John C. Gordon was born on Jan. 6, 1906, in Yellow Pine, Ala., and graduated from the United States Military Academy, West Point, N.Y., on June 11, 1931, on which date he was commissioned a second lieutenant of Infantry in the Regular Army.
He first completed the course at the Air Corps Primary School, Randolph Field, Texas, after which he transferred to the Air Corps Advanced Flying School, Kelly Field, Texas, to enroll in the Attack Course. In December 1932 he was ordered to Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, where he served a year and a half as Adjutant, Mess, Supply and Athletic Officer of the 18th Pursuit Group.
He returned to the United States in August 1933 for duty at Brooks Field, Texas. During the six years he spent at this station he served as Squadron Operations Officer of the 22nd Observation Squadron, and later as Commanding Officer of the 12th Observation Group. In June 1939 he became a student at the Air Corps Tactical School, Maxwell Field, Ala., and in November of that year reported to Chicago, Ill., for duty as Assistant and Detachment Commander of the Sixth Corps Area Air Corps Detachment.
In May 1941 he was assigned to Wright Field, Ohio, as Assistant Chief of Staff for Personnel, later serving as Chief of the Control Section, Personnel and Training Division at Patterson Field, Ohio. In January 1944 he was designated Chief of the Plans and Operations Section, China-Burma-India Air Service Command in the China-Burma-India Theater of Operations. On October 1944 his command was redesignated the India-Burma Air Service Command.
In February 1945 he returned to the United States for temporary duty with Headquarters Army Air Forces and Headquarters Air Technical Service Command, Washington, D.C. The following month he was assigned to the 4020th Army Air Forces Base Unit, Headquarters Air Technical Service Command, Wright Field, Ohio.
He is rated a senior pilot, command observer and aircraft observer.
He was awarded the Legion of Merit in August 1944, "For exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services as Assistant Chief of Staff, Personnel, Air Service Command, during the period of March 1941 to December 1943. By his unusual foresight, initiative and untiring efforts, he anticipated the format of an organization to provide for the annual growth of the Air Service Command. The personnel structure for civilian and military personnel now in operation is based upon the basic development of Colonel Gordon's program. His diligence and unusual application constituted an outstanding example of devotion to duty which has reflected great credit upon him and the Air Service Command."
He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal in March 1945, "For meritorious service in connection with operations against the enemy during the period of Sept. 3, 1944, to Jan. 31, 1945. As Chief, Plans and Operations Division, Headquarters India-Burma Air Service Command, he was instrumental in providing aircraft supplies of all kinds in ever increasing quantities and furnishing better coordinated and more effective third and fourth echelon maintenance. His help in securing facilities and personnel to ensure better maintenance and supply service to India-China Division has contributed immeasurably to the rapidity of delivery and a resultant increase in the number of trips made 'over the Hump.' The complete coordination and unusual knowledge of air transport problems evidenced by Colonel Gordon has a material effect on the operating efficiency of the Indian-China Division. By performance of his duties with a degree of efficiency above the usual, Colonel Gordon rendered services of a very great value to the India-China Division, Air Transport Command."
He was awarded the Air Medal in September 1945, "For meritorious achievement in aerial flight during the period of May 1944 to Aug. 15, 1945. General Gordon, as Chief, Plans and Operations Division, China-Burma-India Air Service Command, later designated India-Burma Air Service Command, made numerous flights throughout India, Burma and China for the purpose of coordinating operations of the several elements of the Command. Many of these flights were made where exposure to enemy fire was probable and expected. The first-hand knowledge gained by General Gordon as a result of these flights resulted in definite improvement in operations of this Command, which contributed greatly to the successes of the tactical units in this Theater and China. The initiative, resourcefulness and leadership displayed by General Gordon have served as an inspiration to all personnel in this Command, and reflect great credit upon himself and upon the Army Air Forces of the United States."
He transferred to the Air Corps on Jan. 25, 1933, and was promoted to first lieutenant (temporary) on May 11, 1935; captain (temporary), May 29, 1935; first lieutenant (permanent), Aug. 1, 1935; captain (permanent), June 11, 1941; major (temporary), July 15, 1941; lieutenant colonel (temporary), Jan. 23, 1942; colonel (temporary), July 5, 1944; brigadier general (temporary), April 1, 1945.