Oscar J. Morel Jr.

  • Lieutenant Colonel
  • WW II


LTC Oscar J. Morel was born in Woonsocket, Rhode Island on 12 January 1921.  He attended Woonsocket High School where he was a member of the Football Team, French Club, and the Manager of the Basketball Team.  He entered Rhode Island State College (RISC) in September 1939 with the class of 1943 majoring in Agriculture.  Oscar was active in the Theta Chi Fraternity, Polygon (Interfraternity Governing Body), and participated in the Army ROTC Program while a student.

On 3 March 1942, Oscar Morel enlisted in the United States Marine Corps.  As a Private First Class, he entered the Marine Corps Officer Candidate Class where he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant.  His first assignment was a Platoon Commander with the Regimental Weapons Company, 25th Marines, 4th Marine Division.  

The 4th Marine Division landed on the island of Saipan 15 on June 1944. The more than 2,000 casualties suffered in the first two days of the battle are an indicator of the ferocity of the combat on Saipan. The island was secured after twenty-five days of combat. The 4th Marine Division sustained 6,000 casualties. This represented over 27 percent of the Division’s strength. Japanese casualties were estimated at 24,000 dead. The Fighting Fourth’s reward was a mere two-week break before assaulting the beach at Tinian.  Lt. Morel received the Bronze Star with ā€œVā€ Device for ā€œGallantry and Heroic Actions in combat against the enemy on Saipan and Tinian Islands, Marianas Group from 15 Jun-1 Aug 1944.ā€  The 4th Marine Division was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for their actions during these two heroic battles. 

On 19 February 1945, the 4th Marine Division conducted an Amphibious Landing on the island of Iwo Jima.  After 26 days of combat, the island was declared secure.  The 4th Marine Division’s casualties numbered half the Division’s strength. An estimated 9,000 Japanese had been killed.   

On 21 February 1945, Lt. Morel was Wounded in Action and evacuated from Iwo Jima.  He received a Purple Heart.  His wounds were serious but did not prevent him from serving 26 years in the United States Marine Corps.  He served in key leadership positions in Japan, Guam and Twenty-nine Palms during the remainder of his career.  He spent his retirement living a quiet life with his wife Mary and children John and Junie in Tennessee.  Lieutenant Colonel Oscar J. Morel Jr. died on 18 May 2004 in Birmingham, Alabama at the age of 83. 

A military funeral was held on 21 May 2004 at Oak Forest Memorial Gardens Cemetery in Shelby County, Tennessee.  Lt. Col. Morel, USMC, answered the call to serve his nation with courage and honor during World War II.