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Joe Morton

Joe Morton

  • Service Branch: United States Army
  • Service Dates: 1951–1953
  • Stationed: Camp Hagan, Japan
  • Rank: First Lieutenant

Home for Joe was a small town in West Virginia with a population of less than 500. The town, Camden-On-Gauley, is near Morgantown. Coal mining and lumber were the primary economic drivers in the community.
Joe was 21 years old and married when he graduated from West Virginia University, in 1951. Because he had been enrolled in the ROTC program, he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant when he was called to active duty on June 5, 1951, during the Korean War.
Following training at Fort Breckenridge, Kentucky, and Fort Benning, Georgia, Joe was sent to Camp Hagan in Japan. “I was extremely fortunate,” he said, “in combat, Second Lieutenants lead the charge and are easy targets for the Chinese and Koreans. Another soldier named Martin, and I, were selected to serve as Training Officers for the 24th Infantry Division and remained at Camp Hagan.
The rest of the men were sent to Korea. Many of them did not return. My best friend was killed.” Joe’s responsibility at Camp Hagan was basic infantry training involving Army discipline and small arms fire with mortars, machine guns, carbines, etc. He was stationed in Japan for nine months.
Following Joe’s tour in Japan, he returned to Camp Breckenridge, and after a year of service, was promoted to First Lieutenant. He remained at Camp Breckenridge until his discharge in Feb. 1953.
Joe’s wife, Betty, a teacher, taught briefly before having children. “We have three children and have been married for 72 years,” said Ninety-four-year-old Joe, “I’ve known Betty since I was 15.” Joe comes from a family that has been very active in protecting our country.
“My father served in France during World War I,” he said. “I also had two brothers who served in the Navy during World War II”
After returning home from the Army, Joe relocated to Washington D.C. His brother lived there and suggested that there were many employment opportunities in the area. For two years he worked for an insurance company. For 35 years after that, Joe worked for the U. S. Department of State, initially as a special agent in security. Succeeding years brought positions with increasing responsibility throughout Europe. When he retired, Joe was the Assistant Director for Policy and Planning for the Dept. of State. He was based in Washington.
Joe and Betty have lived at Londonderry since March, 2022.

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