Family mourns loss of aviation hero
A local family is mourning the loss of a father, grandfather, and aviation hero after Robert “Bob” Morgan passed away earlier this month.
Retired Flight Lieutenant Robert Morgan, 85, passed away on June 11, and along with being remembered as a caring and giving individual, Robert Morgan was also the recipient of the George Medal for bravery from the Royal Canadian Air Force when he pulled an injured pilot from a burning airplane when it crashed on a runway in France in 1955.
“He was everybody’s friend, he was generous to a fault, and he went out of his way to help people,” said his son Lloyd Morgan, owner of Newcastle Towing.
Bob Morgan had been awarded the George Medal in 1957 and became an aviation hero for ignoring his own safety and rescued an unconscious pilot from a burning aircraft amid exploding ammunition.
The event took place on July 21, 1955 at a runway in Marville, France. Morgan, who was working in the landing shack that day when he saw a fellow pilot land short on the runway and his jet burst into flames. Morgan dashed to the jet and tried to get the unconscious pilot out but the canopy was jammed. He then grabbed a rock to break open the canopy. By the time firecrews arrived on scene, someone passed Morgan an axe in which he broke open the canopy and dragged the pilot to safety.
Speaking at an event in late 2015, Morgan told reporters, “He crashed and I ran to the airplane, and after that it’s just a blur… I think anybody would have done it. You don’t think. It’s just automatic. And when it’s all over you can’t remember,” reported 630 CHED in an article from June 12, 2016.
“It wasn’t a big deal to him,” said Bob’s daughter-in-law Shelley Morgan. “In the thick of it and with the adrenaline going you just do what needs to be done.”
“Those who served in the military are a different breed, and have discipline and love and caring for others,” said Shelley. “He was definitely a role model.”
The George Medal is primarily a civilian award, but it may be awarded to military personnel for gallant conduct that is not in the face of the enemy. Only 77 Canadians have been presented with the medal since 1940. Morgan spent 36 years in the air force, serving in Canada, England, France, and Germany, flying a variety of aircraft including P51 Mustangs, F86 Sabres, Harvards, CF 104’s, C130 Hercules’, and Twin Otters. He was named Airman of the Year in 1986.
After leaving the airforce, Morgan became a duty manager at the Edmonton Municipal Airport until 1994, and at that time was still flying with the reserves in the Air Force.
In 2010, the City of Edmonton named a street in the community of Griesbach in his honour, along with eight other Edmontonian veterans.
Bob Morgan was an extremely active volunteer in St. Albert, where he resided, as well as an active member of many air force associations as well as a long-time volunteer with the St. Albert Community Information and Volunteer Centre and the St. Albert Special Olympics, serving as a bowling coach for about 25 years.
Those who served in the military are a different breed, and have discipline and love and caring for others. He was definitely a role model.”
A local family is mourning the loss of Bob Morgan, an aviation hero was honoured with a rarely awarded George Medal for risking his own life to save an unconscious pilot from a burning aircraft amid exploding ammunition in France in 1955.