December 27, 1916 (Norwalk, CT) – January 25, 1944; 27 years old
Last local address: 8 Bethel Street, East Norwalk
Enlisted on February 3, 1942
Service number: O-795194 and 11045564
Unit: 67th Reconnaissance Group, 16th Reconnaissance Squadron
MIA (at sea)
Awarded the Purple Heart Medal
Gordon served as a First Lieutenant & Navigator on B-17F # 42-30379, 16th Squadron, 68th Reconnaissance Group, U.S. Army Air Force during World War II.
B-17F #42-30379 took off, with a crew of 13, from Foch Field, Tunisia on a reconnaissance mission along the coast of Naples, Italy. They never returned to base and are assumed to have either been shot down or crashed in the Mediterranean Sea.
Airmen who perished on B-17F #42-30379:
Becker, Erle B ~ Sgt, Observer, MS
Buck, Gordon ~ 1st Lt, Navigator, CT
Conyers, Glen W, Jr ~ Sgt, Gunner, CA
Corbus, Albert C ~ SSgt, Gunner, MO
Gray, Lawrence B ~ 1st Lt, Observer, CT
Jackson, Arthur M ~ Sgt, Observer, NY
Jordan, George W ~ Capt, Pilot, IL
Justice, Hyle C ~ TSgt, Radio Operator, TX
Mann, Irving ~ Sgt, Observer, NY
Riker, George E ~ TSgt, Engineer, WA
Trenca, Joseph D ~ SSgt, Gunner, NY
Webb, Frederick W ~ SSgt, Gunner, IA
Young, Edward M, Jr ~ 1st Lt, Co-Pilot, LA
From The Norwalk Hour April 18, 1945
LT GORDON BUCK LISTED AS DEAD
War Dept. Has No Further Word Of Navigator Missing Since Jan. 25, 1944
Lieutenant Gordon Buck, navigator, son of Mrs. Rose Buck of 8 Bethel Street, reported by the War Department as missing in action since January 25, 1944, is now listed as officially dead according to the notification received on Monday by his mother, the changed status being attributed to the War Department’s subsequent check-up of attending circumstances. Meager information regarding the disappearance of Lieutenant Buck’s Flying Fortress states “Your son was a crew member on a B17 Flying Fortress that has not been seen or heard from by anyone since it departed its base at Tunisia, North Africa, on a reconnaissance mission over the Mediterranean Sea. The plane was to have proceeded to a point Near Ischia Island, which is a short distance west of Naples, Italy, then northwest near the coast of Italy as far as Elba Island, then back to Tunisia.” Lieutenant Buck enlisted in the Army Air Force in 1942, training at several Texas bases, in Florida, and in Louisiana, and had been overseas for more than a year at the time of his disappearance. Before enlisting, he was a swimming and tennis instructor at the Shorehaven Golf Club and was one of the outstanding golfers in Fairfield County. He was a Norwalk High School graduate. Survivors include one brother, Lieutenant George Buck, in the Infantry, and one sister Mary, an employee of the Southern New England Telephone Company. High praise was accorded the late lieutenant by Grantland Rice in his Sportslight column of March 13, 1943, a clipping of which was found in Buck’s clothes and sent to his mother.
Rice said: “His name is Gordon Buck. Less than two years ago he was just another caddie at the Shorehaven Golf Club, located in South Norwalk, Connecticut. Not quite just another caddie,’ for he showed such alertness at locating wild slices driven into wild landscapes, that he soon drew the nickname of ‘Gazer.” Gazer Buck. His golf club soon discovered that Gazer could follow the flight of the most erratic blows that ever careened from wood or iron. Then war and the shadow of war came along. So, Gazer who was then in high school, decided to take a shot at the Army Air Force. He tried and flunked his examination. In place of quitting he took a four months workout with one of his high school teachers. He worked day and night. After a long summer’s effort, he took the examination again – and this time he passed. First turned down by the Army Air Force, then washed out as a pilot, Gazer Buck switched over to the navigator’s school. He gave this third shot everything he had. His club members at Shorehaven had lost track of the eager, hustling, sweaty and often dirty-faced kid who had left them to help is country. Somewhat to their surprise the Gazer suddenly arrived in New York from his training in Texas. But he was no longer the scraggly little caddie they had known. He was now Lieutenant Gordon (Gazer) Buck, the chief navigator of a four-motored bomber on his way to one of the major fronts. The Gazer had on his new uniform. He had the poise and cockiness of a veteran. But he still had the same grin, and in many ways, he was still the same young caddie his club members had known a short while ago. Not so many remembered the Gazer had discarded the eight-hour day, the ten-hour day, and the 12-hour day. In the face of every discouragement that could be thrown into the heart of a kid, he had given the Air Force and his country a 16-hour day, with no thought of pay, to play out his part in winning the war. He came out of Texas as one of the best young navigators the Air Force has yet known. He had transferred from the matted rough, the ‘deep, tangled wildwood,’ the ponds and lakes and the heel prints, into the far graver matter of plotting the celestial hazards where the fate of his mates and his big place depended largely upon his judgment. The caddie Gazer of golf has now turned into the stargazer of a big bomber. And this has all happened in less than two years. And Lieutenant Gordon (Gazer) Buck isn’t the only caddie you’ll hear from later on. For most of these caddies have just about everything it takes, if you give them a chance. They are great kids. They were once the Hagens, Sarazens, Ouimets, Evanses, Hogans, Nelsons of a happier day.”
Memorialized at Sea Tablets of the Missing at North Africa American Cemetery Carthage, Tunisia. Having actually gone “Missing” on January 25, 1944, he was not officially declared by the military as being dead until April 12, 1945.