The following page tells how I initially learned about the sacrifice of 2nd Lt. Robert Thorpe, an aviator from the 39th Fighter Squadron who gave his life in WWII. It is an excerpt from Chapter 26 of a book, Relentless Pursuit, that is being written by author Ken Dooley. The book is scheduled for publication in summer of 2015.

The Initial Meeting Print

The coffee shop was packed with the usual summer tourists and some of the Newport regulars as Representative Peter Martin was greeted by author Ken Dooley. They were there to celebrate the successful pardoning of Irish immigrant John Gordon, a man who had been hanged in 1845 for the murder of Amasa Sprague, a wealthy Cranston, Rhode Island mill owner.

Dooley had written a play, "The Murder Trial of John Gordon" which representative Martin had attended in 2011 at the Park Cinema Theatre in Cranston, Rhode Island.

When Representative Martin learned, from this play, the unfair treatment to which John Gordon had been subjected, he introduced a bill which led to the pardon of John Gordon by Governor Lincoln Chafee 166 years after his hanging.

Dooley had invited Martin to the coffee shop to thank him for his efforts.

As they were talking about the Gordon case, Dooley asked Martin "If you could do this for an Irish immigrant who was hanged 166 years ago, what do you think you could do for a young man who was shot down and murdered by the Japanese in World War II?"

Martin replied "I don't know tell me the story."

Dooley went on to tell the story of growing up in Cranston, Rhode Island with the family of Second Lt. Robert Thorpe. He told of the frustrated attempts by Thorpe's family, especially his brother, Gil, to get some recognition of the fact that this young 20 year old had lost his life in WWII.

Dooley explained how Gil Thorpe, now 83 years old, had spent many years trying to get recognition for his brothers sacrifice. It had been 70 years since Gil saw his brother off to war.

Dooley went on to explain how he had spent considerable time and money trying to investigate the death of this young aviator and the attempts that had been made to retrieve his remains.

Representative Martin, a member of the Rhode Island House Committee on Veterans Affairs, immediately took interest in this case. He felt it would be appropriate to provide some posthumous recognition of this sacrifice to the remaining members of the Thorpe family.

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Peter Martin