Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Army Air Corps and Marine Corps Veteran Morgan Vaux, who served as a radio operator and mechanic during World War II.
Morgan Vaux was born in July 1918 in Watertown, South Dakota. He graduated from Kenosha High School in Wisconsin in 1936. A year later, he joined the Civilian Conservation Corps and the U.S. Forest Service. In September 1939, Vaux enlisted in the Army Air Corps. He completed basic training at Chanute Air Force Base, near Rantoul, Illinois. He received technical training at Scott Field Air Force Base. He learned how to become a radio operator and aircraft mechanic and was assigned to the 39th Pursuit Squadron at Selfridge Field in Michigan.
In June 1941, Vaux received an honorable discharge, as he was set to volunteer in the American Volunteer Group (AVG) in China and Burma. He left the Army Air Corps as a corporal. Arriving in Burma, Vaux was assigned to the 1st Squadron, known as the “Flying Tigers.” He equipped the AVG’s P-40 Warhawks with radios. The unit’s mission was to defend the Burma Road, which was a supply route used by the Chinese.
Hoping to detect Japanese movement, the AVG sent Vaux to an early warning radio station in Lijang. On Dec. 20, 1941, a Chinese unit near Hanoi telephoned Vaux’s station as 10 Japanese bombers took off, headed for Chiang Mai. The interpreter assigned with Vaux interpreted the message, allowing Vaux to convey the information to the AVG. The AVG was alerted and intercepted the Japanese bombers, downing all but one of them and ensuring the AVG’s safety.
Living conditions at the station were poor, and Vaux contracted hepatitis towards the end of his stint. He was also bitten by a rat, leaving a scar on his arm. On July 4, 1942, Vaux was honorably discharged from the AVG. He traveled back to the United States over the next month and received a 60-day sick leave from the draft board to recover from his illness.
After recovering from hepatitis, Vaux enlisted in the Marine Corps in December 1942. He took part in a war bonds tour with legendary Marine aviator Capt. Joe Foss. Vaux was then assigned to Marine Bombing Squadron 413 (VMB-413). With his experience, he was designated as the squadron’s communications chief. Vaux spent most of his time island hopping in the Marines. He coordinated his unit’s radar night bombing of Rabaul in late 1943. After this, Vaux was sent back to the United States. He was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps on Sept. 27, 1945, reaching the rank of master technical sergeant.
For his service, Vaux received a Bronze Star, a Presidential Unit Citation, a World War II China War Memorial Medal, a World War II Victory Medal and an American and Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal. Vaux attended Lawrence University and graduated in 1949. After graduating, he worked for the Civil Service Naval Electronics Supply Office and the Air Force Materiel Command. Later, he worked for Delco Electronics for 27 years as a senior production and process engineer. Vaux died in 2010 at the age of 92.
We honor his service.
Do you want to light up the face of a special Veteran? Have you been wondering how to tell your Veteran they are special to you? VA’s #VeteranOfTheDay social media feature is an opportunity to highlight your Veteran and his/her service.
It’s easy to nominate a Veteran. Visit our blog post about nominating to learn how to create the best submission.
Veterans History Project
This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at http://www.loc.gov/vets/.
Writer: Nathaniel Scott
Editors: David Charles Deprez, Timothy Georgetti
Researchers: Alexander Reza, Alexandra Kaiser
Graphics: Kiki Kelley