WWII Paratrooper Honored for Service

Normandy jump
Edwin Norman was honored Wednesday for his service as a World War II paratrooper.

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On June 6, 1944, known as D-Day, nearly 1,500 U.S. paratroopers died on the battlefields of Normandy, France after being dropped behind enemy lines.

One of the last remaining survivors of that World War II mission is Edwin “Doc” Morgan Jr., 94, who now lives with his wife at Park Vista Retirement Center in Youngstown. On Wednesday, he was honored with a special award for his service.

“I just outlived them all, I don’t know why,” Morgan said.

He is originally from Danville, Pa., and met his wife when they were living across from one another in Girard.

Morgan was a member of the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Division, and remembers jumping into Normandy in the middle of the night on June 6, 1944.

“When I jumped out of the plane,  all I could see was tracer bullets coming up from the Germans shooting at us,” Morgan said.

On Wednesday night, Morgan was presented with an official 82nd Airborne Division coin and certificate for his service. He said he wanted to be a paratrooper because it paid an extra $50 per month, on top of the Army’s $21 per month salary.

“I feel like his mother. I thought he was crazy for being a paratrooper, jumping out of planes to get just a little bit extra money. But that’s what he wanted to do,” said his wife, Betty Morgan, 90.

“He {sergeant} said ‘How do you feel? Are you scared?’ I said ‘You’re damn right, I’m scared. I said ‘This is the first time I was ever in an airplane, now you want me to jump out of it’,” Morgan said.

Along with fighting in the Battle of the Bulge and dropping into Normandy, Morgan brought back a German parachute that his wife, Betty, of Girard, took to a tailor in Warren to turn into her wedding dress. It cost just $18.

“What made it so authentic was that it was a German chute. It had the swastika, and the soldier’s name and his rank and everything,” Betty Morgan said.

That parachute wedding dress was part of the Columbus Museum of Art’s “Objects of Wonder” display at Ohio State University. Edwin and Betty are still happily married 67 years later and the couple has two children.

Betty said she couldn’t be more proud of her husband and what he’s done for his country.

“Very proud. And I’m proud of all of our boys that served, not just him. All of them,” Betty said.

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