LT. JAMES LEONARD T. GORDON, HAILED AS WORLD WAR II HERO
As the nation celebrates the 77th Araw ng Kagitingan and Philippine Veterans Week, the late Olongapo City Mayor James Leonard Tagle Gordon, was hailed as a hero of World War II.
Gordon was given a posthumous award for his heroism in fighting for the resistance during a ceremony held at the Armed Forces of the Philippines' General Headquarters recently. He had the rank of a first lieutenant and joined the resistance on November 1, 1943.
"His contributions during the World War II have made a lasting and indelible mark in the Philippine military history. His selfless sacrifices for the love of country will serve as guiding inspiration to the Filipinos, to uphold the values of our race and to protect and fight for our nation's freedom whatever maybe the cost," the plaque of recognition read.
Lt. Gordon was assigned as a junior officer under the Intelligence Staff engaged in intelligence gathering in the Province of Zambales, especially in enemy concentration camps. Their reports ensured that enemy camps were victoriously taken over by the Allied Forces. His unit was also assigned to monitor the area of San Antonio, Zambales.
Senator Richard J. Gordon, who received the award for his late father and stood as the guest of honor and speaker during the event, was asked to accompany Gen. Benjamin Madrigal, Jr., AFP Chief of Staff, in conducting the Inspection of Troops before handing over the plaques of recognition to 15 other Filipino veterans who also fought in the war.
Also known as the Father of Olongapo, Lt. Gordon, led the move to free Olongapo from the United States. He was also an untiring crusader against graft and corruption; fearlessly fighting well-entrenched politicians and exposing anomalies that bedeviled the new municipal government.
The crusade of Olongapo's first elected mayor earned him enemies who tried all types of harassment, including threats of suspension, hand grenade attacks and planned ambushes. Three cowardly attempts on his life were made before a fourth and final attempt was made on February 20, 1967. While talking with a constituent on the first floor of City Hall, Mayor Jimmy Gordon was gunned down by an escaped inmate of the National Penitentiary bringing inconsolable loss to his family and to the people of Olongapo.
Lt. Gordon's valor and heroism was inherited from his grandfather, Col. Jose Tagle, who led the country's first victory against the Spanish colonizers in Imus Cavite on September 3, 1896.