From those that were there… (3)

 

Richard Gordon, MP, 1942

Richard Gordon, MP, 1942

Richard M. Gordon was born and raised in NYC’s neighborhood called “Hell’s Kitchen” and when asked where he preferred to serve, the Philippines or Panama, he chose the point on the map farthest away from the ‘old neighborhood.’  Gordon was originally with F Company/31st US Infantry Regiment, but was transferred to help form a new unit, the 12th MPs, the only Philippine Scout Unit with both American and Filipino enlisted men.  He made a point to start his interview off with ___

“I was captured – I did not surrender.  Most of my fellow soldiers felt as I did – that we could not lose.  We believed it was just a question of when the promised reinforcements would arrive.  We were lied to – but by Washington, not by General Douglas MacArthur.

12th MP Brass

12th MP Brass

“We never knew defeat was imminent until our commanding general told us he had surrendered.  At the time, no one believed him, and when they found out it was true, many were in tears.  We felt we indeed had been ‘expendable.’  During a later prison camp session held by our Bataan garrison CO, MGen. Edward P. King, Jr., before he was shipped out to Mukden, Manchuria, he told us we had been asked to lay down a bunt to gain time.  The baseball metaphor was probably the best way to explain why we were there in the first place.

 

“Gen. Lough gave us the word of our unit’s surrender.  After hearing this, we camped in combat positions on Mount Bataan, known at the time as Signal Hill.  A small group of us went farther up the mountain, in an effort to avoid surrender.  Several days passed with no sign of the enemy.  Hungry and in need of provisions, Cpl. Elmer Parks [of Oklahoma] and I volunteered to drive down the hill to our last position in search of supplies.  Elmer was driving and I was riding shotgun in a Dodge pickup truck.  We gathered up a number of Garand M1 rifles and decided to go a little farther down the road.

The Mariveles, today

The Mariveles, today

“…we came upon a huge banyan tree, so large it served as a road divider.  As we approached, a lone Japanese soldier holding a rifle stepped out from behind it.  Elmer stopped the truck and we stared at one another.  The thought of attempting to run occurred to both of us, as did the thought of picking up one of the M1s.  But neither of us did a thing other than stare at the Japanese soldier.  Finally, he motioned to us to get out of the truck.

“At that moment, 10 -15 more Japanese came out of the brush.  They surely had us in their sights all the time.  These were front-line troops, scouring the area for enemy resistance.  They took turns hitting us with the butts of their rifles.  We were searched and any valuables we had – were taken.  On our way down the mountain I saw our battalion commander, Major James Ivy, bare from the waist up and dead with countless bayonet holes in his back.

Richard Gordon

Richard Gordon

“Walking down that mountain…where the road leveled off into the West Road of Bataan…That night was so dark and confused that I immediately lost contact with Elmer.  I assumed he had died.  I never saw him again – until a reunion 47 years later at Fort Sill, OK.”

Richard Gordon remained a POW until the end of the war, but continued his military career and retired a Major in the U.S. Army.  He is the founder of the Battling Bastards of Bataan Group.  Major Gordon passed away 26 July 2003 and is buried at Arlington Cemetery.  The information here was compiled from both the Philippine Scout Heritage Society and historynet.com

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updated Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Richard Bissette – Essey Junction, VT; (’42) US Coast Guard, WWII; (’46) USMC; US Army, Korea, Sgt. Major, (Ret. 34 combined years)

Walter Figg Jr. – Louisville, KY; US Army, WWIImilitary

Walter Geisinger – Springfield, VA; US Air Force, LtColonel, (Ret.)

Earl Knight – Yuma, AZ; US Army, WWII

James MacRae – Mount Prospect, IL; US Army, WWII, 14th Armored Div.

Irvine Mitchell – Hamilton, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 421748, WWII, pilot

James Schwantes – Mayville, WI, US Army, WWII

Kenneth Tobin – Kingia AUS; 5th Australian Army

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on December 15, 2014, in First-hand Accounts, Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 43 Comments.

  1. Richard Gordon–what a story! Sorry it took me some time to get to this, GP. I bet that was one shocking reunion in OK.

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    • Wouldn’t that have been something to see, eh? I had to add this story! [and believe me – I KNOW how hard it is to get to everyone’s latest post on time. No problem.]

      Like

  2. Great piece of historical military history.
    Both men can only be considered great military men, their perseverance and duty are heroic.
    That must have been a great reunion of Richard Gordon and Cpl Elmer Parks.
    Ian

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  3. Oddly now, there are people who are flocking to live in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood. Yet I understand his then thinking…

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    • Yeah, the name of the section kind of tells it all. I can’t imagine how rough back in the ’20s & ’30s for a kid, but maybe that’s what made him so tough! Thanks for coming by, Eric.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. A moving story, GP. A second thought, has there ever been any president who hasn’t lied to us about war? –Curt

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  5. I agree what a amazing story and can only imagine what they went through, Everett. So glad that they got to meet again at the reunion! I too liked the Beetle Bailey message!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hell’s Kitchen to Hell and back. I bet there’s not a dry eye on any reader when we reach the 47-year-reunion. We civilians often think in terms of family losses without comprehending the deepest bind these men forged with each other, and what those losses meant to them.

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    • Very, very true, Sammy. There have been many remarks on the reunion and brother would I have loved to be a fly on the wall there myself!! That line one of the main reasons I put that story in; thanks for reading it.

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  7. And I thought that sort of political treachery was new. I guess I’m still naive.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Heartwrenching story. So glad that reunion happened–it must have been quite a moment.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. A very moving story as most of these are – so glad that you’re sharing them. Cannot imagine some of the things these survivors say in such a matter of fact way – like his battalion commander being stabbed to death.

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    • I think they need to keep it that way – detached, like surgeons who eventually lose patients. If you took each one to heart you would be suicidal yourself and then you help no one. I don’t know if I’m explaining this properly, but it’s like he saw through the event – not AT it. I appreciate you making the effort to read these stories, Carol, Thank you.

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  10. Being betrayed by one’s country is inexcusable and to label any life as “expendable” is monstrous but then warfare is created in the bowels of hell. I was a history teacher so I did much research on the deceit conducted by some of the most popular presidents. So much lying and misinformation to the American people and the masses are sheep who willingly go along with what they are told as long as they can continue feeding their illusions. They can go about their lifestyles feeling safe and justified but never accepting the price that has to be paid to ensure their right to feel that way. FDR was a liar and he manipulated our entry into WWII. JFK was deceitful, arrogant, and immoral who brought us to the brink of nuclear war. He is heralded as a hero but Americans do not like to look into their history because there are too many skeletons hanging there. I understand tough decisions have to be made but when you take the time to read about the human factor, how combat affects a single person then you understand that the cost is far too great. I have always said that the leaders of the respective countries in conflict should be put in a room and let them fight it out so that thousands of lives will not be lost senselessly. Most Americans haven’t a clue what it takes to keep them safe and allow them to shoot off their mouths in ignorance but that does not stop them from expecting it when the time comes. Thank you for sharing this soldier’s story.

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    • My mouth dropped open as I read your comment – it was like re-reading comments I have left on blogs. I directed people to sites and books where they could learn the things they should know, but usually all I get in return is an argument. So many join in on the bandwagon of whatever the media tells them, they get caught up in ranting with mob mentality. That’s why here, I do my best to keep my opinions out of the posts. I want the reader to make up their own mind. Here in the comments I get to tell what I think – and in this one – I agree!! Thank you, Tina, for saying so clearly what I have been trying to say for years!!

      Liked by 2 people

  11. To read his words is so moving. I can only imagine that reunion 47 years later with Elmer…what they must have felt. Thank you for such a personal glimpse into that time.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Yes, I did a double take on this cartoon in the paper yesterday. This is first comic strip by Mort Walker I have ever seen making a political statement. I can’t decide which president was the biggest liar to the American people about war – Johnson, Nixon or Obama. The very little news coverage is insulting and at best the best film footage we get to see is some guy shooting a rifle at something in the distance, three guys riding in a truck or a few fellows walking by a house. The Miami Herald(and I suppose other papers too) published the prior day’s casualties in Vietnam every day. We have no Ernie Pyle’s these days.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Just keep them coming. This is real first hand history.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m very glad you’re enjoying them so much. I’ve been trying to show different aspects of the march so that there is not too much repetition. But, so many went thru the same ordeal….

      Liked by 3 people

      • We are utterly impressed with all your first hand information and great stories, GP Cox. The history lessons for generations to come, you deserve a decoration for your excellent work.
        Love, Dina, Klausbernd, Siri and Selma xo

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        • Thank you so very much! I do hope this information moves on into other generations and the memories of these men remain alive. I have people like you, Dina, Klausbernd, Siri & Selma, to thank for encouraging me through the rough times!
          GP Cox

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  14. Thrilling and courageous story

    Liked by 1 person

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