b. 04/09/1916 Morrilton, Arkansas. d. 08/09/2008 Little Rock, Arkansas.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 15/02/1944 Kavieng, South Pacific.
Gordon was born in Morrilton, the seat of Conway County in central Arkansas, to Edward Gordon and the former Ada Ruth Bearden. After attending Morrilton public schools through the 10th grade, he graduated from Columbia Military Academy, in Columbia, Tennessee, in 1933, where he was salutatorian. Gordon then went on to college at Arkansas Polytechnic College in Russellville. While enrolled in Arkansas Polytechnical College, he enlisted in Battery D, 206th Coast Artillery, Arkansas Army National Guard. Following graduation, he attend law school at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. While attending law school Gordon joined Sigma Nu Fraternity and served as chapter president. He graduated with a Juris Doctor degree in 1939.
Gordon practiced law in his hometown of Morrilton before joining the Navy in May 1941. After qualifying as a naval aviator, he was sent to the southwest Pacific Ocean, where he would serve more than two years. He joined Patrol Squadron 34, nicknamed the "Black Cats", a PBY Catalina patrol and rescue squadron based at Samarai Advanced Seaplane Base in Milne Bay, New Guinea.
By February 15, 1944, he was a lieutenant, junior grade, in command of a Catalina, Bureau Number 08139, which he nicknamed Arkansas Traveler. On that day, Gordon rescued 15 survivors of several downed aircraft of the United States Army Air Forces, for which he was awarded the Medal of Honor . He was subsequently promoted to lieutenant, and served in the Navy until 1945, when he was released from active duty.
After the war, Gordon formed a business partnership with his brother, Edward Gordon, Jr., and returned to the practice of law in Morrilton. His political career began in 1946, when he was elected Lieutenant Governor of Arkansas under Governor Benjamin Travis Laney. He took office in January 1947 and was re-elected to nine more two-year terms, finally leaving office in January 1967. During his tenure he served under four different Governors: Laney (1945–1949), Sid McMath (1949–1953), Francis Cherry (1953–1955), and Orval Faubus (1955–1967).
For extraordinary heroism above and beyond the call of duty as commander of a Catalina patrol plane in rescuing personnel of the U.S. Army 5th Air Force shot down in combat over Kavieng Harbor in the Bismarck Sea, February 15, 1944. On air alert in the vicinity of Vitu Islands, Lt. (then Lt. j.g.) Gordon unhesitatingly responded to a report of the crash and flew boldly into the harbor, defying close-range fire from enemy shore guns to make 3 separate landings in full view of the Japanese and pick up 9 men, several of them injured. With his cumbersome flying boat dangerously overloaded, he made a brilliant takeoff despite heavy swells and almost total absence of wind and set a course for base, only to receive the report of another group stranded in a rubber life raft 600 yards from the enemy shore. Promptly turning back, he again risked his life to set his plane down under direct fire of the heaviest defenses of Kavieng and take aboard 6 more survivors, coolly making his fourth dexterous takeoff with 15 rescued officers and men. By his exceptional daring, personal valor, and incomparable airmanship under most perilous conditions, Lieutenant Gordon prevented certain death or capture of our airmen by the Japanese.
BURIAL LOCATION: ELMWOOD CEMETERY, MORRILTON, ARKANSAS.
(Plot 8A on corner of Street Q, Lot 10