An Introduction to "Finding Don Gordoni"
Some years ago, I was contacted by a man from Belgium, Kristof De Geyter, about my dad's connection to Don Gordoni. Don had been the radio voice of Jack Armstrong (the All American Boy). He lost that job when his voice changed, but he became a great singer. Assigned to my father's squadron, my dad and Don became best friends. He would sing to the men to help get them through the war. During the famous mission to Oschersleben, a German assembly plant, on July 28, 1943, Don was flying in the Liberty Bell. Unfortunately, his plane was hit. The crew tried to parachute to safety but pulled their rip cords too quickly and the parachutes caught on fire. My father was the tail gunner in the Rum Boogie flying next to Don and witnessed it all as it happened. My dad never talked of this incident to anyone in our family, and we were only made aware of it when we obtained a copy of Snetterton's Falcons where the run is described in some detail. I think this was just too painful a memory for him to ever bring up.
Don is currently listed on the Walls of the Missing in the Margraten American Cemetery in The Netherlands. Kristof has officially "adopted" Don's grave. He told me he did this because he wants to help keep the memory alive of all who made sacrifices during WWII because his grandfather used to tell him stories about the war. I had never considered how WW2 affected those in Europe, and this "way cosmic" connection between Kristof and I has resulted in me seeing the much bigger picture. Below is a photo of Don's gravesite, where Kristof often visits to caretake and leave flowers, as well as a link to my non-fiction story, "Finding Don Gordoni."