Gordon R. Starck "Gordy", 91, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, passed away Sunday morning December 29, 2013. He was born on August 20, 1922 to Amanda and Raymond Starck, and was one of five siblings. In January 1942 Gordy enlisted in the United States Army; his courage and commitment to country in World War II earned him numerous military decorations, including the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Good Conduct Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, Presidential Unit Citation, Combat Medic Badge, and Parachutists Wings with four Combat Jump Stars (the jumps were behind enemy lines).
Gordy took basic training at Camp Grant, IL, advanced training as a medic at Camp Robinson, AR, and Airborne training at Fort Benning, GA; after which he participated in pre-deployment jungle training in Panama with the 551st Parachute Infantry Battalion and in airborne operations at Camp McCall NC. Gordy deployed to Great Britain in late 1942 where he was assigned to the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment and received combat medic and additional jump training, and with the 505th PIR, he redeployed by ship to North Africa, where the unit was attached to the 82nd Airborne Division and he joined in its preparation for the invasion of Sicily. On July 6, 1943, he jumped into Sicily with the 505th under the command of MG Jim Gavin, in what was the first regimental-size combat jump, to take on Hermann Göring's Panzer Division and stop its attack on the Allied beachhead. On September 14, 1943, Gordy participated in a night jump with the 505th over the Salerno, Italy beachhead, giving relief to Allied landing forces and, two weeks later, he participated in the liberation of Naples. In late 1944, the 82nd Airborne redeployed to England where it trained for the Normandy invasion; on June 6, 1944, Gordy jumped into Normandy with the 505th where the 82nd Airborne spearheaded the European invasion and his unit liberated the first town in France, St. Mère Église. On September 17, 1944, Gordy jumped into Grosbeek, Holland as the 505th and the 82nd led the way in Operation Market Garden (made famous by the book and movie "A Bridge Too Far"); it was the largest Airborne invasion in history, and Gordy's unit took the Nijmegen Bridge at terrible human cost. On December 16, 1944 Gordy marched into the Battle of the Bulge with the 505th and 82nd to stop the German counter-offensive by fighting the enemy to a standstill at St. Vith and the Salm River and giving relief to the 101st Airborne Division at Bastogne, Belgium. Gordy continued to serve with his unit in Europe until VE Day. On October 20, 1945 he was honorably discharged with the rank of Technician 3 at Fort Sheridan, IL.
Gordy was presented the Veteran Lifetime Achievement Award by the Wisconsin Board of Veterans Affairs on August 19, 2010 for his record of exemplary service as a military service member, US veteran and WI citizen.
Following the war, Gordy returned to Milwaukee to continue his pre-war apprenticeship, making a career as a tool and die maker for Allis-Chalmers in West Allis, WI; he was also a member of UAW Local 66. He married and raised a family along with magnificent vegetable gardens and he taught his children to appreciate nature, especially fishing.
Gordy was a proud man with solid convictions and great inner strength; he valued family, hard work, and community. His keen interest in city planning stirred him to become an active participant in local politics. He ran for public office, serving Franklin, WI for six years as Alderman, four years as Mayor, and many years on various boards and commissions. Gordy was a long time a member of St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church and the Knights of Columbus. Gordy was a Life Member of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, and the Badger State Chapter of the 82nd Airborne Division Association. Gordy served as Commander of American Legion Post 192 for seven years, where he was a founding member and Trustee of the Badger Chapter of the 82nd Airborne Division Association, and he dedicated 19 years (25,000+ hours) of volunteer service to the Milwaukee Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center.
Gordy is survived by nearly "the whole fam-damily", consisting of wife Margie of 32 years, first wife Audrey, seven children [Sandra Starck of Eau Claire WI; Jeffrey (Laura) Starck of Deer River, MN; Jennifer Mattern of Menomonee Falls, WI; Tom (June) and Brad (Tina) McCarthy of Nakomis, FL; Jay (Jane) Christensen of Greenfield WI; and Debbie (Dale) Beier of New Berlin, WI], five step-children [Gail Edstrand of Waukesha, WI; Kenneth (Brenda) Bembenek of West Allis, WI; Donna (Mike) Kirkvold of Waukesha, WI; Thomas Bembenek of Stevens Point, WI; and Randy Bembenek of Lannon, WI], plus eighteen grandchildren and seventeen great-grandchildren.
Gordy was preceded in death by his father Raymond, mother Amanda, sisters Marian and Virginia, and brothers Kenneth and Ronald, second wife Ivadell, and grandchild BJ McCarthy.
Gordy's indomitable spirit and quick humor will remain inspirational; he was deeply loved and will be greatly missed. The Starck Family would like to thank the Hospice personnel at Luther Manor for the comfort and attention they provided Gordy in his last days, and also the Clement J. Zablocki Veterans Hospital of Milwaukee for many years of prior medical care.
Visitation will be held from 11:00AM until 1:00PM on Saturday January 4, 2014, with mass and a military burial immediately following, at St. Martin of Tours Parish (7963 S. 116th Street, Franklin, WI).