US Paratrooper M-42 Jump Uniform (551st PIB)

A rare, complete US Airborne Paratrooper jump uniform in absolutely mint condition. The uniform was acquired as a set, and the pants are named to John D. Morgan, who was a Paratrooper in The 551st Parachute Infantry Battalion (PIB) and served in Europe during WW2. The jacket is not marked or named, but the recent owner acquired it as a set as well.

The M-42 Jump Jacket (complete with belt and early type Conmar zippers in perfect condition) is unmarked and has a 101st Airborne Division Screaming Eagles badge sewn on the left shoulder. So far I don’t know if the patch is genuine and sewn on during WW2. To my knowledge The 551 PIB did not use 101st patches, but I will do some more research here.

The nice pair of M-42 Jump Pants has Mr. Morgan’s military service number stamped in the linning and his name stamped inside one of the pockets.

The other items shown on the display did not belong Mr. Morgan, but are all part of my collection.

Biography of John D. Morgan
John Daniel “Dan” Morgan was born in 1921, the son of William Lloyd and Mary Ellen O’Brien Morgan. He was born in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada although both his parents were originally from Spokane. He graduated from Victoria High School and then moved to California where he worked for Douglas Aircraft and attended both the Cumnock School and City College of Los Angeles.

In 1942 Dan Morgan volunteered for service in the U.S. Army at Fort Bliss, Texas. He was sent to Fort Benning for training with the 551st Parachute Infantry Battalion. The early photo below identifies him as an Army Paratrooper and the rank of T5. The unit was sent to the Caribbean Theater where they prepared for the assault on Martinique. After returning to the U.S., he was injured in a training accident and placed in the HQ, 36th Reinforcement Depot for redeployment. In May 1945, he was transferred to the HQ Co. 6th Tank Destroyer Group, which would be stationed at the Dachau concentration camp in Germany. On July 21, 1945 he and another soldier named T. Boutsikaris were put on Detached Service (DS) for an eight week period at the Army University Center No. 1, in Shrivenham, England.

John D. Morgan’s name is referenced in the book Messengers of the Lost Battalion by Gregory Orfalea. Within Gregory’s book, Dan Morgan relates some of his experiences while at Dachau. It states that he arrived one week after VE Day (May 8th, 1945). Due to the location of the 6th TD Group during the month of May, he most likely spent some time at Dachau prior to his transfer to the unit. He speaks of the many piled-up bodies that he saw, the many more that would die over the next week and the townspeople who were forced to bury the bodies. He says “the stench was worse than a thousand dead horses”. He also mentions that German POW’s were eventually brought to Dachau, where he and the other soldiers provided security.

When Dan Morgan left the army in 1946, he first attended Gonzaga University. He then transferred to the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University in Washington D.C., from which he graduated in 1950.  While there, he participated in the ROTC program and was commissioned into the Air Force Reserve in 1949 at Lowery AFB, CO.  Dan held various Air Force and National Intelligence assignments throughout the country, including the Central Intelligence Agency in Washington D.C. and the Far East. He also worked for the Army Missile Intelligence Command at Huntsville, AL and numerous Air Force assignments throughout the U.S.


Photos of John D. Morgan dated 1943 (New York) and 1972 (McChord AFB)

In 1970, Mr. Morgan joined the U.S. Customs Service and worked as an inspector at various posts in the Port of Seattleincluding temporary assignments at Nighthawk, near Loomis. He retired in 1977 and moved to Wauconda, where he built a home on Mt. Toroda and was a resident for 24 years. While there, he established the Morning Song Forest Restoration Project to demonstrate ecologically sound practices to reclaim over-logged land and establish a sustainable forest operation.

The photo above on the right is from 1972 while he commanded the USAF Reserve Intel unit at McChord Air Force Base. At that time his rank was Lieutenant Colonel.

Dan Morgan also wrote 11 books, including his definitive history of the 551st Parachute Infantry Battalion (The Left Corner of My Heart), his personal memoirs, poetry, a series of videos of music and scenes for meditation. Mr. Morgan was a lifelong member of the Catholic Church and had been a Secular Franciscan for more than 40 years. He was also a past officer of the 551st Parachute Infantry Association, a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Washington Society of the Sons of the American Revolution.

John D. Morgan past away in January 2002 and is survived by his wife of 52 years, La Honda Jo Walton Morgan, four sons, Daniel, Tom, Ric and Bill as well as four daughters, Suzy, Tree, Lee and Maria. At the time of his death, Dan had 18 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren.

Source of biography and photos: http://www.tankdestroyer.net