, the couple stood in line to get tickets. Suddenly and unexpectedly, Morgan passed out. He was taken to a first aid room in the theatre. Morgan came to and was not hurt. He remained there for awhile not knowing what was wrong. After being released, he and his lady friend were given premium tickets. It was a great show. He later returned to California.

Annotation

George Morgan waited on his orders to attend the Naval Prep School for the Naval Academy. Something was delaying them. Finally, they came through. The men went to Little Creek, Virginia where the Prep School was located. The first day there, an officer formed the men up for inspection. Morgan passed out again. [Annotator’s Note: Morgan had first passed out unexpectedly while on leave just weeks prior to this incident.] Morgan was sent to the Navy hospital in Portsmouth for evaluation. [Annotator’s Note: Portsmouth, Virginia is the location of a Naval Medical Center.] He discovered that he had been sent to a psychological facility. The hospital was secured with multiple locked doors. Only the large corpsmen had keys. He was treated by a Doctor Brickhouse who was either a psychologist or psychiatrist. Morgan was given examinations and evaluations. Some of the patients housed there were violent. One man went completely berserk. It took multiple corpsmen and a fire hose to get him into a cell. The man tore out the toilet and the bed from his cell. He was eventually given medication to calm him down. One small nurse at the hospital was Ms. Clifford. She was a lieutenant and very attractive. She went back to where the violent man was located and he nearly bent the one inch thick bars in his cell attempting to get to Ms. Clifford. Morgan was held in a secure cell for a month and a half and then placed in an open area. Morgan would go on to get a medical discharge from the Navy. He has subsequently had no problems. The doctors informed him that they just felt he had enough of the Navy. There were 16 million who had served in the armed forced during the war. The military was trying to rapidly get rid of most of the men in service at that time.

Annotation

George Morgan told his parents about his wartime experiences. He told them about being wounded in the invasion of Borneo on 25 June 1945. [Annotator’s Note: Morgan was an Underwater Demolition Team—UDT member. The UDT men were also known as frogmen.] His mother went upstairs and retrieved her diary. She had written in it that Morgan was hurt on 24 June. She thought that she had made a mistake indicating the wrong date. Her son informed her that he was across the International Dateline so that it was a day earlier in the United States than in Borneo. His mother knew that he was hurt. It was amazing. Morgan had been blown out of the water. It likely was a short round from an offshore ship that was shelling the beach. There was no fire coming from the beach. The swimmers that saw the explosion said that Morgan looked like a rag doll up in the air. He was stunned when he hit the water. He said a prayer that he would not die. He told himself the hold his breath. [Annotator’s Note: Morgan is overcome with emotion several times at reliving this incident.] After the explosion, Morgan could not move a leg and an arm. His vision in one eye was impaired. He had dislocated his shoulder. He had slipped a disc in his back that affected his sciatic nerve. He would have back surgery to replace the ruptured disc about 20 years later. Six weeks after the surgery, he was playing golf. There had been no problems since. He lived with the problem for 20 years. He did have a problem with his left shoulder dislocating when he raised it. He learned to live with the difficulties. The UDT swimmers were in teams of two. Morgan’s teammate was killed. Morgan did not realize that his friend was dead until he and his first wife travelled to Hawaii. He found the name of his friend at the Punchbowl which includes a memorial to the men killed in the Pacific.

Annotation

After the war, George Morgan was accepted into a college in Defiance, Ohio. During the war, many basic things had been curtailed. There were no new high school sports uniforms because of the rationing imposed. New clothes were only obtained through the ration stamps. It took a lot of stamps to acquire new clothes. Individuals and groups had to make do with what they had in order to provide more to the troops at war. Baseballs were in short supply. The stores only sold what was called a nickel rocket that deformed the first time it was hit. The football coach at Defiance College sent Morgan a letter. The coach was named Larry “Dutch” Schultz. Schultz had attended a small college and became an All American. He was a good ball player and a terrific coach. Some of the players Schultz coached were older than him. There were star players on the team who were excellent former players from good teams. Schools like Great Lakes Naval Training Center were represented by talented players on the Defiance team. Gene Endicott was one example. He transferred from Defiance to Michigan. He tackled Glen Davis from behind. It was the only time that feat was accomplished. [Annotator’s Note: Davis was a speedy offensive back who played for the West Point football team during the last years of the war and immediately after the Axis defeats.] Defiance ran the same system as Michigan so Endicott could readily transfer there. Charlie Wall did just the opposite and transferred from Michigan to Defiance. The football program at Defiance was very successful for a series of years. Ultimately, Morgan did not receive his degree. He attended college for two years and studied to be a history teacher. His interests were not strong enough to keep him in school. Additionally, he wanted to get a jump at the job opportunities prior to the other returning GIs who were being educated under the GI Bill program. Morgan met a girl and got married. He was hired in a machine shop. Following a long automobile industry strike, Morgan was out of work for months. He took any job he could find include being a roofer. He decided to move back to New Jersey. His parents came to Ohio with their car to assist the young family in the move back east in 1949. That was about the time the first son was born. After the move east, Morgan and his family lived for awhile with his parents. He then found work with the Duffy-Mott Company producing Mott’s apple juice and other products. He would progress up the ladder with the company from the lowest sales job he could obtain. He started at 35 dollars per week with a company car benefit. He would eventually become a vice-president with the company. He left after 23 years to start his own food brokerage business in 1971. He would end up having 13 employees and gross sales of close to 31 million dollars. He had started with nothing so his progress was not bad. He retired in 1986.

Annotation

George Morgan had the unique experience of entering Tokyo Bay prior to the Japanese surrender. His ship was anchored about two miles from the battleship Missouri where the signing occurred. [Annotator’s Note: USS Missouri (BB-63) can be found today anchored aft of the USS Arizona (BB-39) in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.] Even with binoculars, visibility of the events was limited. Morgan’s ship was anchored right off of Yokosuka Naval Base. That had been a major Japanese naval installation. They could see a massive enemy battleship in dry dock that never managed to be completed. Morgan and a couple other sailors went to a factory. The enemy had been working midget submarines in the factory. The workers had been sleeping on cots in the factory. In reviewing machinery nameplates, he found that the equipment for the Japanese war effort had been produced by the United States, England and Australia. The submarines were so small that Morgan could not access the inside of the vessel. The miniature submarines were constructed for one man to operate. Commander Kauffman may have been with the men at that time. [Annotator’s Note: Commander Draper L. Kauffman, Jr. was in charge of all Underwater Demolition when Morgan returned from his Underwater Demolition Team—UDT combat during the Normandy invasion of Omaha Beach on 6 June 1944. The team concept for UDT began at that time. Morgan served under Kauffman’s command participating in multiple Pacific invasions.] There was a concern among fleet commanders that the numerous Allied ships in Tokyo Bay might be subject to attack by some Japanese who were reluctant to accept the surrender. Morgan and his colleagues were tasked to see if the area adjacent to Tokyo Bay had any suspicious activities. They found 30 small boats that appeared to have racks that could hold a torpedo. No people were around, only the small vessels. Concerned with potential kamikaze attacks similar to those experienced off Okinawa, the Americans put holes in the bottoms of the boats so that they could not be used. Morgan final rank was 3rd Class Gunner’s Mate. He was a member of UDT 5 and UDT 25.

Annotation

George Morgan was surprised by the things he did in the Navy. Looking at it from an advanced age, he knows it was a good experience. He learned to take orders. In doing so, it made him capable of giving orders. That aided him in his corporate life. The overall experience was unforgettable. Yet, he would never want to do it again. When he was first married after the service, he would wake up at night with horrible dreams. It would bother him a lot and his wife was frightened by her husband’s actions. After 70 years, he still has the dreams. For those growing up today, they are not learning about the war in school. The young people do not know about the Depression or what life was like in World War Two. They have no idea since they are not taught about it in school. Without the sacrifice of Morgan and his generation, Americans could be speaking German or Japanese. It is important to teach about World War Two. Of the 16 million who served in the war, that number is considerably less and diminishing as time marches on. If the lessons of the war are not taught, how will the young people learn? Morgan has subsequently learned that the assault troops gained some optimism by knowing that the UDT men had already scoped out the characteristics of the beachheads including behind the dune line. [Annotator’s Note: although the UDT—Underwater Demolition Team swimmers were responsible for charting underwater depths and obstructions to the water’s end on the beach, they often were requested to observe and project what was on land in the immediate vicinity on dry land. The information was indicated on maps for the benefit of the troops landing on the beach.] Morgan has two children, a son and a daughter. Additionally, his current wife, Patricia, has three children. There are five children all together. They have been told bits and pieces about Morgan’s war experiences. The National WWII Museum is doing a good thing by capturing veteran oral histories to pass on to future generations. Morgan ends with a discussion of an invasion sites where there was concern about enemy use of pipelines to feed flames to deter the American assault. The structures that caused the concerns were observed after the action and determined to be merely sniper bunkers. Morgan had uncertainty as to exactly which invasion this pertained to. It was potentially Okinawa, but the events seeming merge together after so many years.

All oral histories featured on this site are available to license. The videos will be delivered via mail as Hi Definition video on DVD/DVDs or via file transfer. You will be purchasing the oral history in its entirety but will be free to use only specific clips. Please contact the Museum at digitalcollections@nationalww2museum.org if you are interested in licensing this content. Please allow up to two weeks for file delivery or delivery of the DVD to your postal address. See more information at http://ww2online.org/faqs.