Tuesday, May 26, 2009

John Morgan Rex, Brother and Soldier

This history of John Morgan Rex was written by Mary Elizabeth Herbert Rex, his stepmother. When you click on it, if all goes well, it will enlarge. You can read in her lovely hand the history the family provided for the newspapers.

Following is not the picture I'm looking for of John Morgan Rex with one of his airplanes. It will do until another one surfaces. This is the side of the P.H. Rex family home in Randolph, Utah where everyone stood for pictures.

The picture of all the fun on the left is of John Morgan Rex and his sister, Helen Rex Frazier, about 1941. That is bug spray he has in his hand. They are outside of her apartment in Oakland, California, probably on a Sunday. She affectionally called him Johnny. His mother referred to him as Morg in her letters.

John Morgan Rex Remembered

John Morgan Rex
b.28 Dec 1920, Randolph, Utah
p.Percy Harold Rex, Bessie Morgan Rex
d.3 Mar 1942, South Pacific Ocean
Memorial service. Randolph, Utah, 26 Sep 1943
Memorial Markers. Randolph Utah Cemetery. Meditation Chapel, Memory Grove, Salt Lake City, Utah. Allied War Memorial, Broome, Australia.

John Morgan Rex was named for his mother’s father, John Hamilton Morgan.

He was a cute “little boy” and the school teachers who lived with us called him “Buddy” and took many pictures of him. As he grew older he made up names for three imaginary friends “Once, Gunk, and John.” He could be heard talking to them as if they were real friends.

He loved to build and would make fences from small pieces of wood and build corrals, and fence in fields; some for grain and some for hay. He built sleighs and made one strong enough to hold a 10 gallon can full of milk and could take it from the barn out to the road in front of the house, where the milk man would pick it up to take to the creamery. Morgan was more inclined to study than either of his brothers and did very well in school.

Mother died the fall of his senior year. He never said much, but I’m sure he missed her a great deal.

He went with Harold one quarter at the U of U, then joined the Air Force so he could learn all about airplanes, because that was his love, and he wanted to become a pilot. He had built many model airplanes. One had a 6-foot wing span, and a motor so it flew. He would get partly used cans of ether from Dr. Patton for fuel for his plane.

After he enlisted in the Air Force he took advantage of opportunities for advancement and in a little over one year was a Master Sergeant and a crew chief on a fighter plane.

In November of 1941 he was stationed at Hamilton Field in Marin County, California. For the Thanksgiving holiday, Father, Aunt Mary, Maeser and Flora went to California to spend it with Morgan, Helen and Glenn. Morgan was to be shipped overseas soon thereafter. He had left San Francisco on the ship “President Johnson” when Pearl Harbor was bombed and war declared. They returned to Hamilton Field and left again a few weeks later, headed for the South Pacific.

The latter part of March 1942, a telegram was received reporting Morgan missing in action. Officially, some time later, the War Department issued the following report: “Your son was one of twenty occupants aboard a B-24 which took off from the airfield near Broome, Australia, on 3 March, 1942. Soon after leaving the airfield, the plane was attacked by three Zeros, setting the fuel tanks on fire and forcing the plane to crash land in the ocean about twelve or fifteen miles from the coast.

The aircraft remained afloat only about two minutes. An extensive search of the area failed to uncover any trace of your son. It is concluded that he was killed in action when his plane crash-landed in the ocean.”

Morgan was the first casualty from Rich County in World War II. He was awarded the Purple Heart posthumously. There were many others who went into the military service at this crucial time and many who gave their lives that we might enjoy the freedoms we have.

Memorial services were held in Randolph, Utah on 26 September 1943.

Hubert Hellstrom: As a tribute to my cousin and classmate I wish to pay my respect and say a few words about his ability to accomplish things and his splendid personality. He was one of the finest fellows to be with. I am sure all of his classmates and acquaintances will say the same and will speak highly of him always. He had a great ability of accomplishing things he set out to do. An airplane was his hobby and he built many models very accurately. Now Morgan has completed his work upon this earth. He has given his life for his country so that his friends and loves ones could have peace and freedom. I hope the Lord will be with his father, brothers and sisters, and help them in every way, is my thought and prayer.

Note: I have more to post on John Morgan Rex in a week or two. I'm looking for a good digital copy of John with his model airplane 1937-38.

History, Descendents, and Ancestry of William Rex and Mary Elizabeth Brough of Randolph, Utah, compiled and edited by Ronald Dee Rex, page 277.

Hellstrom remarks from tributes written at the request of teacher, Mr. Ken Muir, compiled by Kathleen Rex Thornock.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day Memories of the Logan Temple Dedication

Ancestral Ties is a tribute to my parents. I hope to post and pass on some of the things they gathered and gave me. And Memorial Day is a good beginning.

Saturday’s Church News, May 23, 2009, published the following and sparked what I added.

This week in Church history reminds us that 125 years ago the Logan Utah Temple was dedicated by President John Taylor in three sessions May 17-19, 1884, according to the 2009 Church Almanac.

[Editor’s note: I knew my Great Grandfather John Morgan attended that dedication and that his wife went with him. I’d read about it earlier this month. I’ve promised myself for years that after retirement I’d read the John Morgan journal in the Marriott Library, Salt Lake City. It is a photocopy (quite poor in places) of a typed copy of his journal. My intent in reading the journal, and copying some sections, is to become better acquainted with him, my great grandmother, his other wives, and his families. I’m pleased to say that in the instance of the Logan Temple dedication, Mellie was able to accompany him on the trip, and share what the Saints experienced then.]

The Logan Temple was the Church’s fourth temple and the second dedicated in Utah; the St. George temple was dedicated in 1877. The others dedicated in Utah in the 19th Century were the Manti Utah Temple on May 17, 1888, and the Salt Lake Temple on April 6-24, 1893.

The 9-acre Logan temple site overlooking Cache Valley was selected by President Brigham Young, according to the almanac. Under his direction, the site was dedicated on May 17, 1877, by Elder Orson Pratt of the Quorum of the Twelve.

Church History in the Fulness of Times states of the temple dedication: “The Saints … witnessed a rich outpouring of the Spirit at the temple’s dedication.”

The Logan Utah Temple was rededicated by President Spencer W. Kimball on March 14-15, 1979, after extensive remodeling.

From the typed copy of John Morgan’s journal, John Morgan collection, Marriott Library, Special Collections, 1884, pages 5-6.

May 13, 14, 15

Nothing of any particular interest occurring. Made preparations to go to the Logan Temple. Applied for and got tickets to the Dedication Services. Made arrangements for reduced rate for self.

May 16
In company with Mellie took the 7:30 train O. C. R. R. for Logan. Some eight car loads of people. It rained quite a number of showers during the trip and was quite cool. On the U. N. R. R. we took two trains, one of 12 cars, and one of 8, all of which arrived safely at Logan at about 2 p.m.

My wife and self stopped at brother Jos. Morrells who is south on a mission. The great concourse of people were all provided for by the Saints of Logan. Attended meeting a short time and then called on sister Hannah Thatcher and family.

May 17
At an early hour this a.m. in company with many hundreds of saints, we wended our way to the Temple and at 10 a.m. the east doors being opened the crowd began to pass in, filing up a spiral staircase, we were ushered into the main audience room, capable of seating 1,500 people all of the seats being filled. The choir sang a hymn, after which Pres. Jno. Taylor offered up the Dedicatory prayer, occupying considerable time. A hymn was sung after which Pres. Geo. Q. Cannon addressed the people followed by Pres. Jos. F. Smith and Wilford Woodruff. After Pres. Taylor leading the entire company shouted Hossanah to God and the Lamb, forever, amen. After some general instructions the choir sang an anthem, composed for the occasion by brother Evan Stevens, and the closing prayer was offered by Patriarch John Smith. Led by Pres. Taylor, the congregation then filed two and two through the building passing the main rooms coming out at the point of entrance on the East. In the p.m. services were held in the Stake Tabernacle and very many attended the services. The weather has been quite delightful and the people seem to be having a time of rejoicing.

May 18
Attended services in the Tabernacle this a.m. which was made into a testimony meeting, the speakers were Pres. Woodruff, and a number of Apostles and leading Elders. At the close of the services, I went to sister Thatchers after Mellie. Had a bite to eat and from there went to the depot. At 2 p.m. the train consisting of ten cars and two engines started for Ogden, at which point we lay about an hour waiting the arrival of the U. P. Left Ogden at 5 minutes to 7 and arrived in Salt Lake at 8:20. Found the family all well.