Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Morgan S. Freeman: A Man of Courage and Honor - Part 2

Very interesting closeup view of Martin B-26C Marauder.

Staff Sgt. Morgan S. Freeman in his WWII uniform c. 1943
Morgan Earl Freeman Collection: 2019.061.001
Ten days after the mission, The Shreveport Times printed the news that Freeman was missing in action. Then, on June 4, 1943, The Shreveport Times announced that two Bossier City soldiers were officially listed as prisoners of war by the War Department. The report listed Staff Sgt. Freeman as a POW of the German government and that he was “slightly wounded.”

By mid-July Freeman's, “parents received 18 cards and three letters from shortwave radio listeners in 8 states. These messages have all told of SERGEANT FREEMAN speaking from Europe and telling that he was safe, well and receiving good treatment. He told that he would soon be assigned to a German prison camp and would be allowed to correspond with his relatives,” according to The Shreveport Times, July 16, 1943.

That same month, Freeman sent a card to his parents, which did not make it to them until December. According to the Dec. 19, 1943 issue of The Shreveport Times, Freemans card stated, “that he had been out of bed a week at that date and asked that his family keep in touch with the Red Cross. He said that he was getting along well and was taking exercises. It is presumed that he meant he was taking exercise after being a hospital patient from May to July.”

Five months went by without any word on Freeman’s condition. Was he still in the POW camp, and how was he doing? Finally, his parents received a telegram from Staff Sgt. Frank Batterson stating, “Just arrived back in this country from prisoner of war camp where your son is held by Germans. His health is good and he sends his love to all.” Right after the telegram came, the Freeman’s received a letter from their son reassuring them “he was fine and had received their letters, packages and pictures.”

The Shreveport Times later revealed that in Freeman’s letter to his parents, dated May 24, 1944, he told them that Staff Sgt. Frank Scorsune of Bossier City had just arrived at the camp a few days earlier and caught Freeman up on the latest news of friends and family back home in Bossier City.

On April 26, 1945, The Shreveport Times announced, “Three Bossier City boys, MILTON J. DEVILLE, MORGAN FREEMAN AND FRANK SCORSUNE, were held prisoner in a German camp, Stalag 17B, which was among those listed yesterday by the war department as liberated by Allied armies.” This news was confirmed a month later when Freeman’s parents were informed directly by Freeman in a letter that “he had been freed from Stalag 17-B, German prison camp, and that he would be home ‘just as soon as I can make it.’ He wrote that he was in good health.”

Although the letters and the reports to the newspapers painted a nice picture of POW camp, the reality is that prisoners often did not receive the best treatment, and food was scarce. When Freeman enlisted in the U.S. Air Corps, he weighed 148 lbs., but after two years in the German POW camp, Stalag Luft 17B, he weighed only 80 lbs.

Freeman received an honorable discharge from his military service on Oct. 18, 1945, and returned home to Bossier City. George Dement introduced Freeman to Georgia McMillan, who he married in 1947. In 1948 their first and only child, Morgan Earl Freeman, was born.

Thanks to Freeman’s son, Morgan, we know that Freeman did not remember the crash,
and as a result of it, he suffered a leg injury losing some of his hamstring on one leg, and he
sustained burns. We also learned that he did not talk about his time overseas with just anyone;
most of what Morgan learned about his father’s time in the war was told to him by his mother.
Despite his injuries, Freeman never walked with a limp, and he worked as a self-employed
contractor installing flooring and countertops, a trade he learned from his father-in-law.

To learn more about Bossier Parish during wartime or to research Bossier Parish veterans
in your family, visit the Bossier Parish Libraries History Center at 2206 Beckett St., Bossier

By: Amy Robertson

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