Harry L. Gordon
Harry L. Gordon

Harry L. Gordon

AFRH-G Resident Highlight – Harry L. Gordon
By Lori Kerns | Librarian

Harry L. Gordon was born in Pensacola, FL. During the Great Depression, he decided he wanted to join the military. He made several visits to the Navy Recruiter Office where he would meet the same Chief who kept giving him different reasons that he was not fit to serve. On one of his visits, the Chief told him that he had too many cavities. Harry’s father took him to the dentist and had all his cavities filled. After his dental work was complete, he decided to hitchhike to Macon, GA. He remembers arriving on a Saturday and being thankful that the driver who brought him gave him $2.00. On Monday morning, he walked to Macon’s Navy Recruiter Office where they checked him out thoroughly and deemed him fit for duty. He was instructed to head back home to await further instructions. A few days later, he was taken to a train station by his mother and aunt to head out for boot camp.

As a new sailor, Harry remembers how cold the barracks were and how his bed was a hammock. After a few months, a first class petty officer came looking for him. He had to pack his bag to begin his first mission at sea aboard a destroyer. His deployment began in San Diego where he recalls having a great time. The destroyer then set out to Honolulu, HI. On the way, the ship got caught in a terrible storm. During the storm, the seas got so rough that Harry, a deck hand at the time, was washed all the way to the stern of the ship. Luckily, they made it to their destination at Pearl Harbor.

When Harry’s four years were up, his Captain told him that if he stayed he could become a third class petty officer. He declined because he was ready to get back home to his wife, Juanita. When he got back to Florida, he discovered that there was a training station that was opening in Opa-locka, FL. He rejoined the Navy as a first class petty officer and began training cadets.

Harry dedicated 31 years to the Navy. He began as a deck hand but retired as a chaplain in 1958. Upon his military retirement, he began a civilian career when he started a business of selling and fixing appliances. He and Juanita raised their two sons, Harry and Danny, who also went on to serve their country. When Harry lost his beloved wife in 2000, he decided to move to the Naval Home in Gulfport, MS. He has enjoyed his retirement at what is now AFRH-G ever since. Nowadays, he spends his mornings cruising the halls and visiting with friends in his iconic cowboy hat. He also takes delight in the many recreation activities like bingo and the monthly birthday dinners. In September, Harry will be celebrated at the monthly birthday dinner when he turns 100 years young!