Cool Things - Korean War Pajamas
While serving on the front lines in Korea, a soldier fell ill and was sent to a hospital in Japan. During his recovery, he mailed these pajamas home to his mother in Kansas.
Like many soldiers serving over seas, Master Sergeant Howard Morgan, Jr., kept in touch with his loved ones back home by sending letters, photos, and presents.
A veteran of World War II, Morgan reenlisted in the army during the Korean War (1950-1953) and again found himself on the front lines. At one point Morgan was forced to go without liquid for several days. When he finally did drink water, he became ill and was moved to a hospital in Kyoto, Japan. In a letter from the hospital to his parents in Topeka, Morgan wrote, "Say, Mom, I don't think the candy & nuts hurt me any. I'll tell you what done it. I drank water without purifying it. I was so thirsty I just couldn't wait 30 minutes."
In the same letter, Morgan described the medical treatment he would soon receive. He also expressed his concerns for his wife, Loretha (whom he calls by her nickname "Fee"), and family at home:
"Kind of dread Tuesday coming up. That is the day they stick me with the knife. You know I've always been afraid of doctors and knives. But I can take it. Won't be near the hell that I have been thru in the past five months. I was very much afraid that Fee & you guys would figure that I had been shot all to pieces when you saw the hospital address."
Later, while recovering from his illness, Morgan purchased two sets of embroidered pajamas. Each set contained a pajama top, pants, robe, and slippers with floral embroidery and fur trim in a matching box. Morgan sent the set pictured here to his mother, Anna, and the other to his wife. While Morgan's family doesn't remember either Anna or Loretha wearing their pajamas much, the two women did pose for a photo in Anna's front room (pictured at left). They must have taken great joy in a gift from their beloved husband and son serving his country so far from home.
When he first left Kansas for Korea, Morgan had taken along a camera with which to photograph his fellow soldiers and the landscape. He later wrote descriptions of the subjects on the back of each picture. In the photo to the lower right, Morgan relaxes with several of his buddies. He is seated at bottom left with pen and paper in hand. On the back he penciled, "Writing a letter to my loved ones."
Morgan's wife and two children eagerly anticipated his letters. In a photo sent to Morgan during the war, Loretha sits on her sofa with son, Mike, and daughter, Patty. Loretha wrote on the back of the photo, "We are reading a letter from you. Every letter we receive from you we sit down on the divan and I read it to the children. We love you so much, honey." Morgan carried this photo throughout much of his tour of duty.
The pajama set is in the collections of the Kansas Museum of History. Copies of some of Howard Morgan's photographs and letters are in the collection of the Kansas Historical Society's State Archives.
Entry: Cool Things - Korean War Pajamas
Author: Kansas Historical Society
Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.
Date Created: April 2005
Date Modified: July 2014
The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.