San Diego County
|Death: ||Apr. 30, 1951, North Korea|
Morelli, a Native American, lost his parents and grandmother at age 9 to botulism. After their deaths he, along with his brothers and sisters, were put in an orphanage at the San Diego Mission. Several years later he was placed with a foster family in Escondido CA.
Morello joined the Army, when he was 19 years old and was assigned to Battery B, 15th Field Artllery Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division in Korea.
After several days of heavy fighting against overwhelming numbers of N. Korean and Communist Chinese forces, one of the largest retreats of the war by US/UN forces occurred.
Morelli's unit was part of that retreat. While attempting to reach the village of Hoengsong on the night of February 12, 1951, an enemy mortar round struck a truck towing a 105mm howitzer. The truck and 105 jacknifed, which blocked the road and only espcape route out of the area. Soldiers were forced to try and fight the rest of the way on foot in freezing tempetures, in what later became known as Massacre Valley. After heavy fighting the enemy abandoned Hoensong to US forces.
When Morelli's battalion reached the city of Wonju the following day, it was discovered that 340 men, including Morelli, were either dead or missing. Several weeks later Morelli's family was informed that he was missing in action. In 1953 the Army changed his status to Killed in Action, and he was posthumously promoted to corporal.
Also in 1953, Morelli's family received a letter from a soldier who was with him at the time of their capture, and when he died. The soldier informed the family that Morelli had been wounded during the fighing and died of dysentery at the POW Camp called Suan Bean from the lack of good food and water.
For almost 40 years Morelli's remains were in an unmarked grave near the former POW camp that he had died in. In May of 1991, the North Koreans turned over 5 boxes containing the remains of US service personnel, who had died during the Korean War. The remains had been recovered in 1987.
Initially Box #3 was incorrectly identified. Using DNA from his sister, a test on a molar, that were part of the remains, revealed Box #3 was Morelli. His remains were turned over to his surviving siblings for burial.
On November 5, 2011, Morelli was buried with full military honors at the Bloomfield Cemetery San Diego County California.
San Diego County
Created by: Randy
Record added: Oct 14, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 43091444