John R Morton

Hard Hat!

John R. Morton, 77, died Aug. 14, 1996, at Kodiak Island Hospital of a lingering illness. A funeral service was held Aug.17 at the American Legion Hall in Kodiak. Burial with full military honors, a 21-gun salute and a fly-by of local pilots, took place at the Kodiak City Cemetery.  
Mr. Morton was born in June 24, 1919, in Boonville, Mo.
A highly decorated veteran of World War II, he joined the U.S. Army on Nov. 1, 1940, and trained for the armored artillery.
His unit entered the European continent through the beaches at Normandy, France, shortly after D-Day.
In the course of his military career, he would earn the Purple Heart with oak leaf cluster, the Bronze Star and the Silver Star.
Then-Sgt. Morton received the Distinguished Service Cross by Gen. George Patton for actions in battle at Pontorson, France, when his unit was caught in a German ambush on Aug. 1, 1944.
After using up his own ammunition, Mr. Morton retrieved a Thompson submachine gun from a dead soldier and continued attacking, accounting for 26 enemy deaths.
On another occasion, Mr. Morton shot down a German fighter with an M-1 Garand infantry rifle.
He left the service as a disabled veteran after five years. He was hospitalized at Fort Collins, Colo., with back and neck wounds at the time of his discharge. He and Fern Casey were married Jan. 24, 1945, in Boonville. A year later, he made his first trip to Kodiak.
An avid hunter, Mr. Morton came to the island because ''he heard it had the biggest bears in the world.'' Within a couple of years, he moved his family to Kodiak. Over the years he worked as a truck driver, janitor and stevedore for both Alaska Steamship Co. and Sea-Land.
He was a pilot and performed predatory bear control for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the late '40s and '50s, killing 17 bears with 18 shots. He had a guide service and was a receiver for Jonas Brothers of Denver. He was a lifetime member of Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans and the Military Order of the Purple Heart.
He was a benefactor of the National Rifle Association, a lifetime member and on the board of trustees of Whittington Marksmanship Center and a member of the Boonville Rod and Gun Club.  Mr. Morton is survived by his sons, John and James ''Gus'' Morton of Kodiak; daughter, Barbara Jean Fortin of Anchorage; brother, James, and sisters, Mary Frances Oswald and Dorothy Jewett, all of Boonville; sister, Elizabeth Ann Arth of Kansas; and seven grandchildren.   

First Sergeant John R. Morton's Distinguished Service Cross Citation:

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to First Sergeant John R. Morton (ASN: 20746654), United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving with Company A, 231st Armored Field Artillery Battalion, 6th Armored Division, in action against an armed enemy in the vicinity of Pontroson, France, on 1 August 1944. After his half-track was hit by an 88-mm. shell, Sergeant Morton abandoned the vehicle and started to aid the wounded personnel. While so doing, a bullet passed through his helmet, and, looking up, he saw enemy soldiers charging with bayonets. He fired on them with his carbine until it was empty and then took a sub-machine gun and advanced while firing. In the action he accounted for 26 enemy losses and greatly contributed to neutralizing the enemy ambush. His gallantry and aggressiveness reflects the highest great upon himself is in keeping with the fine traditions of the military service.