Joe Morgan

"I joined up to see the world, not to fight a war." — Joe Morgan

Joe Morgan was the honorary chaplain of the USS Arizona Memorial. Over the years, he performed burial ceremonies for many USS Arizona survivors who chose to be interred with their shipmates on the sunken vessel.

By Morgan's own account, war was the last thing he expected when he joined the Navy as a teenager.

"I joined up to see the world, not to fight a war. When the attack started, I was scared and looked for a place to hide."

Joe Morgan was on Ford Island when the bombs started falling December 7, 1941. He ran into a hangar and found a huge I-beam to shelter himself from the fury of the bullets, bombs and explosions. While he was hiding, Morgan noticed some of his shipmates were out on the tarmac armed with nothing more than handguns, and shooting back at the aircraft roaring overhead.

"Here I was, a trained gunner hiding in an I-beam and I began to feel ashamed of myself. The shame overpowered my fear. l went into the armory and grabbed a machine gun to fight back."

For Morgan and hundreds of other young men barely past boyhood, fear was a natural and understandable reaction to the devastation they witnessed. Yet, they rose above it and went on to serve with honor, and in many cases, great heroism.

Last updated: May 2, 2018

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