John Dean (J.D.) Moorman



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John Dean “J. D.” Moorman was born July 5 1913 in Stigler, Oklahoma, the second child of nine to Jesse and Nell (Tidball) Moorman. His father was a dentist and his mother a high school teacher of English and Latin.

J. D. attended Citizen’s Military Training Camp at Fort Sill, Oklahoma during July 1930. He held the rank of Corporal. In 1931, J.D. graduated from high school in Idabel. He returned to the CMTC the following two summers carrying the rank of Sergeant. During this time he also attended Oklahoma State University, enrolling in the School of Engineering for two semesters during 1931-1932 and another semester the following academic year. He made the Dean’s list both semesters of his first year.

At the same time J. D. served in the National Guard of the United States and the State of Oklahoma, receiving honorable discharges in August of 1932 and 1933. He followed this with service in the Civilian Conservation Corps from October 1933 until June 1934.

In January 1934 J. D. was selected as first alternate to the United States Military Academy in West Point. While at West Point, he began to date Mary Elizabeth Kirkpatrick, who was living in Fort Monmouth, New Jersey with her brother Elmer E. Kirkpatrick and his family. In a letter home to his mother dated July 1937, J. D. referred to Mary using the nickname “Pat” and revealed they would like to get married after he graduated. He graduated in June 1938 and was appointed Second Lieutenant. He and Mary were married at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey on June 15, 1938.

Following a honeymoon summer at the Kirkpatrick family cabin in Green Mountain Falls, Colorado, J. D. reported to Randolph Field near San Antonio, Texas for flight training. He was in Primary Flying School from September 15, 1938 to May 25, 1939, and Mary was allowed to accompany him. He was then transferred to Kelly Field for Advanced Flying School, where he received his wings on August 25, 1939. J.D. then transferred to the Army Air Corp, 7th Reconnaissance Squadron and reported to Panama Canal Zone, France Field.

Mary was able to accompany J. D. and in 1940 their daughter, Claudia Nell was born in Colon, Republic of Panama. He was appointed 1st Lieutenant in the Air Corp on June 14, 1941 and that same year traveled to Venezuela before returning to the Canal Zone.

By October 1941 J. D. had been promoted to Captain. Following the December 7, 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbor, he was immediately sent to the United States Southern Command headquarters in Quarry Heights, on the opposite side of the Panamanian Isthmus. Families soon began to evacuate the Canal Zone, but, Mary and Claudia remained until January 1942. They only saw J. D. twice before returning to Oklahoma. Promotions for J. D. moved quickly, as he made Major in the Air Corp March 1, 1942. In May, J. D. received leave and, along with Mary and Claudia, he visited his family in Idabel.

J. D. returned to Panama by mid-June, and, along the way, was able to join Mary’s brother, John aboard the USS North Carolina when the ship was enroute to the West Coast. In October 1942 he returned to the United States as a Lieutenant Colonel and was assigned to the Air Base in Casper, Wyoming as Commanding Officer of the 331st Bomb Group.

By late February 1943, J. D. was assigned as Commanding Officer to the Air Base in Dyersburg, Tennessee, where final training for overseas combat of the B17 units took place. In September of that John Michael, was born in nearby Ripley, Tennessee where J.D., Mary, and Claudia were living.
In November J. D. and Mary took a short vacation to New York to spend Thanksgiving with Mary’s older brother Elmer and his wife. While there they stayed in the Astor Hotel and attended the musical, Oklahoma. They also were able to see another of Mary’s brothers, Claude.

Within a few months, March 1944, J. D. received orders to Italy where he would serve as Flight Commander at the Mediterranean Group Headquarters, 2nd Bomb Group of 15th Air Force. In September he transferred to the 301st Bomb Group, flying B-17 missions. He soon became Senior Pilot and Deputy Wing Commander and was promoted to Colonel.

On December 8, 1944 around ten in the evening, J. D. was killed instantly when an insulator from a telephone pole was blown down by 50 mph winds, striking him on the head. J.D. was traveling in a jeep with his Group Operational Officer Les Holman from Foggia and Lucera, Italy.

According to his flight records, J.D. completed one final flight the day before he died. At his request, he was buried in a military cemetery in Bari, Italy. Later he was interred at the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery and Memorial in Nettuno, Italy.

A special ceremony was held August 7, 1945 at Peterson Field, Colorado Springs, Colorado, presenting posthumous awards of J. D.’s service medals to Mary and Claudia, with four year old Claudia being pinned with the medals. The decorations included the Distinguished Flying Cross, with the citation stating “for extraordinary achievement in aerial flight as pilot of a B-17 type aircraft.” It also stated, “On 18 November 1944 Col. Moorman led a wing formation on a bombing mission against vital enemy strategic installations in Austria.”