MARQUETTE - Immortalized in film and literature, Gen. George S. Patton is often remembered as a charismatic, larger-than-life World War II commander who famously led American forces in the invasions of North Africa and Sicily and his push against the Germans during the Battle of the Bulge.
Glen Morgan of Marquette remembers Patton in a slightly different light. Patton was his boss. Morgan, 91, worked in Patton's headquarters in the medical section and spent most of the war managing medical data and records.
"He was very strict. He had a vocabulary that no one could keep up with," Morgan said, adding Patton was "a good man to work for."
Glen Morgan of Marquette holds up a war time photo while discussing his role in World War II. Morgan, 91, served in Gen. George S. Patton's headquarters. (Journal photo by Christopher Diem)
Patton could be demanding but luckily Morgan and his staff had the organizational skills to keep up with the general's requests.
"Patton came in one day and said 'I saw a soldier in the hospital yesterday and he had his right arm blown off and I want to give him a medal.' He said 'I'll be back tomorrow to get his name and location.' Fortunately we had a good enough system we knew where the guy was, because we had to keep track of them from the time they left the front until they went all the way through the medical system, whether returned to duty or sent back farther or returned to the United States or died."
Morgan was born in 1919 in Stambaugh - now part of Iron River. He moved to Marquette in 1928. He was working as a desk clerk at the Northland Hotel, now The Landmark, when he got a letter from the draft board in May 1941.
When getting his physical exam in Marquette, he met the doctor's receptionist, Margaret Rozum. They dated all summer until September when he got a notice to report to duty at Camp Grant in Illinois. He was assigned to Armored Force School at Fort Knox, Ky.
After finishing basic training he had a ticket to come back to Marquette on furlough beginning Dec. 7, 1941 - the same day the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, officially thrusting the United States into World War II.
"All leave was supposed to be canceled but the captain said 'Hurry home and come back.' " he said. After returning from his furlough, Morgan went to Fort Benning, Ga., where he was assigned to Patton's headquarters.
In March 1942 the armored headquarters and 1st and 2nd armored divisions moved to the Mojave Desert in California. They trained there for about six months. During this time, Morgan returned to Marquette on a 10-day furlough over Easter and gave Margaret an engagement ring. It would be three and a half years before they saw each other again.
After training in the desert, the headquarters and divisions went to A.P. Hill, Va., then to Camp Kilmer, N.J. - the staging location for the U.S. invasion of North Africa.
"North Africa was bad because we weren't used to fighting in sand and the Germans were experts at it, and they almost wiped out the 1st Armored Division before the British came to help out," Morgan said.
After the Germans were defeated in North Africa, Morgan helped plan the invasion of Sicily.
"When we prepared for the battle of Sicily, I was on the invasion committee and they would give us the troop strength and then we had to determine how many of those people would be in battle, how many casualties there would be, what type of casualties and the medical personnel to take care of them," he said.
Morgan was also involved in the Allied invasion of southern France on Aug. 15, 1944. Being stationed in headquarters meant he didn't see much action.
During the invasion Morgan was "on a British boat and we had a menu and a martre d'. We anchored out five miles and watched the invasion. At 4 o'clock we had tea."
That's not to say Morgan didn't see any horrors. In April 1945 he came face-to-face with part of the Nazi's "Final Solution" for Europe's Jewish population - the Dachau Concentration Camp.
"The worst part was when we got into Germany and they had these concentration camps. I was in there the day after they liberated Dachau ... when we got there they still had 32,000 people there, waiting for the gas chamber," Morgan said.
He said after inspecting the camp with a lieutenant they both ran for the exit in fear the gate would be closed before they got out.
"It was just terrible. You can't explain it," he said.
Morgan finally got back home to the U.P. in November 1945 and he and Margaret married in January 1946. He then went to work for the Michigan Employment Security Commission and retired in 1978.
Christopher Diem can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. His e-mail address is email@example.com.