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Ernest Gordon Wilson Jr.

T/5 in Signal Co, Special : Radio A

Military occupational specialty: 776 (radio operator, low speed)


Born 1916 in GA, Died 2012

County of residence at enlistment: Fulton County, GA
Other residence(s): Griffin, GA; Eufaula, AL; Decatur, GA; Atlanta, GA; Avondale Estates, GA; Woodstock, GA
United States Army, European Theatre of Operations
Occupation before the war: skilled linemen and servicemen, telegraph, telephone, and power
College education before the war: Georgia Tech 1 year
Notes: "Ernie"
Source: Unit Shipment 10143-D, 23d HQ, from le Havre 23 June 1945;; photo courtesy Thomas Wilson and siblings

Gordon Wilson was born on May 26, 1916 in Griffin, GA, the younger of two sons. His father was a farmer when Gordon was young; later he worked as a bookkeeper at a newspaper, and still later as a paper carrier there. At some point the family had moved to Eufaula, AL, where Gordon was a member of the first Boy Scout Troop there. They returned to Atlanta, GA when he was a teenager.

Gordon graduated from Tech High School in Atlanta (currently called Midtown High School) in about 1934 and went on to study electrical engineering for a year or two at Georgia Tech.

The 1940 census shows him working as a paper carrier. He married Miriam "Mickey" McKeag on February 8, 1941; their son Gordon was born early in 1943.

Gordon enlisted on August 13, 1943. At the time, his occupation was listed in the category of "skilled linemen and servicemen, telegraph, telephone, and power." That job, combined with his experience as an amateur radio operator before the war, got him assigned to the Signal Company Special. Gordon served in Europe with the unit during the war and was discharged with the rank of T/5.

Gordon and Mickey would go on to have four more children: Robert, Lynn, Thomas, and Judy. Gordon worked in the dictating machine business with the Ediphone Company, which later became the Lanier Company. He also did sales for a while and then worked for Lockheed Aircraft in Marietta, GA. In the early 1960s he took a job as an inspector in the Clerk's Office for the City of Atlanta, and later as an investigator in the city's Finance Department.

Gordon and his family left the Episcopal Church in 1967 and, with a group of like-minded people, founded St. James Anglican Church in Atlanta. Gordon served there as Senior Warden and also as Treasurer. In 1973 he was ordained as a deacon and served as assistant to the Bishop for several years.

Gordon retired from his city job in 1981, and began an active retirement career that lasted for 31 years. According to his obituary, "he had a love of nature and the outdoors that stayed with him for life. He shared this mutual passion with Mickey as early members of the Appalachian Trail Club and passed that love on to his children." He was interested in photography, carpentry, handicrafts, and genealogy, and was also an inventor and creator.

Gordon and Mickey eventually moved out of the city, settling in Woodstock, GA. In 1992 he was given a computer by his family, and in 1994 started writing about his World War II experiences, privately publishing Normandy to Germany with the Ghost Army 1944-1945. The book includes a story about his work on garbage detail in Briey, France.

Gordon Wilson (right) with Carmine Laveglia, France, 1945; photo courtesy Thomas Wilson and siblings

"I had been there . . . only a few days when I was again selected for the 'garbage detail' and given a map and a load of garbage. It was quite a distance to the garbage dump. As we were enjoying the drive through the French countryside we came near a farm house sitting back a good distance from the road. It looked very bare—with its small barn and fencing around the yard by the barn. Without any plan or thought, when I came to the road leading up to the house, I turned, very suddenly, into the road and drove up and parked in the yard in front of the barn. I had suddenly thought that our garbage would be useful for the farmer's pigs and not wasted in the ground as much of it had been at Metz.

"It took us a while to coax the farmer out of his house, since neither of us spoke French, and he finally, cautiously and slowly, came to our truck and we motioned to him that he could have this garbage. When he realized we were friendly, he examined its contents by reaching down into a can and came up with a double handful of beef. He completely changed—became very excited—began calling to his family and running out of his house came his son and wife with pans to put the meat in. He and his family kept up a continuous stream of excited talk as they made many trips into the house to carry in the meat our well-fed GJ's had discarded. Soon the meat was taken care of and he took the slop/liquid in other containers into his barn all the time thanking us for this windfall which we thought was garbage.

"The cans were empty as he and his family disappeared into his house and so we started loading them into our truck and were closing the tailgate, thinking what a good deed we had done to make these folks so happy when things were so hard for them—then again, the farmer and his son came running out with three big bottles of wine and more excited thanks as only a Frenchman can express it. As we drove back to our base, we thought about how we had enjoyed every minute of it—and three bottles of wine for garbage was a good deal. When my helper spread the word around about the wine, that was the last time I was offered the garbage detail. Probably someone with ‘connections’ took over in order to get his free wine!"

In 1997, he and Mickey published her cookbook. Mickey had heart trouble, and Gordon used to drive her to the basket weaving and chair caning classes which she taught—eventually he began helping her teach. He also spoke to groups and schools on his Ghost Army experience and presented exhibits at the Atlanta History Center.

He was a member of the Appalachian Trail Club, American Legion Post 316 in Woodstock, the WWII Round Table, the Basket Weavers Guild of Georgia, and various political organizations. After moving to Woodstock, he became a member of the Resurrection Anglican Church there.

Gordon died on April 24, 1912 in Woodstock, GA and is buried at Oak Hill Cemetery in Griffin, GA.


1920 census

1930 census

1940 census

1940 draft card

1941 engagement announcement in Atlanta Constitution (GA)

1943 enlistment record

1950 census

1973 article in the Atlanta Journal (GA) re his ordination as deacon

1986 US Public Records Index

2012 obituary

2012 Find a Grave record

2012 Social Security death record

2024 (May 8) GALP Veteran Biography Worksheet from son Thomas R. Wilson

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