WWII: One Soldier’s Story

On September 18, 2009 by weswilson4

Pfc. David Gordon

I always wanted to interview a World War II veteran and have them tell me their story.  In 2008, Pfc. David Gordon was kind enough to tell me things that he had never told anyone before.  It was an eye-opening interview and one that will stay with me for a long, long time.

Mrs. Gordon listened from the kitchen, and she later confessed that he told me things he hadn’t told her in 64 years of marriage.  This interview is a tribute to those men, like David Gordon… and like my grandfather, who fought in World War II, helping preserve our way of life and saving millions more in Europe.

“Thank you” is not enough… but it’s a start.  Thank you.

Click here to see more from my interview with Pfc. David Gordon

Below is the interview that aired as a special feature on News 14 Carolina and ran on News14.com on July 4, 2008:

CARY, N.C. — The Fourth of July is a special day for many Americans. For Pfc. David Gordon, who is now 85 years old and a relic of a time that is slipping further into history, it means maybe even more.

Gordon fought the Germans from the D-Day beaches in World War II, preserving the independence of many nations. The Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial now overlooks the site where Gordon once fought, and the graves of 9,387 brave soldiers offer sobering reminders of the chaos that took place on the sandy beaches below.

“It was like a living nightmare and that was the beginning of it,” Gordon said. “The dead bodies, we had to step over them, which gave us a taste of what we were in for.”

Gordon said the training he went through was extensive, but nothing truly prepares you for the reality of war.

“You can hear about it or you can see it in the movies, but to experience it yourself, you really can’t describe it, the horror of it.”

Gordon enlisted in the Army when he was just 18 years old. Days after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, Gordon put college on hold and jumped in a car with five friends; they all enlisted. The Army assigned him to the 30th Infantry Division, and like most soldiers fighting on the front lines, death was just a cat’s whisker away.

Gordon’s five Purple Hearts are colorful reminders of the scars he still carries today, and his Bronze Star is a testament to the time taken away.

Now 64 years removed from the beaches of Normandy, Gordon’s home in Cary, N.C. is lined with pictures of a beautiful family—children, grandchildren and a memorable ballerina, but when he thinks back to his time in Europe, Gordon said he inevitably thinks about those who didn’t make it home, his fellow soldiers, his friends, whose lives were cut way too short.

“What I think of mostly often was seeing my buddies, seeing them killed… seeing them killed and the pain.”

But World War II was a “necessary war, period,” as Gordon says, and he would enlist all over again if he had to.

“Can you imagine if we were occupied by people like Nazi Germany, the SS Troopers, if we were under their control?” Gordon asked. “It certainly would have been worth even my death to have done something to correct that situation.”

While it’s hard to say what all soldiers fight for, it was quite simple for Pfc. David Gordon. He fought for the people whose names he didn’t know but whose faces he will never forget. Seventy million people died in World War II, including 40 million civilians, and Gordon’s stories of Nazi atrocities paint pictures of evil that movies don’t do justice.

“You can’t imagine people being so cruel and inhumane to other people. That’s what kept us going, fighting. I couldn’t feel sorry for myself. All I could do was wish we could have done more, could have saved more, could have gotten there sooner… Done more.”

But the men who fought and died on the beaches of Normandy did more than we will ever be able to thank them for.

Today is July 4, 2008.

Today is Independence Day, as is tomorrow and the day after that, thanks to men like David Gordon and rolling hills of unforgotten friends.

Click here to see more from my interview with Pfc. David Gordon, including:

  • How it felt to storm the beaches of Normandy
  • Why he considers himself so lucky… (Hint: a bullet went through his helmet… and he lived)
  • The atrocities of war
  • Sleeping at night when the sky lights up like the Fourth of July… every night
  • Why former President Harry Truman is and always will be his hero
  • His one wish for everyone each Independence Day

Package that aired on News 14 Carolina:

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