Glennon Moran - Granite City Ace
His 'Sight-Seeing' Is Tough on Nazis
By Virginia Irwin, for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 1945. Updated April 20, 2012.
Lt. Glennon Timothy "Bubbles" Moran, Granite City, Ill. fighter ace, set his P-51 Mustang down on the runway built smack dab through a field of wild poppies and fennel daisies, taxied up the dispersal stand, climbed out of his plane and said, "Sorry to keep you waiting." Quite as thought he'd just been around the corner for a beer and ham on rye, instead of on a heavy bomber escort mission to Leipzig.
He'd taken the big boys to Leipzig, all right. But on the way back, a little disappointed that there had been no enemy opposition, he had spotted an enemy airfield, and couldn't resist the temptation. "Sorry to keep you waiting," were his exact words, "but I just got a Heinkel III on the ground. That Heinkel III now brings Bubbles Moran's score up to 13½ kills in the air, three planes destroyed on the ground. He holds the Air Medal with three clusters, the DFC with one cluster and the reputation of being the best-natured, most polite and easy going guy who ever closed a hand around a gun trigger.
The son of Mrs. Margaret Virginia Moran, a widow, 2643 Iowa Avenue, Granite City, Illinois, Bubbles Moran was a freshman in the St. Louis University Law School when he became an employee of Uncle Sam. The youngest of six children, and orphaned before he was born, Bubbles worked his way through school by holding down a job at nights in the metallurgical laboratory of a Granite City steel mill. He did considerable wrestling in high school, won a greater St. Louis wrestling championship, was all Southern Illinois football guard one year, and as a member of the St. Louis University debating team, never lost a debate. Twenty-five years old, five feet, eight inches tall, Bubbles 170 pounds sort of goes with his good nature, but not with any preconceived idea of a fighter pilot. He adores his mother, is one of those people of whom you instinctively think, "There's one that's had a good bringing up."
He is tremendously proud of his brothers. One brother, Lt. (jg) George Moran, former Granite City lawyer, is in the South Pacific and has just been cited for heroism in the Marshalls invasion; a brother, John, works in the steel mill in Granite City; a brother, Cecil, is a civilian employee of the naval yards at Pearl Harbor; a brother, Jim, is in the navy yards at Bremerton, Wash.; and another brother, Norbert, is an insurance manager in Indianapolis. A sister, Mrs. Martin Schroeder, lives at Jennings, Mo.
By the time this article appears Bubbles Moran may be the proud possessor of the Silver Star. He was recommended for this citation after a recent mission. It was just routine stuff to Bubbles; but the Eighth Air Force seems to attach quite a bit of importance to this particular "routine."
Here's the way Bubbles tells the story: "It was on a mission over Germany and we ran into 109's and 190's in boxes of 50. I got separated from everyone else except my wing man. We attacked a box of 50 that were coming in on the bombers. I got one but I had to chase him to the deck. On the way up, I ran into about 40 more enemy planes that were going to attack again. I radioed their position over the Baltic Sea as going towards Denmark and then my wing man and I swung on back. I got one more, shot up another which my wing man finished up, and that's just about all there was to it." Just as simple as that, being one of two men to attack first a box of 50 enemy fighters, and then take on some 40 more over the Baltic Sea. Bubbles takes the attitude that if the Jerries won't stay up and fight, it's up to him to go "sight-seeing" when the escort phase of a bombing mission is over. The inclination to sight-seeing is what earned him the Oak Leaf Cluster to his Flying Cross, "for extraordinary achievement and heroism in aerial combat," which translated means that he destroyed and ME 109 in the air, went down to the deck and shot up nine Jerry locomotives on his way home.
On the day that I saw Bubbles, his record showed 105 hours of flying during 25 days in June, which once in this theater was half a tour of operations. On D-Day, he flew 13 hours all told; the next day he flew support to the ground troops and did considerable strafing. Now he flies bomber escort and dive bombing. But no matter what he does, he never gets back to the field on time.
In a lot of ways, mild-mannered Moran is the favorite guy of Col. Joe L. Mason's [352nd] Fighter Group, but occasionally his penchant for "sight-seeing" gets to the point where it's a bit hard on the nerves. Everyone tells everyone else when Bubbles straggles in from a mission that he's been out hunting locomotives, shooting up freight cars, strafing troop trains, or raising merry hell with Jerry bridges or railroad roundhouses, but occasionally it goes too far. Not long ago Bubbles came back to find an MIA slip all made out for him. "It sort of got me," he says, "to come back and find myself already listed as missing in action." Another time Bubbles fooled around so long "sight-seeing" that his crew had to tow his plane off the runway after he landed. He was completely out of gas. And as his squadron commander told me the other night in the mess, "What can you do with a guy like that?" and then answered his own question, "Nothing except return that calm smile of his and say, 'I'm glad you're back.' "