Gordon Kobler was born April 1, 1922 in Newark Valley, NY. He moved to Stewartsville with his family in 1935, where he attended Phillipsburg High School for three years. His family then moved to Rockaway, NJ, where Gordon graduated from high school in 1939. During his school years, he attained the Boy Scout rank of Life Scout.
After high school, Gordon was employed by Aircraft Radio in Rockaway Valley, NJ until he was drafted into the US Army. He entered active duty on March 30, 1944. After completing training in Fort Dix, NJ and Camp Wheeler in Macon, GA, he went to Camp Kilmer, NJ which was an embarkation point for troops going to the European Theater during WW II.
On September 20, 1944, Gordon departed the New York harbor on the Queen Mary. At the time the ship was called the Gray Ghost and served as a troop carrier, ferrying 10,000 troops at a time to the European Theater. (As a side note, Sir Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of England, was also on board the ship for that sailing.) During the Atlantic crossing, the ship altered course every five minutes to avoid being targeted by German U-boats.
The ship arrived in Glasgow, Scotland on September 26, 1944 and from there Gordon went on to France, just months after the allied D-day invasion. He was assigned as a rifleman to the 95th Infantry Division under General George Patton’s command. In November, 1944 his unit headed toward Germany, coming under constant fire during their movement from town to town through France and Germany. In Saarlautern, Gordon received a leg wound. Instead of going back to the aid station for treatment, he stayed with his unit and consequently was never awarded the Purple Heart for his wound. Efforts are underway now to secure that medal for him.
After moving through France, parts of Germany, Luxembourg, and finally Belgium, Gordon saw the end of his fighting in April, 1944. His unit returned to France and experienced a May Day Parade celebrating the end of the war in Europe. Soon thereafter, his unit returned to Newport News, VA on a US Navy ship. After 30 days leave, Gordon reported back to Fort Dix and then went to Camp Shelby, MS for training in anticipation of being deployed to Japan. The war ended while he was at Camp Shelby.
Gordon separated from the Army on April 20, 1946. While in the service, he earned the Combat Infantryman’s Badge and was awarded the Bronze Star medal for his action against the enemy in Saarlautern, Germany. Approval and award of the Purple Heart is still pending.
After leaving the service, Gordon had the opportunity to become a carpenter and used his GI Bill to attend carpentry school. He worked as a carpenter from 1948 til 1988, building over 50 houses plus a number of barns in the area. In 1969, Gordon became the Property Tax Collector for Greenwich Township, a position he held until 2010. He continued to consult for the township until 2013.
Gordon has been an active member of the community since he separated from the service, serving as a volunteer fireman in Stewartsville for 25 years. He is a Charter Member (71 years) of the Mecsey-Bishop American Legion Post 456, and in fact helped build the existing Legion building. He is a member of Stewartsville Presbyterian Church and is also a 65-year member of the Masons and Tall Cedars.
In recognition of his volunteer work and his many contributions to the town, Gordon was honored by the Phillipsburg Lions Club, and in 2013, Washington Street in Stewartsville was given the additional name Kobler Way. Gordon was most recently honored in July, 2018, at the Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World during the evening Flag Retreat ceremony (see YouTube Video).
Gordon was married for 67 years to the former Doris Cole of Stewartsville until her passing in 2010. They were married in the house in which he currently resides. Gordon has a son, Kenneth of Easton, a daughter, Dawn Barreto of Stewartsville, four grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.