Monday, November 2, 2009
Marine Veteran Abie Gordon Dies: Veteran of WWII, Korea, and Vietnam
This appeared in today's Orlando Sentinel:
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He served in 2 great Marine Corps battles
by Jeff Kunerth
Sentinel Staff Writer
Bill Gordon spread his father's life as a Marine across the soft green felt of the pool table.
There was the replica statue of the flag-raising on Iwo Jima that sat on top of the television in Abie Gordon's bedroom at his Longwood home. And the two photographs of that famous flag-raising autographed by the two photographers who were on that island with Gordon on Feb. 23, 1945.
There was the framed proclamation of his service in the Korean War with the inscription on the bottom: "We Few, We Chosin Few, We Eternal Band of Brothers" that hung on the living room wall and the framed acknowledgment of his Purple Heart that adorned the hallway.
There was his father's dress blue uniform that hung in a garment bag in his closet with its rows of medals and block of ribbons from service in World War II, the Korean War, and Vietnam.
"These were things he got for doing his job," said Bill Gordon, 61, of Orlando. "From his point of view, in his eyes, I don't think he ever thought he did anything special."
Abie Gordon, the highly decorated Marine of 30 years and three wars, died Wednesday of complications from pneumonia. He was 89. His cremated ashes will be buried in Arlington National Cemetary with full honors.
Gordon, who joined the service at 17, saw action in two of the Marine Corps' most famous battles: Iwo Jima in World War II and Chosin Reservoir in Korea.
Iwo Jima was immortalized in the photograph taken by Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal and the Clint Eastwood movie Flags of Our Fathers. But Chosin Reservoir in 1950 is just as revered in Marine Corps lore for the 15,000 men who fought in sub-zero weather against 120,000 Chinese soldiers. The survivors became known as "The Chosin Few" and "The Frozen Chosin."
Gordon didn't tell his son much about either of those experiences, except to admonish Bill whenever he complained about his life being too hard: "Let me tell you what tough is - tough is fighting in 35-degree-below weather and outnumbered 10 to one."
Gordon enlisted in the Marines in 1938 and left in 1968, around the time his son, also a Marine, was fighting in Vietnam. Abie, in essence, grew up in the Marine Corps, finishing his high-school education in the Marines, earning his officer's rank on the battlefield, and leaving the service as lieuenant colonel.
In the process, he earned more than 30 ribbons and medals, including the Purple Heart for being wounded in Korea, the Bronze Star, and five Presidential Unit Citations.
"The Marines taught him everything he learned, and it was duty, honor and country," Bill said.
Abie Gordon raised his don by the code in which he lived: Right was right, wrong was wrong.
"It wasn't about his way or my way. It was always about the right way," Bill said.
Following his retirement to a home on a golf course in 1968, Abie Gordon had a seond career of sorts as a PGA-USGA rules official for 18 years. It was the perfect retirement job for him, his son said.
"He was a right-and-wrong kind of guy."
Abie Gordon also is survived by three grandchildren, Hannah, Nathan and Luke Gordon, all of Orlando.
Baldwin-Fairchild Funeral Home, Lake Ivanhoe Chapel, Orlando, is handling arrangements.
Jeff Kunerth can be reached at 407-420-5392 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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We extend our condolences to the Gordon family, as well as our gratitude for Abie Gordon's service to America.
Charles M. Grist