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Decorated WWII veteran honored with museum exhibit

Maurice "Morry" Crow receives an award from Col. R. Baez Jr., commanding officer of the Rapid City Army Air Base, now Ellsworth Air Force Base, on Sept. 29, 1944.

COURTESY PHOTO VIA RAPID CITY JOURNAL

By ASSOCIATED PRESS Published: April 1, 2021

RAPID CITY, S.D. — A decorated World War II veteran from South Dakota celebrated his 101st birthday with a special honor at the Ellsworth Air Force Base near Rapid City.

A new exhibit about Maurice “Morry” Crow’s extraordinary military service was unveiled at the South Dakota Air and Space Museum on base Wednesday, Crow's birthday.

Crow said he was driven by patriotism when he enlisted in the Army Air Force following the 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He was a B-17 flight engineer and top gunner, completing 30 missions in the European Theater in 1943 and 1944, the Rapid City Journal reported.

Despite being wounded in combat and facing tall odds against the Nazi-German Luftwaffe, Crow not only survived, but was credited with an aerial victory against an attacking fighter.

Crow was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Presidential Unit Citation, a Purple Heart and received three Oak Leaf Clusters for his service. He returned to Rapid City, married his girlfriend Lucy Lang and never left the Black Hills. Lang died in 2005.

The Distinguished Flying Cross Society presented Crow as the Society’s latest lifetime inductee and gave him a medal for extraordinary valor in aerial flight. The award is one of the highest decorations for military service in the United States.

“Morry represents the essence of the DFC recipient and the selflessness of his generation, willing to give up his life for others. Our nation is built upon the service of strong individuals like Morry,” said Woody Gilliland, of the Distinguished Flying Cross Society.