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Ex-US Air Force pilot raises funds to build water towers in Gambia

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For the last three years, a resident of Scott County, Bruce Gordon, has been sending money to The Gambia to build water towers across the West African country.

Gordon is an 89-year-old veteran who served in the United States Air Force for 20 years. After his time as a fighter pilot, Gordon went into electronic warfare for a time, then ran a small airline in Saudi Arabia. He returned to the US for analysis of ships and aircraft maintenance before retiring in Georgetown.

With all of his tech savvy, Gordon was suspicious when he got a Facebook message from Gambia.

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“I was immediately suspicious,” Gordon said, “but this man was not asking for much. His father had died, and his mother was dying. He had a younger brother and sister and no way to support them.”

Gordon lives with what he calls “the spirit of attack.”

“There were always things off to the side. There are always things saying no, don’t do it,” Gordon said. “The spirit of attack. When you go out and see it, you do it.” After doing his research, Gordon decided to help.

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“When I got my message, the first thing I did was go to Google Maps and find out where Gambia was,” said Gordon.

Gordon started by sending money. Then he helped with the house and bought solar panels to provide light. Finally, he moved on to water towers. Gordon’s experience with solar panels gave him a bright idea.

“We built the first water tower with solar panels,” he said. “That was one side of town. It turned out people on the other side of town needed it too, so I built a second one on the other side of town.”

The first two towers went towards drinking water. Then Gordon had another idea.

“I said, ‘We need to do something so they can sustain themselves.’ So you can see that the dry ground behind it only grew casaba, and not very much of that. With the water, in two years, the crops were growing.”

The first tower went up in 2021. Now, Gordon has provided for six towers in total. Throughout the process, the men in the village of Kembujeh continued sending pictures. But Gordon still had reservations about telling people about this project.

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