William Vernon Gordon (1912–1944) &
Rayola Smith (1913–2006)
William Vernon Gordon
Born: 10 Jul 1912 Lincoln, Bingham, Idaho
Died: 23 Feb 1944 WWII Bougainville,
North Solomons, Papua New Guinea
Burial: 12 Mar 1944 Draper, Salt Lake, Utah
Married: 3 May 1933 Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah
Born: 15 Feb 1913 Draper, Salt Lake,, Utah
Died: 3 April 2006, Draper Cemetery, Draper, Utah
William Vernon Gordon: fourth son and 6th of 10 children of Samuel Arthur Gordon and Harriet
Louisa Meikle. He was Born July, 10, 1912 at Lincoln, Bonneville Co. Idaho
Vern, as known to his family and friends At the time of his birth, 10 Jul 1912, the family was living in
Taylor Creek, Bonneville, Idaho. Lincoln, Bingham, Idaho being the nearby town in which he was born.
PHOTO JAN 1912 A FEW MONTHS BEFORE VERN WAS BORN MAY 1912
At an early age he fell down a flight of stairs and broke his nose. As a result it was slightly
deformed and he had a degree of congestion in it. He loved his brothers and sisters, family
ties were very close. His family moved from one community to another a number of times.
His early life was spent in Lincoln, Idaho; Smithfield, Utah; Salt
Lake City, Utah; Other places in Idaho. Cornish, Utah, South
Jordan, Utah; Milford, Utah; Beaver, Utah. He attended High
School in Beaver, Utah. He enjoyed sports and he played
basketball in High School. he was interested in mechanics and
delighted in remodeling old cars. He always said he should have
one car to drive and one to fix.
On May 3, 1933 he married Rayola Smith in the Salt
Lake Temple. The first two years of our married life
was spent in South Draper, Utah. We lived in an old
house in which we had to replace windows. Fixing it
up was a challenge, but we were proud of the results.
It was while we lived here that our infant son was
born; 13 June 1934. He only lived twenty four hours.
He had a heart condition. This was a great
disappointment to us. But, even more so as years went
by. We were not permitted to have any babies.
However, we found a great deal of happiness in each
other, and our families, which were numerous on
Our next home was in Salt Lake City, Utah; about
one half block from Liberty Park. Vern was
employed at Arden Dairy.
About six months later we moved to Superior,
Wyoming. Vern was employed at the Union Pacific Coal Mines. We acquired many
friends and enjoyed the close companionship we had with Vern's brother Roy and his wife
Loe, and their three lovely girls. Together we enjoyed picnics, we often fixed our lunch
and rode out through the sagebrush until we found a shady spot to eat our lunch. We
enjoyed shopping together in Rock Springs, Wyo.
Then the annual celebration at Rock Springs was called "Old Timers Day".
Vern and Roy both participated in first aid
contest which were the main activity of the
Vern & Roy, First Aid Team
In the winter, we enjoyed dancing parties,
evenings playing games and then getting
ready for Santa. We were active in church
functions, Roy was Bishop of the Superior
Ward. Vern was the Ward Clerk, he served
as a councelor in the YMMIA.
The two years we spent in Superior were
outstandingly happy years. Except for a sad event that entered our lives.
Vern's Father passed away. We really missed him, as he was so kind to us and was always
concerned over our welfare.
As our aim in life was to own our own
home and go into the chicken business.
We moved back to Draper. We found a
great deal of happiness in building a
home of our own. Even though it only
contained two rooms. Vern took a
great deal of pride in helping to make
our home beautiful with lawn and
flowers. We always had a good garden
and we planted a small fruit orchard
and berry patch. We built chicken
coups and filled them with chickens.
Vern’s' mother and his youngest brother Arvel visited us
often. It was nice living so close to our folks. We enjoyed
the companionship of Vern's brother James and his wife
Jane. They were very kind to us. We appreciated what
they did for us, as a family group we had many
wonderful times together.
In Dec. of 1942, Vern was drafted into the Army. He left
for Fort Douglas the day after Christmas. This all was
very difficult for us. He was first stationed at Camp
Roberts Calif. The following month I joined him. I lived
at Paso Robles and obtained employment there doing
housework. We spent happy week-ends together and
evenings at the camp.
During this time we received word of the death
of his Mother. This was another test to us.
Mother Gordon was very dear to us. She had
been confined to a wheel chair for many years.
In her affliction she exhibited a great deal of
courage and fortitude. She never complained
and did her best to encourage her family in
We returned to California, and in August Vern was transferred
to Camp Lewis, Washington; where he received his over seas
training. I joined hem there and obtained employment at an
Army Hospital. The scenery is beautiful there. We lived in a
trailer house. Vern could only come home weekends, but we
felt it worth it for me to stay, to be together as long as we could.
One evening Vern called me from camp that he had received
his shipping orders. I drove out to camp to tell him good-bye.
This was not easy for either of us. After his departure, I
returned home to Draper and he was into the South Pacific. His
letters to me were of encouragement at all times. His thoughts
and dreams was to do his duty to his country and return home
to his loved ones, so that we could take up our lives where we
left off. He wrote concerning his family and friends. He was
interested in our home and appreciated information I gave him regarding it.
On February 23, 1944, Vern was killed while in active duty for his country on
Bougainville Island in the South Pacific. This was indeed a tragedy to those of us who
loved him. Memorial Services were held in his honor in Draper 2nd Ward. Many tributes
were rendered that day in his behalf. Vern's personality was one of generosity and
kindness. He never turned down a chance to be of service to anyone. He was cheerful and
he enjoyed life to the fullest. He lived well and died so we could go on enjoying the blessing
that comes with living in a free country. We owe him a debt of deep gratitude. As our
Savior said "I go to prepare a place for you, That where I am yea may be also."
WILLIAM VERNON GORDON
U.S. Army, 37th
Infantry Division, 148th
1942, Dec 19 - Inducted and sworn into the Army.
1942, Dec 26 - Leave Salt Lake city for Camp Roberts, California
1943, Jan 2 - Arrive at Camp Roberts, California for 13 weeks training.
1943, March 8 - Vern’s mother passes away
1943, March 19 - 7 Day furlough to attend Rayola’s Fathers funeral
1943, March 26 - Returned to Camp Roberts, Calif
1943, July 20 - Arrived at Fort Lewis, Washington for Advanced Training.
Assigned to: 37th Infantry Division, 148th Infantry Regiment
1943, Aug 19 - Moved to Pittsbury Depot, Calif. Near San Francisco
1943, Nov. 9 - 37th Landed on Bougainville
1944, Feb. 23 - Vern killed on Bougainville Island
1944, March 12 - Burial at Draper, Utah
Operation Cherryblossom - the invasion of Bougainville (November 1943-March 1944)
Presidential Distinguished Unit Citation, Co. F, 148th Infantry Regiment, for its heroism in Bougainville.
Christmas Day on Bougainville
The booming artillery is deafening-so is the roar of the planes.
Men are dying a thousand deaths-men are going insane.
The blood runs freely as the trickling of a brook.
The war goes on triumphantly and without a backward look.
To Kill; To Kill-the urge within one is strong.
"Peace on earth-Good will toward men"-where did I hear that song?
Oh! of course-how stupid-today is Christmas Day.
A day of hearty cheer-the world is deaf-it does not hear-it can not hear
Then, in late February and early March 1944, patrols began making "almost continuous"
contact with the enemy. It appeared that the Japanese were concentrating for a serious
William Vernon Gordon
Died on Bougainville
February 23, 1944
37th Infantry Division, U.S. Army Divisions of World War II
Name: 37th, Type: Infantry, Nickname: Buckeyes, Source: National Guard
WWII Casualties: 5,960, Days of Combat: 592, Activation Date: 16 Oct 40
Date Sent Overseas: 11 Jun 42 (Fiji) Date Entered Combat: 5 Jul 43 (New Georgia)
The 37th Infantry Division arrived in the Fiji Islands in June 1942 to fortify the islands against possible
invasion. The division continued its training on the islands. With the end of ground fighting on Guadalcanal, the
division moved to that island in April 1943, continued training, and staged for the Munda campaign. Two
battalions joined the Marine Raiders on New Georgia, 5 July 1943, while the remainder of the division landed,
22 July, and assisted the 43d Infantry Division in taking Munda airfield in heavy fighting. After mopping up on
New Georgia, the division returned to Guadalcanal, 9 September 1943, for rest and rehabilitation.
The division's next assignment was Bougainville as part of the I Marine Amphibious Corps. Landing between
8 and 19 November 1943, the 37th Division expanded the western beachhead sector, constructed roads and
bridges, and engaged in extensive patrol activity. On 15 December 1943, IMAC was relieved by the XIV Corps,
to which the 37th Division was then assigned. In March 1944, two Japanese divisions made eight major
attacks, but division lines held. In April patrols cleared the Laruma Valley area of major enemy units. The
division remained on Bougainville and trained for the Luzon campaign
The 148th Infantry landed first on Bougainville 8 Nov 43 and was followed by the 129th Infantry on 13 Nov
43 and the 145th Infantry which landed 19 Nov 43. Relieving the Marines there, the division took over the area
perimeter defense, constructed roads and bridges, conducted patrols, and repulsed eight Japanese divisional
attacks during March 1944
Why Bougainville? Most Japanese air attacks were launched from Rabaul, Bougainville and Buka, just north
of Bougainville. Possession of these islands would give our air force advanced bases for their operations further
north. Bougainville is approximately 125 miles long and 48 miles across at it's widest point. Approximately
60,000 Japanese occupied the island, mostly around Baku with it's airport and along the east shore with it's low-
lying cultivated plantations and which would be the most logical point to attack. General MacArther chose the
most illogical point of entry. Empress Augusta Bay was on the west side of the island and was separated from
the east side by swamps, a network of rivers, and dense impenetrable mountainous jungle. Besides the
immediate advantages to be gained by the capture of the beachhead area, there was an important strategic
advantage. The Japanese, isolated from any support or reinforcement by the U. S. fleet and Air Force, would
eventually have to come out of their retreat and, for the first time in the South Pacific, fight an offensive war.
With defensive positions firmly established and a strong perimeter bristling with gun emplacements and fields
of fire, the theory was, the Yanks could sit back and cut the Japs down like clay pigeons. The theory worked,
but the Japs were not exactly clay pigeons.
Landing at Empress Augusta Bay on Bougainville
The 148th landed on Bougainville with the 37th Division on Nov. 9, 1943. The American position at that time
was nothing but green jungle and mud. First mission was to establish a defense perimeter for the beachhead.
On Nov.10th the push inland began with the right flank of the 148th moving 1,000 yard north. Snipers kept
them on edge and there were 5 Jap plane attacks during the day. They advanced another 2,000 yards on Nov
15th. On Nov 21 they advanced another 1,000 yards; then the next few days were spent moving forward to the
final defense line. Here on Nov 25th began the long arduous task of completing perimeter defenses, digging in
guns, stretching barbed wire, and laying communications. Edward dug in his 37 MM antitank gun on the
extreme left flank, next to and overlooking Empress Augusta Bay. That foxhole was his home for the next 8
months. While the infantry made it's way in stages to the final defense line, work in the rear was progressing
rapidly on the installations for which the beachhead had been secured. A fighter strip had been built and they
were clearing ground for a huge new bomber field. Thanksgiving passed. Days went by without any major
excitement except the air raids.
By this time the situation of the
Japanese had become precarious. They
had the protection of the mountains but
their supply lines were cut, food
diminishing, bombed daily, they were
faced with the unhappy alternative of
remaining in hiding and starving, or
launching a full scale attack to wipe out
the American forces on the island. They
chose the latter.
The stage was set, and the curtain
about to rise on some of the bloodiest,
most fanatical Banzai attacks made by
the Japanese in the South Pacific War.
The players were the boastful warriors of
the Japanese 17th Army, the cream of
the Jap Militarists, pitted against a
civilian army of battling clerks, farmers,
mechanics, carpenters, schoolboys, and
business men, molded into an efficient,
blood-thirsty army by the blood-letting
on New Georgia. The American beachhead was on a coastal plain about two miles deep, lying at the foot of the
towering Crown Prince range of volcanic mountains. Patrols discovered that the Japs were assembling for a
major attack on Hill 700 which overlooked the airfield
William Vernon Gordon died February 23, 1944 on Bougainville
HEAD QUARTERS 148TH
Office of the Chaplain
April 18, 1944
Harriet M. Gordon
My Dear Friend:
I wish to express my sympathy at the death of your loved one. He gave his life
courageously and in honor for his country and we all trust that his sacrifice shall not be
in vain but that the peace for which he was fighting shall come to pass.
It is my prayer that your confidence in God and His care for the souls of our dead
will be a comfort to you. We will live in the hope of immortality so we can see our loved
ones again. "Those whom we have loved long since and lost awhile."
I regret to state that the body of your loved one has not and probably will not be
recovered. He was killed in action in enemy territory. His unit had other casualties in
attempting to recover the dead. At a later date a patrol was sent into this territory but was
unable to locate and trace any of the bodies either buried or unburied. This makes an
added burden to your sorrow, but let me assure you that everything was done that could
be done to secure the bodies for proper burial. However a Memorial Service was held in
his units and proper respect was paid to the sacrifice he made.
William was a man who was well liked by the men of his unit and he will be
missed greatly out here. We trust that we may have added courage to carry on for
Any request or question that you may have concerning the personal effects of
William may be directed to the Quarter Master General, Washington 25 D. C.
Joel M. Wareing
This is a mistake
Vern killed on Bougainville,
BOUGAINVILLE vs TRUK
Some of Vernon Gordon’s obituaries show that he died on Truk Island. However, during
February, 1944; the Division he was assigned to and was on Bougainville in the Solomon
During Mid-February 1944 the US Navy conducted extensive aerial attacks on Truck Island,
however the US Army was not involved in these engagements.
February 17/18 - U.S. Carrier-based planes destroy the Japanese naval base at Truk in the
BISHOP OTIS A. PIERCE: "My brothers and sisters, one year ago today, Brother Vern Gordon sat in this Chapel
at the services of his Mother. 'Rather a coincidence that milestones happen so often.
As you all know, these are memorial services for Brother William Vernon Gordon, who was killed in action
in the South Pacific on February 23 . The program arranged is in accordance of the family and Sister
Rayola. The honorary pallbearers are:
Vern Richins Ray Baker
Anthon Sund Vyron Baker
Enar Sund Alvin Hill
The program will proceed as follows: Advancement of the colors by Post Commander C.E. Buckley;
opening song by the male quartet, O.D. Ballard Wndell Vawdrey, Lloyd Diamond, and A.J. Henderson
accompanied by Sister A.J. Henderson. The invocation 'will be offered by Brother Arnold Adamson. Vocal duet,
"In the Garden," sung by Wendell Vawdrey and Emma Vawdrey. The first speaker will be Brother J.E.
Mickelsen, member of the State Presidency. Second speaker will be Brother Frank Nelson, a very close neighbor
and friend. Violin duet "Ah Sweet Mystery of Life" by Sister Margaret Smith and Brother Elden Brown; then we
will have remarks by Crozier Kimball, then by Brother Orson Smith, a relative. Organ selection 'Oh My Father"
by Sister Pixton; remarks by myself and followed by the male quartet, "Cast Thy Bread Upon The Water." This is
as far as we will announce at this time."
ADVANCEMENT OF THE COLORS: The congregation stood during the advancement of the colors under the
direction of the American Legion, Post No. 35.
"I KNOW THAT MY REDEEMER LIVES" was sung by the male quartet, O.D. Ballard, A.J. Henderson,
Wendell Vawdrey, and Lloyd Diamond, accompanied on the piano by Mrs. A.J. Henderson.
INVOCATION BY ARNOLD ADAMSON: "Our Father in Heaven, hallowed by Thy name. 'We have met this day
in memorial service in honor of Brother William Vernon Gordon, who was killed in defense of this our country.
Our Father, we ask that you let a rich portion of Thy holy spirit rest down upon him.
Bless those who are called to speak and sing and try to console this bereaved family, especially bless this
dear Sister Rayola who has given her all on that altar, and Father, in as much as we aren't permitted to have the
body of this soldier with us today, we ask Thee to let it rest in a holy plot, a hallowed place. Heavenly Father, let it
be surrounded by Tropical flowers and trees; let the morning sun warm it with soft breezes, caressing it, and the
eternal rains refresh it, and at these things, these elements are kind to the plot, let the same elements bring a
reassurance to this dear Sister as the spring time opens the roads. May she know that he will again raise and when
the Lord calls him, reunite his spirit with the body.
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Bless her, make the sunshine of her smile return to cheer the hearts of all of us. She has been a tower of
strength and to her beloved Mother in the bereavement of her Father and in the loss of her husband's Mother, she
has been the one who brought joy to their life, and let her continue on for we are indeed in a great struggle.
Many are called to mourn. Many hearts are broken and sad, and let us, Heavenly Father, rededicate our
lives that this young may, has not given his life in vain. Let’s dedicate them to the cause that the "Government by
the people, of the people and for the people may not perish from the earth"----Amen.
"IN A GARDEN” a vocal duet sung by Wendell Vawdrey and Emma Vawdreye
J. B. MIMLSER, FIRST SPEAKER: "'If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we, above all men are most
miserable.’ Today we are called upon to pay our last respect to one of our loved ones who has made the supreme
effort, one who has given his all for the preservation of this country we call our own. He, along with many other of
our boys, has been called to the colors. He has been asked to go out and try to stop the hand that would destroy us.
He has gone out to fight, to do everything within his power along with the rest of the boys, to make this country a
fitting place to live in.
The Prophets that have gone before us have told us that this land we live in is a land blessed above all other
lands and I think that when this promise was given to the people that the same promise incurred-an obligation
along with it, that we were expected to protect this land from all that was evil and do the best we could to preserve
it and the freedom for each and everyone of us and our posterity. Now Vern has gone forth and he was one among
others that was caught in the net of those that didn’t come back--and God bless his memory, bless his family& and
bless everyone that is connected with him that we might cherish his memory, that we might do end act in such a
may that we might show some appreciation for the things that these boys are doing for use.
I have been acquainted with Vern for not too many years and all that I can say about him is good. I know
his wife much better than I know him, she works at the plant with us and I have never seen a woman that has been
more uplifting with her smile as she passes and her “how do you do" or "good morning" and it is a pleasure to
work with that kind of people.
. As I read that ‘if in this life only we had hope in Christ, we would of all men., be the most miserable.' —
our Church sends out, it has done in the past, thousands to preach the gospel to every kind of tongue and belief.
'When the Savior was crucified on the cross, he was put in the sepulcher, lay there
three days and was resurrected. He told the fellows that were crucified with him that "today thou shall be with me
in paradise." Many of our neighbors, not of our faith have understood this testimony that today He would most
then in Heaven, but that we don't believe. The scriptures tell us different. The scriptures tell us that the Savior
went to preach to those who were disobedient in the day of Noah like to other people who hadn't received the
gospel that had possibly become wayward and if the Savior had to preach to those in the prison, could it be just as
possible that they needed missionaries on the other side. When you think of the people that belong to the church if
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were to preach the gospel, and they shall, to all the people that died since the day of Adam, it seems to me that
maybe they needed missionaries over there, and who knows but what Vern is one of our missionaries who had
fulfilled his calling on this earth and was called to a mission to preach on the other side; gone to preach to his
buddies lost in the same conflict. It is hard to say, but I might be convinced such is the case.
We know that the gospel prepares them before the end comes and we know if they don't receive in this life,
they, will yet receive or have the privilege of receiving it hereafter .and if they do, they must have somebody to
preach it to them there, and I believe when a man has been faithful in this state of existence and is called to the
other side, that he is called there for a purpose, that he is called to preach the gospel to those in prison, and I
believe Vern is one of those boys who fulfilled his mission here and just because he belonged to the colors, I don't
think had anything to do with it. I think that those that die in the fulfillment of duty to their country and freedom
will gain a very high reward on the other side. It is not my purpose to talk any longer--I pray that the Lord will
have mercy on this family, that the sorrow that comes with this passing may be lightened, that we all may be able
to gain some strength in knowing there is a hereafter, that we may gain consolation that not in this life only there is
hope, there is hope after this life, May God bless us-=--Amen."
FRANK NELSON, SECOND SPEAKER: "My dear friends, today we meet in memory of a very dear friend, Vern.
‘The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.' Today he has taken from us one of the greatest men I have every
known—but may this man's influence continue on in the years to follow and may be continue to guide us in there
hours of sorrow.
This man and Rayola have been as a brother and sister to me and my wife. They would come over and
bring a cake or pie and we would have a real festival together and make various plans, but now those plans must
be altered, but I know that Vern's influence will continue and guide Rayola. This is my prayer that it will.
Vern put his trust in us that we would help and do all that we could to make it easier and more pleasant for
Rayola and may I always be strong enough to continue and to uphold his trust, I had hoped that some day in the
future Vern would return and come home, but someday we will again see him and I hope and pray that his friends
will not forget his memory or Rayola, in her time of need. This is my prayer in the name of Jesus Christ—Amen."
"AH SWEET MYSTERY OF LIFE" a violin duet was played by Margaret Smith and Elden Brown, accompanied
by Claudia Dunyon.
CROZIER KIMBALL, THIRD SPEAKER: "One year age last July, I took the train at Salt Lake City for the state
of Wyoming, and as I was looking out of the window I noticed right close by, the ear a young soldier with his wife,
an expectant mother, I was close enough that I could hear the conversation that was carried on between this
couple. In a few moments I found myself weakening, although they were perfect strangers to me. Soon the train
was to pull out of the station any I saw this young man take his sweet companion in his arms, caress her, and bid
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her farewell. She walked back a little distance and turned and said, calling him by name 'I cannot bear this.' 'I
cannot leave you.' He turned again and walked back, placing his arms around her again, and I want to tell you, my
brothers and sisters, it would take the strongest heart in the world to witness what I had witnessed there without
weakening, Finally the young men had the courage as the train was pulling out and he came down the aisle in the
car and sat quite close to me. I got up, walked over to his seat, sat down beside him, put my arms around him and
said, ‘My boy, this is a hard trail. I listened to all you had to say. I couldn’t help it.' He said. ‘Yes, I obtained my
furlough merely a few days ago and it seems only one night since I came.’ He thanked me for my kindness.
I thought. of Rayola, I didn't see her parting, but I can image what it was. I can see her and Vern in their
separation. As I have gone to the plant I have met her in the halls and as Brother Miickelsen said,. always a
cheerful face. I always asked her how Vern was and with a perfect confidence in her heart, she would say, 'He is all
right ‘ ‘I am looking forward to his coming home. I am preparing and doing all that I can so that that meeting will
Brothers and Sisters, do we realize the sacrifice that this sweet girl has made? I wonder in my mind why
these boys have to die for me. It isn't their war. I had a man say right in my presence, about my age, he said, 'These
boys are fighting their own war not mine.’ How can you say. that? What have these dear boys done, these 18 year
old boys to have to fight for you and you and I? Made him take it back. He knew then that he was wrong. My
heart bleeds - when I thing that the young of our country have to go. What have I, you and all of us done that we
are in this conflict? I wonder how could I repay Vern? If I gave a million or a billion dollars. I could not repay him
for the life that he. boa given for me. That is how I look at these things.
Now then, Rayola, there is only just a few matters that I would like to say to you to give you some comfort.
Brother Mickelsen made a wonderful quotations 'If in this life only we had hope in Christ, we above all men are
most miserable.' And now; Rayola by the holy spirit of promise you have been sealed to your mate for time and
eternity. You keep that vow sacred.. I know it is in the stock and the family and you are prepared. You won’t
became discouraged because of what has happened. You continue and you stay with Vern and you will so conduct
your life and the sweetness of your disposition so that
you can meet this fine young man who has gives his all to the defense of the greatest country of the world and there
you will have his companionship into the ages of all eternity. It is our privilege, our determination, and our
heritage to carry this message to the ends of the earth that many people my inherit the same great blessings you
enjoy and the hope you have is the supreme hope that will give you a resurrection and eternal life.
Bless your sweet Mother, your brothers and your sisters and your friends and you relatives. Bless Brother
Frank, my nephews -what he said Comes straight from the bottom of his heart. Whatt would it be without friends?
My brothers and sisters. I have often thought in my life is there what boy, girl, man or woman would I not go to the
end of the road for to bring to then the message of eternity. God bless you, dear Reyola & may comfort and cheer
come into your heart. May you have joy and happiness I pray in the name of Jesus Christy-Amen."
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ORSON SMITH, FOURTH SPEAKER: "I believe my brothers and sisters, that this is the hardest task I have ever
undertaken. We thought a lot of Vern in our family. The biggest tribute that I could pay to any man, I think, would
be that he had the love of a woman like Rayola. I have watched her closely. She went to California, put up with a
lot to be near him. She drove her trailer house to Seattle and Dame back for the sane purpose.
Sometimes we can drive people to pay respect; we can do things that we like, but when out of the love of the
heart comes devotion like that, there is something. I know Rayola is good to go through it all. I know something
what it means to her. I think that it was Shakespeare that quotes; ‘Cowards die many times before they are dead;
the valiant test of life is death' The greatest tribute that I could pay Rob, who died less than a year ago, was that he
only died once. Rob had courage and confidence to go on. "The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away."
Rayole has always been a bundle of sunshine* Her face lights up and smiles appear and I hope that it
continues that way. I think it was Shakespeare, no, Tonnyson, who made a little poem we don’t like to believe:
'Full many a gem of purest ray serene.
The dark unfathomed eaves of ocean bear.
Full many a flower is born to blush .unseen
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.
In the last days Vern will have restored to him that power of life, temporarily taken away from him. As I
look into life, it seems little time that I was a kid. Life is a short thing –it seems quite a time when I look ahead, and
I hope that our Heavenly Father will. give Rayola comfort to carry on, the comfort to appreciate things in life that
It isn't my purpose to speak long. I deemed it an honor to be considered for it. When Merna called the
school the other day end said that Vern had been killed, it vas a different school day the rest of the days but I know
that we all have the assurance that this life isn't the whole thing and that knowledge and that comfort should add
to our happiness when we think that perhaps after all, life is not just a passing thing.
'Now, concerning the state of the soul between death and the resurrection
Behold it has been made known unto me by an angel
That the spirits of all men, an soon as they are departed
From this mortal body, yea the spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil, are taken home that
God who gave them life
And then shall it come to pass that the
Spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness
Which is called "paradise," a stele of rest, a state of peace.
Therefore, my son, see that you are merciful,
Unto your brethren; deal justly, judge righteously,
And do good continually and if ye do all these things
Then shall ye receive your reward; yea, ye shell have mercy restored unto you again.
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And I think that if Rayola could read those passages occasionally and known that her husband is in a state
o£ passing, a state of rest, instead of out in the unknown where we can't destroy our own soul by ourselves. May
God grant his choicest blessings to Reyola and to her mother end to all the family, that they may feel of this as a
passing and of the sorrow, may it find comfort in their souls and I ask it in His name who takes us all home sooner
"OH MY FATHER" A organ solo was played by Mrs. R. L. Pixton,
REMARKS BY BISHOP OTIS A. PIERCE: "My brothers and sisters, it was always my through in. life to say-
what I thought I could and say it as exactly as I could. Of all the things I can remember about Vern, the thing I like
most was that he was a man when man counted, that any trouble that was brought to his face, he was willing to
give what he thought was right, wouldn’t ask any questions, that was his soul desire. I know today that Vern is
going on because a man’s attitude in knowing and in handling of the things he doe largely governs his when he
leaves this world.
I found amoung my souvenirs some very good material, I would like to pass on today. 'Some of Will
Rogers’ thoughts on the-hereafter were recalled from the pages of a book written by his old friend, the late Charles
M. Russell, Montana's cowboy artist.
Russell died several years ago as he was about to complete the book, "Trails Plowed Under," a collection of
reminiscences of the old west, illustrated by his own paintings and line drawings. The book was published last year
Rogers wrote the introduction in the form of a letter to his old friend in the other world, It was done about
nine years ago.
With characteristic modesty,. Rogers disclaimed the ability too write an introduction. Continuing, he said:
"There ain't much news here to tell you. You know the Big Boss Gent sent a hand over and: got you so
quick, Charley, But I guess he needed a good man pretty bad. I hear they been working short handed over there
pretty much all the tune. I guess it*s hard for Him to get hold of good men; they are just getting scares everywhere,
I bet you hadn't been up there three days until you had out your old pencil and was a drawing something
fumy about some of the eir old punchers. I bet you Mark Twain and old Bill Rye, and Whitcomb Riley, and a
whole bunch of those old joshers was just a-waiting for you to pop in with all the latest ones. What kind of a bird is
Washington and Jefferson? I bet they are regular fellows when. you meet ‘em, ain’t they? Most big men are. I
would like to see the bunch that is gathered around you the first time you tell the one about putting limburger
cheese in the old nester's whiskers. Don't tell that, Charley, until you get Lincoln around you. He would love that. I
bet you and him kinder throw in-together when you get well acquainted. Darn it, when I get to thinking about all
than top hands up there, if I could just hold a horse wrangling job with 'em, I wouldn't mind following that wagon
You sill run onto me old dad up there, Charley; for he was a real cowhand, and I bet he's running a wagon,
and you will pop into some well- kept ranch house over under some cool shady trees and you will be asked to have
dinner, and it will be the best one yea ever had in your life. Weil, when you are a-thanking the women. folks, you
just tell the sweet-looking little old lady that yea knew her boy back on an outfit you used to rope for, and tell the
daughters that you knew their brother, and if you see a cute little rascal running around there, kiss him for me.
"Well, ' can't write . you anymore, Charley. My paper's all wet; it must be raining in this old bunkhouse.
Of .course,.we are all just a-hanging' on here as long as we can, I don't know why we hate to go: we know
it's better there. Maybe it's because we haven't done anything that will live after we are gone.
From you old friend,"
I appreciate very much my association with Vern and Rayola and the splendid attitude that they have had.
I have said many things that enters the heart of an individual for it is the destiny that Cod reaches and answers
your prayers. I would .like to read here the words of a poet:
We are building .our. home in the valley of life,
By the side of eternity sea.
And the things that we do mid these scenes of strife,.
Shall decide what that home shall be,
Every tho’t leaves its trace on the beautiful. Place
Every dead be it evil or fair;
And the structures will show
All the life lived below,
All the sorrow, the sinning, the care.
We are building our home on the beautiful street
While we dwell in the body of fear,
And the roses that bloom so pure and so sweet
Must be watered and nursed by tears.
And the light that will shine with a glory divine
Must be found in the darkness and gloom
and the foundations laind in the clouds and the shade
Of the Path that leads down to the tomb.
We are building our home on eternity's shore
While see walk in the structures of Clay,
We are shipping material, on before us
At the close of each fleeting day.
We are sending the tho't
That our spirits have wrought
And the timber is grown from the seeds we have sown
Mid the shadow of sorrow and pain.
We are building our home may the angels of light
Give us wisdom where ‘ere we may stray
That the mansions eternal may be fashioned alright
And the sunlight of truth be its day--
May the rainbow of love form the arches above
On the pillars of faith strong and high
And our spirits be blessed
With the sweet peace of rest
We .have sent to our home in the sky.
May God help us to accomplish the things and do our jobs as well as Vern did his, I humbly pray in Jesus' name ---
BISHOP OTIS A, PIERCE: 'We shall now-have a tribute by Arthur E. Peterson after which we shall have the
presentation of the flag to Sister Rayola by Chaplain A. E. Buckley."
TRIBUTE BY ARTHUR E. PETERSON: 'My dear brothers and sisters, we have met on this most sad but very
sacred occasion to pay tribute not only to the heroes of Our national life, but. to that great class who are now
feeling the pains of the heroes of. wat; the wives of service men. In giving that tribute today I whis to do it in two
parts. First, I wish to tell a very simple story in a very simple way and follow its application in a prayer that is
adapted for this occasion. First:
Many years ago there lived one of Utah's most famous educators in this community, and one day as he road
the nearby hills, he happened_ upon to boys seemingly holding; something in their hands. By curiosity he
approached them, came up close and said, "Boys what are you doing? One little fellow said,
"Mr. we are flying kites, can't you see them?" The educator looked and said, "No, I can't." "They are out there,
can't you see them?" "No, how do you know they are there?" One little fellow came back with this statement: "I
can tell it by the tug on the string." "I can tell it by the tug on the string."
Today we have given tugs on our hearts strings and I want to say to Sister Gordon that when she has tugs
on her heart's strings that come so great that she can hardly stand them, she has some things she can, do. First, she
can build up the sacred memory of her loving husband. Second, she can think back of this day, the beautiful
thoughts expressed, the prayers and the music rendered and the heap of her friends. Third, she can go back to her
philosophy of life and she has one to explain this death. She can asko God and ask Him in prayer and in the future,
Sister Gordon, sometimes read over this adapted prayer that is a blessing of the American Legion Post Ho. 35
Utah. This is the prayer---a tribute to wives of service men and dedicated to Sister Gordon, whose husband lost his
life in the service of this country, and as I read it, let each of us say it to ourselves silently.
"Almighty God, when our vision fails, and our understanding is darkened by the tragedies of war; when the ways
of life seem hard and its brightness gone, grant us the wisdom that deepens faith end enlarges trust. Give us that
quiet confidence, patient trust, and living faith in Thee to console ourselves when Thou hest seen fit to take from
our midst an exemplary national hero.
Grant his sorrowing wife and kin calm assurance that *Thy will be done' always for the welfare of all both here
and in the hereafter.
Help us today to recognize the characteristics of loving and faithful wives who must bear the anguish from the
cruelties of war. Throughout the years Thou hast taught them to have courage and hope to press onward with
hearts fixed on Thee. Thou hest directed their minds and watched over their paths with guiding love. Thou hast
given them .the desire never to doubt Thou wilt lead them to a worthy end, and that Thou hest in store for them a
perfect gladness of which at times we see some glimpses here. Thou hast given them the power to heal their broken
hearts by faith in Thee, mad the willingness to share human sufferings that Thy way of life may prevail.
And now we beseech Thy blessings upon them. Fortify them against disappointment and calamity. Preserve them
from yielding to dejection, and teach them that evil will not hurt them if in true loyalty and affection which they
once gave their loving husbands, they seek refuge in Thee.
Draw their hearts unto Thee. In Thy tender mercy, allow Thy spirit .to reach them, comfort their broken hearts,
and prepare them 'to meet the future with faith in Thee and a confidence that in so doing Thy guiding hand will
direct their every-earthy effort.
In their spirit of loyalty and faithfulness, we beg Thy mercy. With bitter tears me invoke Thee to end all wars and
implore the peace for which we long and be our help, our protection end safeguard.'
Chaplain Buckley, will you present this prayer to Sister Gordon at the presentation of the flag ?"
CHAPLAIN BUCKLEY: "The Government of the 'United States presents to you this flag through. the Amerioan
Legion under which our camrade served., and now in memory of our departed oomrade, let us stand in silent
BISHOP OTIS A. PIERCE: "After our benediction by Golden Howlett, we will ask you to remain seated until we
have the salute fired and the taps sounded by Elmen Molckelsen and W.O. Boberg, then you are dismissed."
BENEDICTION BY GOLDEN HOWLETT: "Our heavenly Father, at the close of this memorial service, we feel to
return to Thee the gratitude of our hearts for the pleasant surroundings in which me have been able to meet, for
the peace and the quiet, for the flowers, for the words of comfort and the gospel messages given here today.
We read God moves in a mysterious way his wonders to perform and we know, Heavenly Father, there is
no sacrifice given but what is returned to us in the future time with greater extreme, and we ask Thee, as relatives
and friends., as the days come and go, that we may extend a hand of friendship to our Sister and greet her on
occasions that will help strengthen her along with her Mother and others of the family, and bless us all, Heavenly
Father, that we will understand in a measure the cause of these things and the benefit that we will derive in time to
come through the struggle we are in.
Dismiss us with Thy blessings, go with us to our homes, be with us that we may be protected, that Thy spirit may
be continue with us, we ask in the name of Jesus Christ—Amen.”
BISHOP OTIS A. PIERCE: “In behalf of the family, me certainly wish to thank all of those who have been with us
today, and all those who have in any way assisted on the program. This concluded the program and you are all
dismissed from this point,” - 10 –
FIND A GRAVE
Willliam Vernon Gordon
Birth: 10 Jul 1912 Lincoln, Bingham, Idaho
Death: 23 Feb 1944, WWII Bougainville, North Solomons,
Papua New Guinea
Burial: 12 Mar 1944, Draper City Cemetery Draper, Salt
Lake County, Utah
Your tombstone stands neglected and alone.
The name and date are chiseled out on polished, marbled stone.
It reaches out to all who care. It is too late to mourn.
You did not know that I exist. You died and I was born.
Yet each of us are cells of you in flesh, in blood, in bone.
Our heart contracts and beats a pulse entirely not our own.
Dear Ancestor, the place you filled so long ago
Spreads out among the ones you left who would have loved you so.
I wonder as you lived and loved, I wonder if you knew
That someday I would find this spot and come to visit you.