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Utterly selfless: A pararescue legend's legacy

Chuck “Cowboy” Morrow, 76, a retired pararescue specialist of 20 years passed away Jan. 23, 2019, at Baptist Hospital in Oxford, Mississippi.

Chuck “Cowboy” Morrow, 76, a retired pararescue specialist of 20 years passed away Jan. 23, 2019, at Baptist Hospital in Oxford, Mississippi. (Courtesy Photo)

Chuck “Cowboy” Morrow

Chuck “Cowboy” Morrow, president of the Pararescue Association and former pararescueman, displays the pararescue mascot, Chuck, at the 2016 Pararescue Reunion in Melbourne, Florida, September 23, 2016. Morrow is the recipient of three Silver Stars and five Distinguished Flying Crosses for his actions and service during the Vietnam War. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Dana White)

JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. --

Chuck “Cowboy” Morrow, 76, a retired pararescue specialist of 20 years, passed away Jan. 23, 2019, at Baptist Hospital in Oxford, Mississippi.

Morrow was remembered as a humble and generous hero in the guardian angel community who fought for the lives of others.

Morrow’s career in pararescue exemplifies the PJ motto, “That others may live.”

Wayne Fisk, a retired chief master sergeant and 17-year PJ, said the void he leaves is great.

Whether they were intense firefights or relatively benign rescues, Chuck approached the sanctity of their lives in the same manner: they were more precious than his,” Fisk said. “That is one of the lasting blessings of Chuck: he was utterly selfless.”  

For the guardian angel community, the brotherhood they share while wearing the coveted maroon beret is one that is forged through a continuous legacy of courage.

Morrow’s footprint is one that is recognized by others in the career field today, such as the command chief at the Special Warfare Training Wing, Chief Master Sgt. James Clark.  

“Chuck Morrow embodies pararescue and Air Force Special Warfare,” Clark said. “He boldly and fearlessly served his country, the Air Force and pararescue. When he confronted the enemy, he left no doubt. He’s an American-war hero, and he’ll be missed.”

Morrow enlisted in the Air Force in March of 1966 and retired on December of 1986 with an extensive history of service in Vietnam. While serving honorably as an example of the PJ legacy, Morrow received three Silver Stars, five Distinguished Flying Crosses and 22 Air Medals. 

Following just one of many of his exemplary acts of heroism he was awarded with a Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster in lieu of a second award of the Silver Star.

Morrow was recognized for gallantry in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force in Southeast Asia from April 26 1972 to April 27 1972. During that period Morrow penetrated into an extremely hostile and heavily defended area to effect the rescue of a downed American Airman. His professional skill in providing the effective ground-suppression fire required throughout the mission and his willingness, at great risk to his own life, to expose himself to hostile-ground forces from his open mini gun position, was instrumental in the successful completion of this most hazardous mission. By his gallantry and devotion to duty, Morrow reflected great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.

“They were hard fought for saves,” said Fisk.

After retiring, Morrow was actively involved and well known in the PJ community. He was the former president of the Pararescue Association and attended pararescue reunions where he took part in sharing stories and reminiscing on heroic missions. Morrow will be remembered as an Air Force legend.

Morrow is survived by his wife, Mary Humphreys Morrow of Holly Springs, Mississippi; two sons, Charles D. Morrow Jr. of Byhalia, Mississippi, and Bryan Humphreys of Chattanooga, Tennessee; a daughter, Robin Gordon of Hardy, Arkansas; his sister, Janice Kesler of Nashville, Tennessee; and seven grandchildren.

Larry Palmer, a former PJ and friend, also expressed his thoughts on the loss of a true hero.

“He never wanted the limelight," Palmer said. "He just wanted to do his job."


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