Donald E. Morton, Sr.
U. S. Army Air Corps
WWII US Military
Dates of Service: 01/27/1942 - 11/08/1945
Base Sergeant Major, 65th Station Compliment Squadron

He was born the youngest of eight children in Osyka, Mississippi, where his father owned a general merchandise store. Growing up, Donald arranged windows displays in his father's store, which "increased the sales when I was a boy," he recalls. Although a Methodist and male, he attended Catawba Convent, a Catholic girls' school in Catawba, Mississippi, and studied art as a junior in high school. He created window displays in Memphis for a year, and then returned to finish school, and graduate in 1939. After Pearl Harbor Donald enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Forces. He sailed to England on the SS Queen Mary in November of 1943, and was stationed at a base ninety miles north of London. Serving as sergeant major in the Ninth Troop Carrier Command, which processed incoming glider pilots, Donald lived in an apartment and rode a bicycle to the base. On leave in London he witnessed a V-2 rocket explode. He once met a British female soldier and fifty-caliber machine gunner who shot down a German pilot. He was flying so low, she said, she could see his face. "'I killed one that was laughing, showing his teeth, and I hit him right in the face,'" he recalls her saying. Donald, a former lifeguard and swimming instructor, once volunteered to swim through gasoline, an experiment prompted by Rommel's threat to fire the English Channel with burning gasoline. He survived, although he was convinced men burdened with equipment would not. "I went straight to my commanding officer and told him, `Please don't ask anybody else. Maybe there are one or two per cent of these men that can do it and live,'" he recalls. Donald entered Europe after the D-Day invasion. Near the end of the war, while stationed at Antwerp, Belgium, he was ordered to the Pacific and was "on a slow boat to New York" when Japan surrendered. Discharged at Camp Shelby near Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Donald went to Memphis, and drew twenty dollars "for several months" in the fifty-two/twenty program. Soon, however, he took a job with the John Gerber Company, a Memphis store, where he created window displays. He later designed displays for a store in Corinth, Mississippi, and later for two stores in Shreveport, Selber Brothers and Jordan and Booth Men's Store.