From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Alfred Gordon '39

Date of birth: April 8, 1915

Date of death: November 18, 1951

Age: 36

Lucky Bag

From the 1939 Lucky Bag:


Alfred was lost when his AD-2 Skyraider's engine caught fire shortly after takeoff on November 18, 1951. He unsuccessfully attempted to bail out at low altitude; his remains were recovered.

From Kansas City Times on November 21, 1951:

OFFICER DIES IN KOREA ACCIDENT IS FATAL TO LIEUT. COL. ALFRED N. GORDON, 36. No Details Are Received by Parents of the Marine Squadron Commander — Lieut. Col. Alfred Nelson Gordon, 36, son of Mr. and Mrs. Fred M. Gordon, De Soto, Johnson County, died Sunday in an accident in Korea. Details were not included in the information received by his parents. Colonel Gordon was a squadron commander and had been in Korea since October 23. Previously he was a wing commander at the El Toro marine base in California. In World War II Colonel Gordon completed ninety-nine missions in the Southwest Pacific. He commanded the Flying Deuces, a marine fighter squadron, and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. A native of De Soto, Colonel Gordon was graduated from the high school there in 1934. He received his commission after attending the United States Naval academy at Annapolis. He earned his appointment through a high scholastic standing in a year at the University of Kansas and was not required to take an entrance examination. Also surviving are his wife, Mrs. Lee Gordon, a son, James Bruce Gordon, and a daughter, Barbara Sue Gordon, of the home in Santa Ana, Calif., and four sisters, Miss Ruth Gordon, 3721 Wyoming street; Mrs. Grace Ross, De Soto; Mrs. May Alexandre, Cliicago, and Mrs. Bernice Clapperton, Venice, Calif.

He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. (Note the summary is incorrect; he was not shot down.)


Alfred, as a Major, was commanding officer of Marine Fighting Squadron (VMF) 222 from 5 Nov 1943 to 5 May 1944.

Also as a Major, Alfred had command of Marine Night Fighting Squadron VMF(N) 531 from 16 Mar 1945 - 9 Apr 1945. He had command of that same squadron later in the year, now as a LtCol, from 2 Oct 1945 - 27 Dec 1945.

He later had command of Marine Night Fighting Squadron VMF(N) 533 from 5 Sep 1946 - 10 May 1948.

Silver Star

From Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Silver Star (Posthumously) to Lieutenant Colonel Alfred Nelson Gordon (MCSN: 0-5953), United States Marine Corps, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity as Pilot of a Plane and Commanding Officer of Marine Attack Squadron ONE HUNDRED TWENTY-ONE (VMA-121), in action against enemy aggressor forces in Korea on 11 November 1951. During a sixty-plane coordinated attack against a main enemy supply route in the vicinity of Pyongyang, Lieutenant Colonel Gordon flew his plane at a dangerously low altitude in extremely adverse weather to locate the target and led his flight of eleven aircraft in a daring glide bombing assault in the face of intense hostile anti-aircraft fire, effecting numerous cuts in the railway line and inflicting heavy damage on the area. With his mission successfully accomplished, he skillfully directed the rendezvous and retirement of his strike group and led the planes safely to base. By his marked courage, brilliant airmanship and steadfast devotion to duty throughout the action, Lieutenant Colonel Gordon was directly instrumental in the success achieved by his squadron and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

General Orders: Commanding General 1st Marine Division: Serial 2845 (March 5, 1952)
Action Date: November 11, 1951
Service: Marine Corps
Rank: Lieutenant Colonel
Company: Marine Attack Squadron 121 (VMA-121)
Regiment: 1st Marine Aircraft Wing

Distinguished Flying Cross

From Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Flying Cross to Major Alfred Nelson Gordon (MCSN: 0-5953), United States Marine Corps, for heroism and extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight as a Pilot attached to a Marine Fighting Squadron operating in the Solomon Islands and Bismarck Archipelago areas from 18 November 1943 to 19 March 1944. During two tours of duty, Major Gordon took part in numerous fighter sweeps, escorts and strafing missions over enemy strongholds, frequently encountering intense anti-aircraft fire and fighter plane opposition. On 3 and 10 February, during bomber strikes against Japanese airfields near Rabaul, New Britain, he destroyed one fighter plane and probably shot down another. On 18 March, his accurate strafing of enemy shore batteries enabled a sea plane to successfully rescue a pilot forced down at sea off Tawui Point, New Britain. His courageous conduct and superior airmanship contributed materially to the success of all missions and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

General Orders: Commander South Pacific: Serial 0057 (January 14, 1945)
Action Date: November 18, 1943 - March 19, 1944
Service: Marine Corps
Rank: Major

Memorial Hall Error?

Alfred is listed on the killed in action panel in the front of Memorial Hall. While not an obvious error, inclusion on the panel for crashes like this (incidental to combat flights) has been inconsistent across WWII, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.

Class of 1939

Alfred is one of 77 members of the Class of 1939 on Virtual Memorial Hall.