PEOPLE--UNITED STATES

Lieutenant Commander Nathan G. Gordon, USNR, (1916-2008)

Nathan Green Gordon was born on 4 September 1916 in Morrilton, Arkansas. He graduated from the University of Arkansas and practiced law before enlisting from that state in the U.S. Naval Reserve in May 1941. In February 1942, following flight training at the Naval Reserve Aviation Base at New Orleans, Louisiana, and at Naval Air Station, Jacksonville, Florida, he was designated a Naval Aviator. Commissioned an Ensign the next month, he had additional training with the Atlantic Fleet's Transition Training Squadron then reported in the summer to help fit out Patrol Squadron Thirty Four. In March 1943, he was promoted to Lieutenant Junior Grade and became the squadron's patrol plane commander.

On 15 February 1944, while serving as Commander of a Catalina Patrol Plane, Gordon responded to a report of personnel from the United States Army Fifth Air Force shot down over Kavieng Harbor in the Bismarck Sea. Risking his life and under Japanese fire, he made a daring mission rescuing fifteen service members from certain death or capture by the enemy. For his "extraordinary heroism" on this occasion, Gordon was awarded the Medal of Honor. After a promotion to Lieutenant that summer, he returned to the United States and had brief tours in succession at Naval Air Station, Alameda, California and at Naval Air Station, Jacksonville, Florida.

For his last duty station, Gordon reported to Naval Air Station, Anacostia, Washington, D.C. In August 1945, he was relieved from active duty but remained in the reserves, where he was promoted to Lieutenant Commander in June 1946. In the same year, Gordon was elected to Lieutenant Governor of Arkansas, where he served for nine consecutive terms. In October 1954, he was honorably discharged from the reserves. He retired from office in 1967 and returned to his hometown to practice law. Nathan G. Gordon died on 8 September 2008 and is buried at Elmwood Cemetery, Morrilton, Arkansas.

This page features the only images we have concerning Nathan G. Gordon.

Photo #: NH 106207

Lieutenant Junior Grade Nathan G. Gordon, USNR


Nathan G. Gordon was later awarded the Medal of Honor for "extraordinary heroism" while serving as Commander of a Catalina Patrol Plane that rescued fifteen United States Army Fifth Air Force service members shot down in combat over Kavieng Harbor in the Bismarck Sea, 15 February 1944.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, Naval History and Heritage Command collection

Online Image: 66KB; 565 x 765 pixels

 
Photo #: NH 86383

Lieutenant Nathan G. Gordon, USNR


Halftone reproduction of a photograph, copied from the official publication "Medal of Honor, 1861-1949, The Navy", page 194.
Nathan G. Gordon was awarded the Medal of Honor for "extraordinary heroism" while serving as Commander of a Catalina Patrol Plane that rescued fifteen United States Army Fifth Air Force service members shot down in combat over Kavieng Harbor in the Bismarck Sea, 15 February 1944.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph

Online Image: 59KB; 580 x 765 pixels

 
Photo #: NH 106206

Vice Admiral Thomas C. Kinkaid, USN
(right)
(Commander, Seventh Fleet); and
Lieutenant Nathan G. Gordon, USNR (left)

Shaking hands after presented the Medal of Honor at Seventh Fleet Headquarters on 19 August 1944.

Collection of Admiral Thomas C. Kinkaid, USN (Retired).

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph

Online Image: 80KB; 740 x 605 pixels

 


Medal of Honor citation of Lieutenant Nathan Green Gordon, USNR (as printed in the official publication "Medal of Honor, 1861-1949, The Navy", page 194):

"For extraordinary heroism above and beyond the call of duty as Commander of a Catalina Patrol Plane in rescuing personnel of the United States Army Fifth Air Force shot down in combat over Kavieng Harbor in the Bismarck Sea, 15 February 1944. On air alert in the vicinity of Vitu Islands, Lieutenant (then Lieutenant, Junior Grade,) 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 three separate landings in full view of the Japanese, and pick up nine men, several of them injured. With his cumbersome flying boat dangerously overloaded, he made a brilliant take-off 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 six more survivors, coolly making his fourth dexterous take-off 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."


For higher resolution images see: Obtaining Photographic Reproductions

To the best of our knowledge, the pictures referenced here are all in the Public Domain, and can therefore be freely downloaded and used for any purpose.



About Us | Privacy Policy | Webmaster | FOIA request | Navy.mil | This is a US Navy website