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  • Monument Name

    Lt. Col. Robert Morgan Memorial, Asheville

  • Type

    Marker

  • Subjects

    World War II

  • City

    Asheville

  • County

    Buncombe

  • Description

    This monument honors Lt. Col. Robert Morgan, the pilot of the Memphis Bell which was the first B-17 Flying Fortress bomber credited with completing 25 missions during World War II. The marker commemorates the day in 1943 when Morgan, an Asheville native, while on a war bond tour with the Memphis Bell flew the plane as a stunt between City Hall and the Buncombe County Courthouse. The polished black granite marker has an etching of a painting of the bomber flying between the two buildings. Near the bottom a bible verse was inscribed which was not a part of the original design (See "Controversies" below).

    Images: Far-off view

  • Inscription

    IN REMEMBRANCE OF COL. ROBERT K. MORGAN 1918-2004 / COLONEL ROBERT K. MORGAN AND HIS B-17 BOMBER CREW OF WWII’S “MEMPHIS BELL” / WERE THE FIRST TO COMPLETE TWENTY-FIVE COMBAT MISSIONS OVER GERMAN-OCCUPIED / EUROPE. AT A TIME WHEN BOMBER CASUALTIES REACHED EIGHTY PERCENT, THEIR / EXCEPTIONAL ACHEIVEMENT WAS CELEBRATED IN A SUBSEQUENT HOME FRONT WAR / BOND TOUR. AT THIS SITE ON AUGUST 14, 1943, COL. MORGAN MADE A LOW PASS / OVER PACK SQUARE, TIPPED HIS LEFT WING SIXTY DEGREES, AND FLEW BETWEEN THE / BUNCOMBE COUNTY COURTHOUSE AND THE ASHEVILLE CITY HALL BUILDINGS. THE / CONTRIBUTIONS AND EXAMPLE OF ASHEVILLE’S NATIVE SON AND HIS CREW ARE HEREBY / HONORED. THE COURAGE AND SPIRIT OF THIS ACCOMPLISHED PILOT AND THE MEN AND / WOMEN OF HIS GENERATION WHO FOUGHT IN WWII ARE SUMMED IN COL. MORGAN’S / OFT DECLARATION – “I WAS JUST DOING MY JOB.”

    Front, near base: John 12:46

  • Custodian

    City of Asheville

  • Dedication Date

    August 14, 2014

  • Decade

    2010s

  • Geographic Coordinates

    35.595780 , -82.548900 View in Geobrowsemap pin

  • Supporting Sources

      "Robert K. Morgan," wikipedia.org, (accessed December 18, 2015) Link

      Barrett, Mark. “Monument Recalls 1943 Bomber Stunt Downtown,” Citizen-Times (Asheville, NC), August 14, 2014, (accessed October 7, 2015) Link

      Boyle, John. “Answer Man: Col. Morgan’s Bible Verse Removed?” Citizen-Times (Asheville, NC), April 22, 2015, (accessed October 7, 2015) Link

      “'Memphis Belle', The Robert K. Morgan Crew” U.S.A.A.F. Resource Center, (accessed October 12, 2015) Link

  • Public Site

    Yes

  • Materials & Techniques

    Granite

  • Subject Notes

    Morgan was reassigned to the Pacific Theater following the bond drive and PR tour in the USA. Lt. Col. Morgan commanded the 869th Bombardment Squadron and flew the Boeing B-29 Superfortress "Dauntless Dottie" on the very first B-29 raid over Tokyo. Morgan also completed 25 combat missions in B-29s by the end of the World War II.

  • Controversies

    The Lt. Col. Robert K. Morgan memorial is a part of the city of Asheville public art collection and the bible verse engraved at the bottom was not a part of the approved design. The city has with limited success tried to apply paint to the engraved verse, restoring the piece of art to its original design. Someone in the public continues to paint the inscription so that it is visible.

    The actual verse, which states, “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness,” was Morgan’s favorite verse and not carved into the monument.

  • Location

    The marker is located off Court Plaza Street in Asheville, NC. It faces Pack Square Park which is across the street. The marker was erected between the two buildings the bomber flew between.

    In the immediate area of the old Buncombe County Courthouse there are other notable plaques, monuments and memorials: Western North Carolina Veterans Memorial, Revolutionary War, Spanish American and other wars, Police and Firemen who died in the line of duty, 60th North Carolina Regiment and former Governor Samuel Ashe for whom Asheville was named. Several hundred yards to the west stands the monument to Zebulon Vance and several other small markers.

  • Landscape

    Trees and shrubbery form a beautiful small park surrounding the granite memorial.

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