Walter S "Smokey" Gordon Jr was a Paratrooper in Easy Company.
Walter Scott "Smokey" Gordon was born in Jackson, Mississippi. He enrolled at Millsaps College around 1940, attending there for 2 years.
Due to colorblindness and flat feet, the Marines and the Navy had rejected him, so he joined the Army. Gordon enlisted on 10 August 1942 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as his father told him that 'if you enlist down south, you will train up north and vice versa'. He faked his way through the eye test and successfully enlisted.
Gordon's basic training was at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. His airborne training began in August 1942 at Camp Toccoa, Georgia under Herbert Sobel. Gordon's nickname 'Smokey' came from his tobacco-chewing habit during his time with Easy Company. During training, Gordon found that he needed more water than others, therefore in the field he began carrying extra Hershey's bars as a way to gain access to his comrades' canteens. Gordon and Paul Rogers loved composing poems to tease their comrades that had experienced some kind of mishap, and the victims would often explode in anger to their delight.
Gordon had served with Easy Company as a machine gunner. He jumped into Normandy in the early morning hours of 6 June 1944 and landed on a farm. He found other unit members shortly after. One week later, on 13 June, he was wounded in the arm and shoulder at Carentan, France. In the hospital, different groups of military upper brass visited the wounded soldiers and pinned Purple Hearts on the men's pillows. Gordon received his, but he unpinned and hid it, so when the next group came, they would give him another Purple Heart. After a while, Gordon had several medals. Gordon spent 8 weeks in the hospital and returned to Easy Company. Darrell "Shifty" Powers recalled one time Gordon gave his last cigarette to Talbert, but charged him a dime for a match. When Gordon found out that Talbert was disqualified from receiving Purple Heart for a wound received when Tab was mistakenly bayoneted by another Easy Company trooper, he put together a makeshift ceremony with Paul Rogers and gave Talbert one of his extra Purple Hearts. They also wrote the poem The Night of the Bayonet for the incident.
In spring 1945, Gordon was sent back to the States and to Lawson General Hospital. One day when he was recuperating, a doctor named Dr. Stadium turned to the nurse and said, "Keep an eye on this one, he's goldbricking." Gordon was infuriated, and only later he realized that the doctor was trying to rile him up to help reconnect nerves and keep a fighting spirit in him. He remained in touch with Dr. Stadium for years after the war. The Army decided not to release Gordon, although he was improving, possibly because they might have to pay Gordon for a full disability if they released him at that point. Gordon was discharged from the Army with a 90% disability after his father threatened to "drive him down to the US Capitol Building, march him down onto the Senate floor, strip him down to his skivvies and let someone besides the Army make a determination."
Gordon eventually fully regained all bodily movements but would suffer from severe back pain for the remainder of his life. People who did not know of his condition would always give him big hugs and pats on the back and knowledgeable ones could always tell it caused him extreme pain but he would never show the person any sign that it bothered him at all.
Gordon later moved to Lafayette, Louisiana, where he became employed as an independent oil and gas lease broker. In 1946, he and others began organizing Easy Company reunions. In 1951, he married Elizabeth Ball Ludeau and the couple had five children including one son and 4 daughters. Gordon was a faithful Episcopalian, but stopped being so after his beloved twin sister Cleta died in her early thirties of breast cancer.
Gordon died in Pass Christian, Mississippi after suffering a stroke in his sleep. He is survived by his own five children and his 5 grandchildren among them.