The Man Who Flew The Memphis Belle
As a young man growing up in Asheville, North Carolina, Robert Morgan was a fast-driving party boy—a hell-raiser. But when his mother committed suicide upon learning she had inoperable brain cancer, Morgan's life changed dramatically. He was no longer a carefree playboy; he was a man searching for meaning. He found that meaning at the controls of an airplane, and in the flak-and fighter-filled skies over Occupied France and Nazi Germany. The plane was a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress. Morgan named her the Memphis Belle in honor of his fiancee, a Memphis beauty named Margaret Polk. He and his crew flew 25 successful daylight missions over Europe in the Belle, and were immortalized by Hollywood director William Wyler in a 1944 documentary called The Memphis Belle. In those 25 harrowing missions, Morgan never lost a crew member. The only casualty associated with the Belle was Morgan's engagement to the plane's namesake; it simply couldn't survive the War Department's publicity demands.
Ron Powers, Ron McLarty