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May 28, 2021

Major Charles F. Morley, MIA-KIA Vietnam, WHS Grad, 156 Missions over Vietnman, DFC/Purple Heart, UCM and WHS Football Player


Charles Frank Morley (b. Feb 12, 1942, d. Feb 18, 1970)

Flew 156 Missions over Vietnam, was scheduled to return to the Unites States in March, 1970. Recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross DFC and Purple Heart.

Name: Charles Frank Morley
Rank/Branch: O2/US Air Force
Unit: 557th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Cam Ranh Bay, SV
Date of Birth: 12 February 1942
Home City of Record: Warrensburg MO

Michele Dixon was the grand daughter of Mrs. Helen Smith

Date of Loss: 18 February 1970
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 170600N 1060700E (XD070912)

F-4C Phantom II
XC 557 TFS, 12 TFW, USAF, Cam Ranh Bay hit by 37mm flak during a night strike about 10 miles southwest of the Ban Karai Pass

Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Category: 2 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: F4C Ref no:
Other Personnel In Incident: Thomas C. Daffron (Missing)

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 31 April 1990
SYNOPSIS: When North Vietnam began to increase their military strength in South Vietnam, NVA and Viet Cong troops again intruded on neutral Laos for sanctuary, as the Viet Minh had done during the war with the French some years before. The border road, termed the "Ho Chi Minh Trail" was used for transporting weapons, supplies and troops. Hundreds of American pilots were shot down trying to stop this communist traffic to South Vietnam. Fortunately, search and rescue teams in Vietnam were extremely successful and the recovery rate was high.  Still there were nearly 600 who were not rescued. Many of them went down along the Ho Chi Minh Trail and the passes through the border mountains between Laos and Vietnam. Many were alive on the ground and in radio contact with search and rescue and other planes; some were known to have been captured. Hanoi's communist allies in Laos, the Pathet Lao, publicly spoke of American prisoners they held, but when peace agreements were negotiated, Laos was not included, and not a single American was released that had been held in Laos.
The Phantom, used by Air Force, Marine and Navy air wings, served a multitude of functions including fighter-bomber and interceptor, photo and electronic surveillance. The two man aircraft was extremely fast (Mach 2), and had a long range (900 - 2300 miles, depending on stores and mission type). The F4 was also extremely maneuverable and handled well at low and high altitudes. The F4 was selected for a number of state-of-the-art electronics conversions, which improved radar intercept and computer bombing  capabilities enormously. Most pilots considered it one of the "hottest" planes around.
Capt. Thomas C. Daffron and 1Lt. Charles F. Morley were pilots attached to the 557th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Cam Ranh Bah, South Vietnam. On February 18, 1970, they were assigned an operational mission over the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos. Daffron served as the pilot, while Morley flew as navigator - the "guy in back."  During the mission, a fireball was seen on the ground which was presumed to be the downed aircraft of Daffron and Morley. Observers saw no parachutes and heard no emergency radio beepers. There was no clear evidence that the crew had safely ejected, but it was not known that they did not. Daffron and
Morley were declared Missing in Action.  Morley once wrote his wife of 5 years, "May you always wait for me, may I never keep you waiting again." Yet, over 15 years later, both wait. Morley is one of nearly 2500 in Southeast Asia, and nearly 600 in Laos who did notreturn from the war. Unlike "MIAs" from other wars, most of these men can be accounted for. Further, and even more significant, mounting evidence indicates that there are hundreds of them still alive in captivity.  Refugees fleeing Southeast Asia have come with reports of Americans still held in captivity. There are many such reports that withstand the closest scrutiny the U.S. Government can give, yet official policy admits only to the "possibility" that Americans remain as captives in Southeast Asia.
Until serious negotiations begin on Americans held in Southeast Asia, the families of nearly 2500 Americans will wonder, "Where are they?" And the families of many, many more future fighting men will wonder, "Will our sons be abandoned, too?"  During the period he was maintained missing, Charles F. Morley was promoted to the rank of Major.
Major Charles Frank Morley, USAF
KIA Vietnam - Phantom F-4 Pilot
UCM Mules Football Player
Warrensburg High School Missouri

CHARLES FRANK MORLEY is honored on panel 13W, Row 29 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

  • Date of Birth:2/12/1942
  • Date of Casualty:2/18/1970
  • Home of Record:WARRENSBURG
  • County of Record:JOHNSON COUNTY
  • State:MO
  • Branch of Service:AIR FORCE
  • Rank:MAJ
  • Panel/Row:13W, 29
  • Status:MIA
  • Casualty Province:LZ

See more at:
Last Known Activity Then Captain Morley was on a mission over the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos, serving on this flight as navigator, when the aircraft was lost under hostile conditions.
The remains of three Americans have been identified from the war in Southeast Asia and are being returned to their families for burial in the United States. They are identified as Maj. Charles F. Morley of Warrensburg, Mo. and Capt. Thomas C. Daffron of Pinckneyville, Ill., both of the U.S. Air Force. A third Air Force officer, once missing in action from North Vietnam, was also identified but at the request of his family his name will not be released. On Feb. 18, 1970 Morley and Daffron were flying a night strike mission over Khammouan Province, Laos, when their F-4C Phantom was struck by enemy anti-aircraft fire. The crew of the other aircraft in the flight reported seeing a large fireball erupt approximately one mile east of the target area. There were no responses to the search and rescue radio calls and no emergency beeper signals were detected. Four days of additional search and rescue operations met with negative results.
In May of 1993 a joint U.S./Laos team, led by the Joint Task Force-Full Accounting, interviewed several villagers in Khammouan Province who provided details about a nearby aircraft crash. Following the interview, the team was led to the crash site where they found wreckage and pilot-related items consistent with an F-4 crash. In July and August of 1995 a second joint team excavated the crash site surveyed in 1993. The team recovered human remains and crew-related items. A third joint team completed the excavation in October of 1995 recovering additional human remains and crew-related items. Anthropological analysis of the remains and other evidence by the U.S. Army Central Identification Laboratory Hawaii confirmed the identification of these servicemen. With the accounting of these three, there are now 2,057 Americans unaccounted for from the Vietnam War. Since the release of American POWs in 1973, the remains of 526 MIAs from Southeast Asia have been accounted for and returned to their families for burial with full military honors.
Memories, pain still fresh for families of missing Vietnam officers
By OSCAR AVILA - The Kansas City Star Date: 09/26/99
It's unclear whether Maj. Charles Morley and Capt. John Seuell knew each other. But in many ways, they lived the same life. Both grew up in small Missouri towns, graduated from Central Missouri State University, joined the Air Force and trained in Texas. Both were navigators in the Vietnam War. Both fell from the sky and were lost in alien jungles. For decades -- through Watergate, disco, Reagan, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Gulf War -- their families mourned. In different ways. In a Warrensburg apartment, Josephine Morley still sheds tears as she sits in a rocking chair and her son's memory invades her mind. In a farm home near Wheeling, Austin and Maxine Seuell plan new ways to create a positive legacy for their fallen son.  The families never allowed themselves to forget. And they never built too much hope that their sons' remains would be found.  Meanwhile, the Defense Department searched for Morley, Seuell and others missing in action.  Surrounded by pictures Josephine Morley owns more pictures than her shelves and tables can hold.  More than 30 framed photos stand on the floor, sprouting like flowers.  Her eyes move past those pictures to one on a corner table.  She looks into the eyes of her son, Charles.  Her hair has grayed, but Charles is a son frozen in time. "I look at that picture and think, `What a handsome young man,' " she said. He was a sports star at Warrensburg High School and played football at Central Missouri State, where he married his high school sweetheart.  He enlisted in the Air Force and soon was sent overseas.  Morley says she created a world where Vietnam didn't exist.  She avoided television reports and newspaper articles about the subject. When Charles wrote, he never mentioned the fighting.  "He wrote me like he was off at school and nothing else," Morley said. "I think he wanted to keep that part of his life from me."  Then came the news that her son's aircraft had been shot down, two days before he was scheduled to return home.  According to Pentagon files, Morley and his pilot left a South Vietnamese base on Feb. 18, 1970, for a night bombing mission over Laos.  Anti-aircraft fire hit their plane. Witnesses reported seeing a large fireball on the ground about a mile east of the target. Josephine Morley has erased nearly all memories of the day she was told of her son's disappearance. She doesn't remember how many Air Force men came to her family's home, what they said or who was with her.  She doesn't even recall whether it was day or night. As Morley discussed her son, she held his picture. Occasionally, she stroked the surface like a mother caressing a baby. She tries, as much as she can, to keep Charles out of her mind. Another son, who lives in Belton, and Charles' widow dealt with the Pentagon.  "I just try not to think about him," she said, shaking her head. "I try not to think. That's what I've always done."  Over the years, Morley avoided movies and documentaries about Vietnam. She assumed that the government had stopped searching for her son. Meanwhile, the local high school built a memorial and dedicated a scholarship to him.
"When he left, I told him to trust in the Lord and we'd have to do what He said," Morley said. "It didn't make much of a difference if they found him. It really didn't matter. I knew where he was. He was in heaven."
Morley found
After months of analysis, the Defense Department in August officially identified a set of human remains as Charles Frank Morley. His Pentagon files show the clues that led to the answer: interviews with a village chief in Laos, maps of crash sites, the recovery of survival kits, several excavations in the countryside. Josephine Morley always said it didn't matter whether they found her son. But when she heard the news, she was surprised at how she felt.  "It's easier now," she said. "I don't know why, but it is. It helps to know what happened to him and why. It's closure." In a few weeks, Morley and other relatives will attend a ceremony at  Arlington National Cemetery. Bob Necci, chairman of the National POW/MIA Committee for the Vietnam Veterans of America, says the Joint Task Force's efforts have given hope to thousands of families. Necci credits the task force's persistence and the cooperation of Vietnam, Laos and other nations. But the work won't be easy. Necci says U.S. and foreign governments lack the staffing and money to expand their efforts. Meanwhile, terrain changes, vegetation grows and witnesses die.  So thousands of families continue to wait.To reach Oscar Avila, Missouri correspondent, call (816) 234-4902 or send e-mail to oavila@kcstar.

Charles Frank Morley was born on February 12, 1942.  He was the son of Samuel and Josephine Morley. He had three brothers: Don, Sam, and Gary. Morley attended Warrensburg High School and Central Missouri State University (UCM).  He was a three-season member of the Mules football team. Upon graduation, Morley married Michele Dixon, a Warrensburg girl living with her grandmother.  They had both gone through the Warrensburg School District and CMSU together. Michele was a pre-law major.  They had no children.

    On February 18, 1970 Charles Morley, then a first lieutenant in the U.S.  Air Force disappeared while flying as a navigator over the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Khammouane province in Laos.  It was his 156th mission during the Vietnam War.  Morley was scheduled to return home in March, but never made it. When the jet went down witnesses had seen no signs of parachutes and no emergency radio calls had been made.  Charles Morley was listed as Missing In Action.  It is now known that he died when his F-4C Phantom jet was struck by enemy anti-aircraft fire and crashed.  The remains of Charles Morley and Capt.Thomas C. Daffron were recovered from the wreckage in 1995 by American search teams. 
Rose’s Gang
By Jeff Germer
Have you ever noticed the F4E Phantom II on display at the Main Gate of the Jefferson Barracks National Guard Base? I’ve always liked the aggressive “nose down” look of the F4 and the distinctive tail with the traditional tail fin but canted horizontal planes. The JB Phantom sports a Vietnam-style camouflage paint scheme with a set of “tigers teeth” painted just below the nose. Just above the “teeth” is nose art that reads “Rose’s Gang”. 
During one of my visits to see Virginia Todd, AFNG Ret., who works at the Jefferson Barracks National Guard base, we happened to discuss the F4E Phantom display and I asked what “Rose’s Gang” referred to. Ginnie indicated that it was the original name of the plane of the crew to which JB’s F4 is 
dedicated. A few days later Ginnie emailed me a copy of the June 7th, 2003 plane dedication ceremony and an internet article about Major Charles F. Morley. 
(Left: Capt. Thomas C. Daffron; Right: 1st Lt. Charles F. Morley) 
The original crew of “Rose’s Gang” was Captain Thomas C. Daffron (Pilot), from Pinckneyville, IL, and 1st Lieutenant Charles F. Morley (Navigator), from Warrensburg, MO. Capt. Daffron and 1st Lt. Morley  were attached to the 557th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Cam Ranh Bay, South Vietnam. On the night of  February 18, 1970, they were assigned a night bombing mission over the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos. The 
“Trail” served as North Vietnam’s main supply artery into South Vietnam by taking advantage of Laos’ “neutral status”. During the mission anti-aircraft fire hit their plane and later a fireball was “seen on the ground” by separate observers which was presumed to be the downed aircraft (F4C, Tail # 7671). Observers reportedly saw “no parachutes and heard no emergency radio beacons.” Due to the sketchy nature of the 
reports, the U.S. Air Force concluded that there was no clear evidence whether the crew ejected safely or not. Both crew members were then listed by the U.S. Air Force as Missing-In-Action for 29 years. In August of 1999, their remains were finally positively identified, via DNA testing, by the U.S. Army Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii. Both men had finally “come home”. The path to identification started in 1993, some 23 years after “Rose’s Gang” went down, when a joint U.S./Laotian Team, led by the Joint Task Force-Full Accounting, interviewed several villagers in Khammouan 
province. These villagers provided details about an airplane crash site nearby and led the Team to the location. The wreck and pilot-related items were identified as consistent with an F4 aircraft. In 1995, a second Joint Team excavated the crash site. The second Team recovered human remains and crew-related items including both pilots’ survival kits. On what would have been Capt. Daffron’s 56th birthday (September 25, 1999), the Pinckneyville native’s remains were interred in the Sunset Memorial Cemetery. Major Morley (who was promoted while considered MIA) was interred in Arlington National Cemetery in 1999. Both men were honored by their hometowns in separate ways. The Pinckneyville, IL American Legion named its post in Daffron’s honor while Warrensburg, MO built a memorial for Morley at the local high school, and dedicated a scholarship in his honor. On June 7th, 2003, the 157th Air Operations Group, Missouri National Guard dedicated the refurbished plane to Capt. Daffron and Major Morley. 
Rose's Gang F4E Phantom
Prior to the dedication, Guard volunteers painstakingly restored the aging plane. During the restoration process, someone suggested dedicating the plane to a crew that had flown in one. A National Guardsman at that time, Dan Crafton, suggested honoring Capt. Daffron and Maj. Morley as the original crew of “Rose’s Gang”. So where did the plane get its name? Guardsman Crafton just happened to be friends with John Daffron, the brother of Thomas Daffron. John Daffron related a story to Crafton about when Tom, John, and several Daffron family members ran out of gas while coming home one night from a Christmas celebration. Dressed in clean white shirts, the men walked up the road in search of fuel. When they finally found a man who was willing to help, he told them he had first thought they were all part of a gang. Rose Daffron was the name of the boys’ mother, and they laughed about being in “Rose’s Gang” that night. So the next time you’re driving past the Base take the time to remember two men who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. It’s fitting that we remember them. 


PINCKNEYVILLE - On Feb. 18, 1970, Captain Thomas C. Daffron and Major Charles F. Morley flew their F-4 Phantom II fighter high and lightning-fast through the skies. They were on a mission, a mission for their country.
But something went horribly wrong.
There were reports of a fireball, and later, no sign of the plane nor any survivors.
Daffron and Morley were in a war zone in Khammouan Province along the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos when they went down. The pair was listed as missing in action. And as hostilities continued for many years, friends and family hoped for the best but feared the worst.
Finally, tensions eased a bit between countries and searches for missing Americans were allowed.
The remains of the fighter pilots were eventually located in October 1995, but not positively identified until July 1999 through DNA testing.
The search was finally over.
On what would have been Daffron's 56th birthday, the remains of the Pinckneyville native were returned home to Perry County, where they were buried in Sunset Memorial Cemetery.
Although more than 30 years have passed, Daffron and Morley have not been forgotten. And at 2 p.m. on June 7, a camouflage F4C Fighter - much like the one the men were flying on their final mission - will be dedicated in their honor in a special ceremony at Jefferson Barracks.
The 157th Air Operations Group of the Missouri National Guard will unveil the plane bearing the names of Daffron and Morley. Plans also call for the plane to be marked with the name that their aircraft bore, "Rosie's Gang."
John Daffron of Red Bud, chuckled as he recalled the origin of the name on his brother's aircraft.
One night John, Tom and some other family members were coming home from a Christmas celebration when they ran out of gas in the tiny community of Lively Grove. They were quite a sight as they trudged along the road in search of fuel. All of them were wearing white dress shirts. When they finally found a man who was willing to help, he told them he had first thought they were all part of a gang.
"Rose was our Mom's name, so we all laughed about being Rosie's gang," John said.
That family joke will now live on, painted on the side of the plane that will remain on display inside the front gates of Jefferson Barracks.
"It's an honor," said Odell Stevenson of Pinckneyville, Daffron's oldest sister. "After 30 years, it's nice that they still want to do something to remember those boys that lost their lives."
"It's really great that (the plane) will have his and Charles' names," John Daffron said. "That's an honor and a privilege. We've got 2,000 men and women still listed as missing in action."
Dan Crafton of the Missouri Air Guard said the plane was already on site at the 157th, but it was slowly rusting. Guard members had decided the plane should be restored and preserved for future generations to see and appreciate. Then, someone mentioned that it would be nice if the plane could be dedicated in honor of someone who flew in one.
Crafton and John Daffron are friends, and Crafton quickly suggested that the two Midwesterners who died so many years ago for their country would be the perfect honorees. Guard members agreed, and plans for the ceremony blossomed.
The featured speaker will be Sanford "Sandy" McDonnell, former CEO and President of McDonnell-Douglas, manufacturer of the F4.
McDonnell was the project manager for the F4 project. Widows Michele Morley, now of Sacramento, Calif., and Carole Thomas Daffron, now of Chicago, will attend, along with countless family members and friends
The VFW and American Legion of Pinckneyville, Du Quoin, and Warrensburg, Mo., will combine to present a special color guard. The Daffron-Presswood Pinckneyville American Legion has already honored Daffron and another local man, Vernon Douglas, lost in the Korean War, by naming their post after the local war heroes.
Other dignitaries will participate in the ceremony as well. Crafton said groups coming by bus will be allowed to park on the grounds with additional parking nearby.
When Daffron's remains were laid to rest on Sept. 25, 1999, his wife, Carole, eulogized her late husband as "the kind of person who did the right thing because it was the right thing to do, even if it meant personal sacrifice.
"It doesn't matter if it was 30 years or 30 years times 10, we will never forget," she added.
Now, it's a certainty that Daffron and Morley will live on, not only in the hearts of those who knew them, but as future generations see their names and ask about the men who gave their all.
Jefferson Barracks, MO  Major Charles Morley

Ward Bensen, Archie Matthews, Bill Bob Dyer, Wayne Saunders, Don Downing, James Everly,
Bruce Achauer, Keith Schrieman, Charles Morley
Warrensburg High School Missouri Football Players 1958

 Michele Dixon Morley
Established 1982 
The Charles Morley Sportsmanship Scholarship is available through the University of Central Missouri Foundation for a graduating high school senior of Warrensburg High School planning to attend UCM. This scholarship is made possible by way of a gift from family and friends of Charles Morley, ’67. 
Charles “Charlie” Morley was an outstanding athlete. Along with being a good athlete, he practiced top-notch sportsmanship. In football, Charlie could knock you down the hardest but would be the first one to give a helping hand back to your feet. For these reasons, the friends of Charles Morley established the Charles Morley Sportsmanship Scholarship. 
To be eligible to apply, a student must: 
 a. be a graduating senior of Warrensburg High School, Warrensburg, Missouri; 
b. be accepted to the University of Central Missouri; 
c. have participated in some type of sport during his/her high school career; 
d. have displayed a high degree of sportsmanship to opponents and team members while participating in sports at Warrensburg High School.
Charles Morley Scholarship UCM
Charles Frank Morley
United States Air Force
February 12, 1942 to July 24, 1979
(Incident Date February 18, 1970)
See the full profile or name rubbing for Charles Morley


Parents Gravesite
Samuel S. and Josephine W. Morley, Parents,
Memorial Gardens, Warrensburg, Missouri


Carol lawrence said...

I went to elementary and middle school with both Charles and his wife. In later years, I stayed a lot with my grandparents in Warrensburg, and often saw him and talked a little while. Charles was a quiet kid, but always stood up for anyone being bullied by others. There was one such incidence involving me, when I was in the sixth grade. I was knocked down by two boys, scrapping both knees. He helped me up, and was very angry, and went and had a word with the two boys. I never had a problem again. I have never forgotten that incident. Charles was a very smart athletic kid, and became a good and decent man. His loss was deeply felt by his family and friends. I became active in the MIA groups during Viet Nam, as well as supporting the troops. I have continued supporting active duty and veterans for over 40 years. It was all because of this man and all he stood for, patriot, decent, caring, and role model.

Wendy (Sivils) Hoskins said...

This was my cousin. Obviously I never knew him, as I'm only 39,but I got goosebumps reading this. Especially learning his name and seeing his picture. I'm so proud to be his relative, and I'm thankful to him for his sacrifice. I just wish I could have met him so I could tell him this in person. I am thankful to ALL of our Military and their sacrifices!

susan said...

Charles was my husband Stan Sivils's 1st cousin. Stan served in the Navy from 1965 to 1967 doing 2 terms during the VietNam war. His first was spent aboard the USS Hancock as a dental assistant & his 2nd was spent inland in VietNam as a Corpsman for a Marine recon division. He was always bothered by his cousin Charles not making it home & not knowing exactly what happened to him. He was very relieved when they found his remains & we attended Charles's memorial service in Warrensburg. we also found his name n the traveling wall & paid our respects when it was in Branson a few years ago. I hope to one day be able to take him to Washington DC to see the real Wall where he can touch Charles's name & find his gravestone in Arlington. A lot of credit goes out to Charles's widow Michele as she never
gave up on fighting to get his body home.