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.