Warriors in their Own Words

Remarkable stories of war told by the men who fought for a proud nation. Their words. Their voices. Our first episodes tell riveting stories from World War II, then we move on to the Vietnam War and other dramatic conflicts.

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Chief Master Sergeant Doug Morrell Part I: “The Legend” in WWII

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Chief Master Sergeant Doug Morrell Part I: “The Legend” in WWII

CMSGT Morrell rode along on bomber missions over Europe during WWII as a combat cameraman. He was called upon several times to replace gunners after they had been killed, and was shot down three times during his service.

Doug Morrell joined the Army Air Corps two years before World War Two as a combat cameraman. He completed glider pilot training, and was sent to the University of Southern California for a year to study film and photography.

Once the war started, Morrell accompanied crews on various missions all over Europe and Africa. It was his job to document the mission with film or photos so that the operation’s execution could be evaluated afterwards. He almost exclusively flew on bomber missions, and was called upon several times to replace gunners after they had been killed. As a result, he was provided with gunner’s wings despite never going to gunnery school.

On one mission, Morrell’s aircraft was shot down over the “Iron Gates” of Romania. As a navigator was bailing Morrell and a gunner out, he made a mistake that sent them miles away from where the rest of the crew landed. The two of them spent twenty-six days evading capture and walking across the mountains of modern day Kosovo and northern Albania. Eventually they reached the Adriatic Sea, where they paid a fisherman to take them to Italy where they could meet up with allied forces.

Morrell was later shot down in Romania again, but this time he was captured by German forces. He was kept in a prison camp for four and a half months before being rescued by the Russians. After that, he was sent back to the States.

These two incredible stories earned him the nickname “The Legend,” but his adventures were far from over. He was redeployed to Europe during the Cold War, spent five years in Panama documenting civic actions, and served in Korea and Vietnam.

In Vietnam, Morrell would be shot down for a third and final time, where he shattered a bone in his ankle on landfall. He landed in hostile territory, and radioed for help. Nine hours and one firefight later, Morrell was air evaced to safety. You can learn more about this story here.

After being shot down over enemy lines for the third time and escaping, Chief Master Sergeant Doug Morrell truly cemented himself as “The Legend. He was later awarded the Combat Camera Lifetime Achievement Award and the AIr Force Outstanding Civilian Career Service Award.


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