Huge procession through Salisbury will bring Edwin E. Morgan Sr. home

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 18, 2015

By Mark Wineka

SALISBURY — Scores of motorcycles are expected to be part of a special Charlotte-to-Salisbury-to Rockwell escort next Thursday bringing home remains of Chief Master Sgt. Edwin E. Morgan Sr.

Members of the Patriot Guard, Rolling Thunder and Sons of Soldiers will be part of the escort, along with the N.C. State Highway Patrol and sheriff’s deputies with Rowan, Cabarrus and Mecklenburg counties.

Morgan’s surviving children, Frances Morgan Morris and Eddie Morgan Jr., will be arriving in Charlotte from Hawaii with their father’s casket at 11:19 a.m. June 25. The procession from Charlotte will take a route through downtown Salisbury before heading east on U.S. 52 to Rockwell and Powles Funeral Home.

A visitation at the funeral home is scheduled for 5-9 p.m. the next day, June 26, and a funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 27, at First Baptist Church in Rockwell, followed by burial at Brookhill Memorial Gardens.

Earlier plans called for a horse-drawn hearse to be part of the escort through Salisbury June 25, but the Air Force has asked that the special hearse, supplied by Sara McCubbins, be used June 27 instead to transport Morgan’s casket from Powles Funeral Home to the church and from the church to the cemetery.

Serving in the Air Force, Morgan, then 38, was part of a seven-man crew whose gunship went missing while on a nighttime reconnaissance mission along the Vietnam-Laos border March 13, 1966.

For years, he was listed as missing in action, followed by a military review board’s amending his status to presumed dead in 1978, when the family held a funeral service in Rockwell for him.

The crash site in Xekong Province, Laos, wasn’t located until 1997. According to the Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, between Oct. 21, 2010, and May 20, 2014, four joint teams from the United States and Lao People’s Democratic Republic excavated the crash site and were able to recover human remains, military equipment and aircraft wreckage consistent with the AC-47 aircraft Morgan and the other men in his crew were on.

In identifying Morgan, scientists from the Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency used “circumstantial evidence and dental records, which matched Morgan’s records.”

Today, the government agency says, there are 1,627 American service members still unaccounted for from the Vietnam War.

Morris was only 6 years old when her father went missing in 1966, and her mother was pregnant with Eddie at the time. Their mother, Beth, died in 1983.

Edwin Morgan Sr., who would be 87 today, also has sisters who survive, Wanda Leonard and Lena Morgan, along with four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Frances Morris and Eddie Morgan Jr. will be leaving on a commercial flight to Hawaii early next week so they can accompany their father’s casket back to the United States.

Morris and Matt Staton of Powles Funeral Home said it’s difficult to pinpoint an exact time the roughly 47-mile procession from Charlotte will arrive in Salisbury next Thursday. Their best estimate is around 1:30 p.m.

The procession will travel north on Interstate 85, exit onto Jake Alexander Boulevard, then travel down South Main Street through the Square. It will take a left off North Main Street onto West Liberty Street, a left onto North Fulton Street and a left onto West Innes Street before heading to Rockwell on West and East Innes streets and then U.S. 52.

The motorcycle escorts will stay with the hearse and family all the way to Rockwell, Staton said.

At his death, Edwin E. Morgan was assigned to the 6252nd Combat Support Group and was loadmaster on the AC-47D aircraft that flew out of Da Nang Air Base in Vietnam on March 13, 1966.

The air base lost radio contact with the gunship, which never returned. U.S. search teams tried to find the crash site in Vietnam and Laos in 1992 and 1996 but were not successful.

Edwin Morgan Sr. had attended Rockwell High School before enlisting in the Navy in 1945 as a 17-year-old. He served in the Navy from 1945-49 and the Army from 1949-55 before enlisting in the Air Force.

After his death, he was awarded the Purple Heart, the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal. Representatives of the U.S Air Force will provide graveside rites for Morgan June 27, as they did in 1978.

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.