Local News

November 11, 2012

WWII vet’s uniform donated to The Citadel

When Cantey Gordon was serving in a medical logistics unit in World War II under the command of legendary Gen. George S. Patton, he made a request of the general’s chief of staff for some trucks to move equipment.

“He was trying to negotiate something, (saying) ‘Hey, I need more trucks’ or food or something like that — and Gen. Patton came out and asked him how could we move this unit,” said family friend and retired Army Lt. Col. David Are. “Mr. Gordon — who was Lt. Gordon then — offered a solution to Gen. Patton and Gen. Patton said, ‘I think that’s what we’ll do. We’ll implement that.’ (Gordon) was rather proud of that story when he told it.”

Gordon passed away last year, and recently his wife, Helen, contacted the Are family and asked for help in donating her late husband’s uniform from The Citadel — one of the South’s premier military colleges — back to the school.

“Mr. Gordon, my Dad (Bill Are) and myself are all Citadel graduates,” explained David Are. “Mrs. Gordon contacted Dad and said she wanted to donate her husband’s ring back to The Citadel. In The Citadel (Archives and) Museum there’s a big display of donated rings, but it’s just one per class. So she ended up not wanting to do that unless she knew it was going to be on display.”

Are said he did some research and found The Citadel was looking for graduates to donate their rings that weren’t going to be displayed in order to melt them down and make a giant memorial ring on campus.

“I went back and had to tell her, ‘There’s nothing to say they’re not going to melt this down,’” he said, adding that another tradition is that the graduation ring never changes style, except for the class year number.

“She told me she had some uniforms and other stuff she could donate, so I picked up the uniform,” Are continued. “The Citadel wears a gray, duck-tailed kind of uniform just like West Point (Army academy) has. It has South Carolina (embossed) buttons and a South Carolina hat, brass and that kind of thing. But Mr. Gordon’s is in unbelievable condition. It’s a solid wool uniform and it was just immaculate. I graduated 40 years after he did and mine’s not in this good of a condition.”

Helen Gordon said her late husband’s uniform was “just hanging in the closet in beautiful condition” when she decided to do something with it.

“I thought (The Citadel) would like to have it,” she said the week before Veterans Day. “It meant a whole lot to him. He loved The Citadel.”

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