Honoring Our Heroes
February 1, 2023 | View PDF
John F. Morrow: Battle of the Bulge Hero
John F. Morrow is a 101 year-old WWII veteran who served as a U. S. Army tank driver in the liberation of Belgium, Holland, France and Germany. Lt. General George S. Patton was his commander during the Battle of the Bulge in the Ardennes, a region in southeast Belgium that extends into Luxembourg, Germany and France. The Battle of the Bulge was the major German offensive campaign on the Western Front during World War II taking place from December 16, 1944, to January 25,1945 during the coldest months of the year in northern Europe. Not only was Morrow enduring extremely hazardous combat, he was also responsible for maneuvering tanks in the Ardennes region in rugged terrain that encompasses rolling valleys, meandering rivers, extensive caves and dense forests. Despite heavy casualties, Lieutenant General George S. Patton's successful maneuvering of the Third Army to Bastogne proved vital to the Allied defense, leading to the neutralization of the German counteroffensive. The Battle of the Bulge was the costliest action ever fought by the U.S.
Morrow was born February 2, 1922, in Big Flat, AK, to his parents, Calvin and Matilda Morrow where he was reared and graduated from Marshall High School. At age 19, he volunteered to serve and joined the U. S. Army. He completed the Army Basic Training learning to drive Sherman tanks at Ft. Knox, KY. The M4 Sherman tank had a five-man crew including a commander, gunner, loader, driver and assistant driver/bow gunner. Further training to drive each of the Army's vehicles was completed at Camp Polk, LA, followed by desert training at Death Valley, CA, paratrooper training at Ft. Benning, GA, and frigid training at Camp Shanks, New York. All of his military driving within the U.S. was done driving a half-track vehicle. He was deployed sailing on the liner, the Queen Mary, to Scotland landing at Normandy after the Allies D-Day landing. His unit's first mission with the 23rd Armor Division was to recapture Paris from the Nazis. He suffered burns to his eyes and was hospitalized for several weeks. While still driving the half-track, he was wounded three more times. He then joined the 7th Army Division as a tank driver and suffered a bullet wound to one ear escaping a serious injury to his head because he turned his head to the side just before he was shot. After the success in the Battle of the Bulge, he was the first tank driver to cross the Rhine River as the Army entered Germany. Morrow received the military award, the European Theater of Operations Medal with Four Clusters and also received citations from colonels. His unit participated in the liberation of concentration camps. His unit of tankers gave all of their food to liberated prisoners expecting to be replenished by the supply truck; however his unit was surrounded resulting in having no food or water for three days and nights. He had opportunities to shake hands with Generals Patton, Eisenhower and Bradley. Although it was planned for his unit to go to the Pacific Theater for battle, the Japanese surrendered in August, 1945. Morrow was discharged in October,1945.
After discharge, Morrow returned to Arkansas where he did some review study at his high school followed by graduation with a B. S. Degree in Science at Northeastern Teachers College in Tahlequah, OK. He taught high school biology and chemistry and coached basketball at Timbo, Marshall and Leslie, AR, for 16 years. His next employment was at Hanford Works, a nuclear production complex, in Richland, WA, for seven years. He returned to AR and worked in dry wall construction in houses and commercial buildings retiring in 1988.
He was married to his first wife, Joyce for 54 years until she passed away, and they had two sons and nine grandchildren. Now he has been married to Carie Nell for 18 years. He and Carie enjoy playing cards and dominoes with friends weekly. Since 1957, Morrow has been serving in the ministry as a pastor. He serves as a pastor to senior adults to the New Home Baptist Church in Elmore County, AL, and the Clearview Baptist Church in Chilton County, AL.
Morrow concludes about his experiences as a tank driver in combat saying, "The thing that sticks most in my mind is how scared I was, and I was sitting there seeing German tanks shooting at me. I went in because I love this country, and I always want this country to be free. Don't let anybody ever tell you that there wasn't any praying going on out there."