Augusta’s war heroes list has grown by one.
After extensive research in the past month, World War II air cadet Marion Wallace “Wally” Morgan will be added to a tribute on Riverwalk Augusta that honors the area’s most highly decorated veterans.
A bronze plaque bearing his name has been ordered for Heroes Overlook and will be dedicated during the annual ceremony on Veterans Day, said Russell Brown, an Augusta historian and a member of the Heroes Overlook committee.
Morgan was one of three veterans that Brown considered for inclusion on the wall after The Augusta Chronicle notified the Augusta-Richmond County Historical Society, which created the monument in the early 1990s, about three possible veterans missing from Heroes Overlook. Research was needed to verify their connection to Augusta.
The Chronicle became aware of the three veterans who were born or entered service in Augusta from author Doug Sterner, who curates a database of more than 200,000
veterans with military awards.
“We want to make sure we include everyone who’s eligible,” Brown said. “We also want to make sure those we do include have proper bona fides.”
Morgan joins 30 other names on Heroes Overlook, all of whom received the nation’s highest military honor, the Medal of Honor; the Army’s second-highest military decoration, the Distinguished Service Cross; or the second-highest honor for the Navy and Marine Corps, the Navy Cross.
Morgan was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross in 1944 for heroism during a bombing mission in European theater operations during World War II.
Of the two other veterans Brown researched, 1st Lt. James Albert Schwing was born in Augusta but did not spend a significant part of his life in the city. Cpl. Thomas A. Watson, who served in the Marine Corps Reserve, shares a name with another man in his battalion. Brown has not verified his Augusta connection.
After scouring yearbooks, newspaper archives, obituary listings, school transcripts and census records, Brown discovered that Morgan graduated from the Academy of Richmond County in 1937 and the Junior College of Augusta in 1939. His parents lived on Walker Street.
Morgan was born in Malone, Ala., in 1920 and died in Elmhurst, Ill., in 2007 at age 86. He graduated with a bachelor’s of law degree from the University of Georgia in 1947, but Brown is not sure where he went after that.
In its beginning, Heroes Overlook depended on local history curators who searched for local veterans with honors. The committee also asked residents to notify them of family and friends who were honored.
A second tier was built on the memorial several years ago to add plaques for three veterans the committee discovered. Extra
space was left in case more recipients needed to be added.
Brown said Morgan might have been overlooked until now because he was born in Alabama and lived in Illinois.
“We are happy we have found one,” Brown said.