WISCREPORT.COM (10/20/07) - A man who became a World War II Prisoner of War after riding an airplane tail section to the ground because his parachute and body were riddled with bullet holes, is being honored for lifetime achievement. Eugene P. Moran of Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin was presented with the Wisconsin Board of Veterans Affairs Lifetime Achievement Award in a ceremony at the National Guard Armory in Platteville. After returning to civilian life, among other things, he served 20 years as Fire Chief, and 12 years as a Crawford County Board Supervisor.
“I’d like to say how proud the Wisconsin Board of Veterans Affairs is to present Gene Moran with our very first Veteran Lifetime Achievement Award,” said Board Chair Peter Moran. “Gene is a World War II veteran and former Prisoner of War who overcame severe conditions and came back to live an exemplary life of public service to Wisconsin citizens.”
Gene Moran was presented with an engraved plaque and a proclamation accompanying the award, noting that he was a B-17 Flying Fortress Tail Gunner with the 8th Army Air Corps flying bombing missions from England.
On Nov. 29, 1943, while on a bombing mission at 28,000 feet above Sandbostel, Germany, near Bremen, the tail section he was in was shot off the plane.
With severe gunshot wounds and a bullet riddled parachute, he rode the tail section down at the rate of 100 feet per second; he survived the descent but sustained a crushed skull when the tail section hit a tree trunk before crashing to the ground.
He was taken as a Prisoner of War, his life was saved by a Serbian doctor who was also a POW, and he was incarcerated in camps in Germany, Prussia, and Poland. He was relocated to a “Hell Ship” on the Baltic Sea, and survived a 600-mile forced march during a harsh 1945 winter. He was liberated in 1945, and honorably discharged later that year at the rank of Staff Sergeant.
Moran was awarded two Purple Hearts, the Air Medal with Gold Leaf Cluster, the European Theater Medal, and the Good Conduct Medal.
Eugene (Gene) Moran has been involved lifelong with various veterans organizations, served for 12 years on the Crawford County Board of Supervisors, 20 years as Chief of the Soldiers Grove Volunteer Fire Department, 22 years as a charter member of the Soldiers Grove Rescue Squad, and 30 years as a Fire Warden.
The Veteran Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes veterans who have compiled a record of exemplary service as a military service member, a veteran, and a citizen during the veteran’s lifetime. Joni Peterson, daughter of Gene Moran, submitted the nomination of her father.
The Board, through a subcommittee consisting of three of its seven members, appointed by the Board Chair, selects the recipients from nominations submitted from any Wisconsin resident, veterans service organizations, individual veterans, county veterans service officers, and other veterans groups.