Gordon Donald Gayle

BRANCH OF SERVICE
U.S. Marine Corps

HOMETOWN
Tulsa, OK

HONORED BY
Robert S. Cox

ACTIVITY DURING WWII

GRADUATED FROM HIGH SCHOOL IN DALLAS, TEXAS, AND ENTERED THE U.S. NAVAL ACADEMY. GRADUATED AND RECEIVED HIS COMMISSION AS A SECOND LIEUTENANT IN THE MARINE CORPS IN 1939, BEFORE THE UNITED STATES ENTERED THE WAR. SERVED OVERSEAS IN THE ASIATIC-PACIFIC THEATER WITH THE 1ST MARINE 'THE OLD BREED' DIVISION. HIS DIVISION PARTICIPATED IN 5 CAMPAIGNS: GUADALCANAL OPERATION, INVOLVING THE GUADALCANAL-TULAGI LANDING FROM AUGUST 7-9, 1942, AND THE CAPTURE AND DEFENSE OF GUADALCANAL FROM AUGUST 10, 1942-FEBRUARY 8, 1943; EASTERN NEW GUINEA OPERATION, INVOLVING THE FINSCHHAFEN OCCUPATION FROM SEPTEMBER 22, 1943-FEBRUARY 17, 1944; BISMARCK ARCHIPELAGO OPERATION, INVOLVING ACTIONS AT CAPE GLOUCESTER, NEW BRITAIN ISLAND FROM DECEMBER 26, 1943-MARCH 1, 1944; WESTERN CAROLINE ISLANDS OPERATIONS, INVOLVING THE CAPTURE AND OCCUPATION OF THE SOUTHERN PALAU ISLANDS FROM SEPTEMBER 15-NOVEMBER 27, 1944; AND OKINAWA GUNTO OPERATION, INVOLVING THE ASSAULT AND OCCUPATION OF OKINAWA GUNTO FROM MARCH 24-JUNE 30, 1945. PARTICIPATED IN THE BATTLE FOR GUADALCANAL IN THE SOLOMON ISLANDS; BATTLE OF CAPE GLOUCESTER ON NEW BRITAIN ISLAND IN THE BISMARCK ARCHIPELAGO; BATTLE OF PELIELIU IN THE PALAU ISLANDS; AND BATTLE OF OKINAWA IN THE RYUKYU ISLANDS. DURING THE BATTLE FOR PELELIU, WHICH BEGAN WITH ASSAULT LANDINGS ON SEPTEMBER 15, 1944, HE SEIZED A CRITICAL MOMENT IN THE BATTLE, WHEN AFTER REPELLING A JAPANESE COUNTERATTACK, HE LED HIS BATTALION IN AN ASSAULT ACROSS THE PELELIU AIRFIELD. HE LED FROM THE FRONT AND CROSSED SOME 1,400 YARDS OF OPEN GROUND WHILE UNDER INTENSE MORTAR, ARTILLERY AND MACHINEGUN FIRE. HIS PERSONAL COURAGE UNDER FIRE INSPIRED THE MARINES IN HIS CHARGE, WHICH WAS INSTRUMENTAL IN THEIR ABILITY TO SEIZE AND HOLD A MAJOR PORTION OF THE AIRFIELD AGAINST FANATICAL JAPANESE RESISTANCE. HE WAS WOUNDED DURING THIS ACTION BUT REFUSED TO BE MEDICALLY EVACUATED AND CONTINUED TO LEAD HIS BATTALION. FOR HIS COURAGE AND EXTRAORDINARY HEROISM DURING THE BATTLE, THEN MAJOR GAYLE WAS AWARDED THE NAVY CROSS, THE SECOND HIGHEST AWARD FOR HEROISM IN COMBAT. THE FIGHT TO TAKE PELELIU ENDED ON NOVEMBER 27, 1944, AFTER OVER 2 MONTHS OF INTENSE FIGHTING, WHEN ORGANIZED RESISTANCE ENDED. HOWEVER, MANY JAPANESE IN THE ISLAND'S CAVES CONTINUED FIGHTING UNTIL AFTER THE WAR ENDED. HIS DIVISION SUFFERED 6,786 CASUALTIES, WITH 1,300 KILLED IN ACTION, WHICH WAS ALMOST 54% OF THEIR TOTAL STRENGTH. SOME 12,000 JAPANESE WERE KILLED. AWARDED THE NAVY CROSS, BRONZE STAR MEDAL, PURPLE HEART, COMBAT ACTION RIBBON, NAVY PRESIDENTIAL UNIT CITATION WITH 2 BRONZE SERVICE STARS (3 AWARDS), CHINA SERVICE MEDAL, AMERICAN DEFENSE SERVICE MEDAL, AMERICAN CAMPAIGN MEDAL, ASIATIC-PACIFIC CAMPAIGN MEDAL WITH 1 SILVER SERVICE STAR (5 CAMPAIGNS), WWII VICTORY MEDAL, AND NAVY OCCUPATION SERVICE MEDAL WITH ‘ASIA’ CLASP. CONTINUED IN U.S. MARINE CORPS SERVICE AFTER THE WAR UNTIL HIS RETIREMENT WITH THE RANK OF BRIGADIER GENERAL. ISSUED THE WWII HONORABLE DISCHARGE LAPEL PIN. AFTER THE WAR, HE AUTHORED A BOOK TITLED 'BLOODY BEACHES,' WHICH PROVIDED HIS PERSONAL ACCOUNT OF THE BATTLE FOR PELELIU.