I officiated at a memorial service for Gordon Larson two weeks ago. Gordon was father to Jan Hoffmeister. He was a quiet, unassuming man, and always minimized his role in World War 2 by saying he was “just a clerk”. While I was preparing my thoughts on Gordon’s life, Jan had provided Gordon’s discharge papers, which revealed he had served aboard the USS American Legion, a Troop Transport, in 1942.
The American Legion was an older ship, built for World War 1, but saw a lot of use transporting refugees from Scandinavian countries during the earlier days of the war, including kings, queens, and dignitaries.
By the time Gordon got aboard the American Legion it had been transferred to the South Pacific. After a year of being beaten back by the Japanese, the Japs had clear superiority in that area, but the US had plans to island-hop from island to island to take back territory that had been lost.
The very first offensive attack in our efforts was on the heavily fortified island of Guadalcanal. The American Legion was one of two troop transports that unloaded US Marines in that invasion. They came under heavy attack by artillery from shore and bombing and strafing from the air. Gordon had played a major role in the first offensive ground attack in the South Pacific theater. There’s another hero to remember.