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Birch, John Morrison

Date of birth:
May 8th, 1918 (Landour/Uttarakhand, India)
Date of death:
August 25th, 1945 (Xi'an/Shaanxi, China)
Nationality:
American (1776 - present, Republic)

Biography

John Morrison Birch was born May 8th, 1918, in Landour, northern India, the son of Baptist missionaries. At the age of 2, he went to the United States with his parents and grew up in New Jersey, Florida and in Macon, Florida. After completing High School, he elected to become a missionary. To this end, he left for Shanghai, China in 1940 to be stationed in Hangzhou in Japanese occupied territory.
At the time of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Japanese troops tried to arrest Birch but he fled and established a mission in the province of Zhejiang. When the Americans launched the Doolittle Raid in 1942, Birch offered shelter to many of the crews when they made their emergency landing in China. Doolittle informed General Chennault about Birch’s work and consequently, due to his knowledge of the Chinese language, Birch was enlisted as First Lieutenant. He was posted to 14th Air Force and later on entered service with the U.S. Office of Strategic Services (OSS). From his mission, Birch established a network of Chinese informers, providing General Chennault with necessary information concerning Japanese troop movements. On the Japanese surrender on August 25th, 1945, Japanese troops remained in charge of law and order security in large areas of China, until this task could be handed over to Chinese Nationalist troops. This led to various skirmishes between Chinese Nationalistic and Japanese troops on the one hand and Chinese Communists on the other hand. On August 25th, 1945, Birch led a group of American, Chinese Nationalistic and Korean persons in an attempt to reach a POW camp in order to give aid to Allied prisoners of war. They were held up by Chinese Communists. In the ensuing engagement, Birch was killed.
John Morrison Birch was also recommended posthumously for the Medal of Honor and the Distinguished Service Cross but both were rejected. He was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Medal.

Promotions:
July 4th, 1942: First Lieutenant;
?: Captain.

Career:
?: Lanier High School for Boys;
? - 1939: Mercer University;
?: J. Frank Norris' Fundamental Baptist Bible Institute, Fort Worth, Texas;
1940: Missionary China;
July 4th, 1942: China Air Task Force;
1943: 14th Air Force;
?: U.S. Office of Strategic Services (OSS).

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Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Captain
Unit:
14th Air Force, U.S. Army Air Forces
Awarded on:
July 17th, 1944
Legion of Merit - US Military
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Captain
Unit:
Special Operations, Office of Strategic Services (OSS)
Awarded on:
1946
Details:
2nd LoM received as oak leaf cluster.
Legion of Merit - US Military
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Captain
Awarded on:
November 1945
Details:
Posthumously awarded
Order of the Cloud and Banner
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Captain
Unit:
OSS Detachment 202, Office of Strategic Services (OSS)
Details:
Posthumously awarded
Distinguished Service Medal - Army (DSM)
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Details:
With 4 bronze service stars
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal

Sources

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