Three generations of Hercules pilots

Retired majors David Morgan Jr., and Pat Morgan and Maj. David Morgan line up in their service dress uniform. All three generations of the Morgan family have flown the C-130 Hercules. Courtesy photo

Retired majors David Morgan Jr., and Pat Morgan and Maj. David Morgan line up in their service dress uniform. All three generations of the Morgan family have flown the C-130 Hercules. Courtesy photo

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- In 1959, the first C-130 Hercules aircraft made its maiden flight. Retired Maj. David Morgan Jr. flew in the second C-130 off the production line. Years later, Major Morgan's son flew the same plane at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. And 40 years later his grandson, Maj. David Morgan, 37th Airlift Squadron pilot, began flying C-130s.

Major Morgan, a 1997 U.S. Air Force Academy graduate, began his career flying KC-135 Stratotankers and transitioned into flying C-130s through the Air Mobility Command Phoenix Reach program. Both his grandfather and father joke with their son that it took him a few years of flying KC-135s before he could fly a 'real' airplane.

The mighty C-130 Hercules is woven into three generations of Morgans with stories, medals and photos.

Major David Morgan Jr., an 82-year-old Air Force veteran, flew a PT-17 Stearman aircraft, which is a biplane with an open cockpit. He said while stationed in Florida, he would fly low level over orange groves by his girlfriend's house. He would drop a rigged parachute using a handkerchief attached to a soda bottle to drop love messages to his girlfriend with plans for their next date. One day he noticed another plane watching his drop over his sweetheart's home and recognized the pilot as his instructor pilot who motioned for him to go to home base.

"I did not get that weekend off," recalled Major Morgan Jr. "I walked several tours to make up for that one."

Several years later in 1959, Major Morgan Jr. had another memorable flight when he was stationed at Okinawa Air Base, Japan.

All the C-130s were being evacuated because of a typhoon, he said. There was one C-130 left on the ramp that required an engine change. Before long Major Morgan Jr. noticed that he and his buddy, Capt. Robert Freaney, were the only ones left on the ramp. They made the decision to fly the C-130 with three engines. 

Hours later a horrible typhoon hit and destroyed most of the base's infrastructure. Major Morgan Jr. had saved his beloved Herc.

These stories and others were what Major Pat Morgan loved to hear growing up. He flew AC-130s and HC-130s throughout his career and passed his memories onto his son.

"I made sure he met some of the silent heroes I flew with," said Major Pat Morgan. "I would ask coworkers to write down what they believed about duty, honor and country and [I would] have my son read it."

Major Pat Morgan had several memories about flying his C-130 in Germany. He made history when he helped stand up the 39th Special Operations Wing at Rhein-Main Air Base.

Both father and grandfather are very proud their son is holding up the C-130 tradition in the Morgan family.

"I guess C-130s were my fate," said Major David Morgan. "I really like the diversity of the C-130 in that you can fly in formation, low level, with night vision goggles and land in short-landing zones."

Major Morgan said he was surprised how many flying opportunities are available to C-130 pilots.

"I have flown into seven countries in the past eight months," he said.

Major Mogan has several years of C-130 flying to look forward to as his sons; Lukas, 5, and Caleb, 3, are already picking out which C-130 airplane they are going to fly when they grow up.

With the new C-130J model, there very well could be a fourth generation of Morgan C-130 pilots.