First American WWII POW Escapee Dies

Lee "Shorty" Gordon, believed to be the first American prisoner of war to escape from a German camp during World War II, has died. He was 84.

Gordon died Tuesday of complications from recent stomach and kidney surgery at a Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Menlo Park, according to his daughter, Cherie Gordon.

Gordon, who made two failed escape attempts from Stalag VIIA -- including one on a bicycle while yelling the only German he knew, "Heil, Hitler" -- succeeded on Oct. 13, 1943, according to historian Robert C. Doyle.

"Shorty was a committed natural escaper," Doyle said. "There was nothing that was going to keep that man in that camp."

The Southern California native was serving as a ball turret gunner with the Army Air Corps' 305th Bomb Group when his B-17 was shot down over Wilhelmshaven, Germany, on Feb. 26, 1943. He survived the parachute landing, but was quickly captured by German troops, his daughter said.

comments powered by Disqus

Subscribe to our mailing list