By Dasha Morgan- The Board of Trustees of the Memphis Belle Memorial Association and the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force in Savannah, Georgia, have dedicated a Memphis Belle plaque in the Museum’s Memorial Garden.
Captain Robert Morgan thanks the ground crew. The young men assigned to the Memphis Belle represented a typical Eighth Air Force heavy bomber crew. They ranged in age from 19 to 26 and came from states across the US, including Washington, Indiana, Texas, and Connecticut.
This took place on September 25, 2019, with Alex Kershaw, the best-selling author of books on World War II history—The Bedford Boys and The Longest Winter— speaking.
This past May, a three-day event took place at the National Museum of the US Air Force in Dayton, Ohio, for the opening of the Memphis Belle Exhibit.
The Memphis Belle had not been on public display since 2002 and has been meticulously restored. The well known B-17 F Memphis Belle, piloted by Captain Robert K. Morgan of Asheville and co-piloted by James A. Verinis of Connecticut, was considered the first U.S. Army Air Force heavy bomber to return to the United States after completing 25 combat missions over Europe during World War II.
The Memphis Belle became a bomber legend, when the plane and its crew embarked on a campaign and bond tour throughout the United States. Sadly another plane, a B-24 called Hot Stuff, which was originally intended for this U.S. tour, crashed on the way home while looking for a place to land in Iceland in bad weather. This necessitated that the Memphis Belle and its crew embark on the scheduled bond tour.
The National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force is located near the Savannah International Airport at 175 Bourne Avenue in Pooler, Georgia, only minutes from downtown Savannah where the Eighth Air Force was activated in 1942.
The Museum features over 90,000 square feet of exhibits, interactive displays, historical artifacts and a magnificent collection of aviation art. It has continually changing educational programs and exhibits, and houses a B-17 flying Fortress , named The City of Savannah, inside the Museum’s Combat Gallery which is undergoing complete restoration.
The Memorial Garden lies outside the rear of the museum. It is a great honor to have a plaque to the Memphis Belle crew placed in the Memorial Gardens, which is a quiet testament to their cherished memory. Stone walls and granite monuments with the names of others who valiantly served their country line the winding paths around a dramatic reflecting pool.
These memorials are not limited to World War II and include a Vietnam War Monument and a Korean War Monument. Memorials include plaques, personalized benches, living trees, Tribute Towers and more.
The United States Eighth Air Force deployed to England with a daunting mission: destroy Germany’s ability to wage war, and gain command of the European skies to pave the way for an Allied land invasion. In order to accomplish this, thousands of American airmen had to face the constant threat of death daily.
The Eighth Air Force alone suffered an estimated 26,000 combat fatalities out of the 350,000 officers and men. The U.S. Navy suffered 37,000 deaths out of the 4.1 million in the WW II Navy. Many 8th AAF officers and men were missing in action and never accounted for as to their whereabouts.
Today men and women continue the fight for liberty and peace serving in the 8th Air Force, now headquartered at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana.
Caption: This Plaque dedicated to the crew of the Memphis Belle was placed in the Memorial Garden this September.