THIS IS TO CERTIFY THAT THE COMMANDMENT OF THE UNITED STATES COAST GUARD
HAS AWARDED THE COAST GUARD ACHIEVEMENT MEDAL
WALTER JOSEPH GORSKI
HOSPITAL CORPSMAN SECOND CLASS
UNITED STATED COAST GUARD
PROFESSIONAL ACHIEVEMENT AND SUPERIOR PERFORMANCE OF DUTY
ON 20 OCTOBER 1977 GIVEN THIS 17TH DAY OF MAY 1978
CITATION TO ACCOMPANY THE AWARD OF THE COAST GUARD ACHIEVEMENT MEDAL
Petty Officer GORSKI is cited for professional achievement in the superior of duty on the
night of 20 October 1977, while serving as Hospital Corpsman on board HH3F 1491 stationed at Coast Guard Air Station, New Orleans, Louisiana and participating in the rescue efforts of twenty-five persons on board aircraft N55VN, a Convair C131, which crashed in a densely wooded area 12 mile southwest of McComb, Mississippi. Upon notification of the crash by the duty officer, Petty Officer
GORSKI immediately gathered what medical supplies he felt would be needed at the crash site. Arriv-
ing on scene, which had been located approximately one hour earlier by HH3F CGNR 1496, Petty Officer GORSKI disembarked HH3F CGNR 1491 in a field several hundred yards from the crash site. Guided through a swamp and a densely wooded area by a State Policeman, Petty Officer GORSKI arrived at the scene of the crash to find numerous people milling about in a confused state. He immediately began to querry bystanders where he might find the injured, but received little cooperation. Searching in the darkness, Petty Officer Gorski eventually came across a seriously injured victim approximately thirty feet from the wreckage. Though there were several persons with the victim, none had rendered any first aid. Petty Officer GORSKI immediately took control. He administered extensive first aid, performed a diagnostic examination and requested a litter. Petty Officer GORSKI then commandingly appointed several bystanders to be litter bearers. He carefully instructed the people carrying the litter in the proper proceedure for transferring the injured victim to and from a litter and advised them what to tell the ambulance attendants concerning the vitims condition. In a similar manner, Petty Officer GORSKI located and rendered first aid to four other victims whose conditions he evaluated as either serious or critical. In all cases he had to appoint bystanders litter bearers. Petty Officer GORSKI's skill, knowledge, leadership, and immediate actions upon arriving at the crash site, though hampered by numerous bystanders, densely wooded terrain, and darkness, resulted in the speedy litter bearers additionally reduced the possibility of further injuries to the victims. Petty Officers GORSKI's initiative, aggressiveness and devotion to duty are mostly heartily commended and are in keeping the highest traditions of the United States Coast Guard.
Her Story: Rachel Michaux - Remembering My Brother Petty Officer Walter Gorski
Multiple chats with Pat Adams from the www.TennesseeConcerts.com website
This is a scanned image of the Coast Guard Achievement Award my older brother received for doing his job as a corpsman the night of October 20, 1977, when a small plane carrying the members of the rock-n-roll band Lynyrd Skynyrd crashed in a wooded area southwest of McComb, Mississippi. The citation includes a description of the rescue efforts that night. My brother received this commendation as a result of being the first medical professional on the scene of the plane crash, tending to the victims he would later learn to be members of the rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd. My brother drowned only a few years later on October 16, 1980, in Norfolk, VA, where he was stationed at the Naval hospital.
Because he was so much older than me, I only had the privilege to meet him twice in my life, and I only remember one of those occasions, when I was 7 years old (the summer before the crash). My mother said that my brother called the day after the crash to tell her about it. From what she remembers, he described the scene as chaotic and really difficult as it was swampy and there was a risk of alligators and snakes and such, plus that it was dark and hard to get the rescue personnel to the scene. For my brother, it was all in a days work--this is what he had been trained to do and he was happy that they were able to keep the casualties to a minimum. Since I never had the chance to talk to my brother about this, and only came across the award many, many years after his death, reading the news articles plus eye-witness accounts on your site has painted a better picture of what my brother accomplished, and I appreciate this very much. I find it eerie that my brother drowned nearly 3 years to the day of that rescue mission, but his drowning had nothing to do with another rescue, and had been ruled an accident. I am overwhelmed by the response of the fans of Lynyrd Skynyrd to my brother 'just doing his job', and that so many others, survivors and rescuers, are coming together to commemorate that day. I have continued to follow your website, and appreciate reading all of the accounts and tributes. I know my brother did not act alone, and even he attributed the success of the rescue to others who were on the scene, even if the military commendation was not as explicit. I was just a week shy of my 8th birthday when this tragedy happened, (and probably still mourning the death of Elvis Presley just 2 months prior! Lol) I only learned about my brother's involvement almost 30 years later when I went through some boxes of family memorabilia. Reading your last email touched me. Pat, I'm so glad I contacted you years ago! It may seem strange, but my brother Walt has been a hero and enigma to me my whole life--even before I knew about his involvement in the Lynyrd Skynyrd tragedy. (and, sadly, no one here in France knows the music of Lynyrd Skynyrd). Our family remembers him fondly, as the oldest son, beloved brother, nephew and cousin, the lost young father. He was barely 29 when he died. It's true, isn't it? - the good die young? I only met my brother twice in my life, that I can recall. He was 18 when I was born and he joined the Coast Guard the summer before my birth. My only real memory of him was when he came home once when I was like 5, and he taught me how to roller skate on the old tin skates we had (best memory EVER for me as a child), The last time any of our family saw him was at our sister's wedding, two months before the crash. Many years later, by chance, I happened to live close to the Naval base in Norfolk, Virginia, and near where his body was found after he drowned. I've read on different sites how many feel my brother was a hero that day in Gillisburg. I'm sure Walt would say he was just doing his job. He always wanted to work in medicine, according to our mom. He had a talent for it, even as a child, when he cut his leg deeply on a fence, and, (as mom tells it) he kept the police officer who aided him calm by explaining the different layers of tissue that were exposed! "Your website TennesseeConcerts.com has helped me put the pieces together of a day in my brother's life that I was too young to really know or understand at the time it happened. "I want to share one of my Flickr photos with you. It's called: "Remembering My Brother". It is the canned image of the Coast Guard Achievement award my brother Walter J. Gorski received for his efforts at the crash scene in Gillsburg, Mississippi at the time of the plane crash that includes a description of his actions during the rescue operations of that fatal crash.
VIDEO: A WJXT Documentary on the plane crash.
Tom Wills traveled to Mississippi to report on the plane crash that killed three band members of Lynyrd Skynyrd, an assistant road manager, two pilots and injured several others. Video from YouTube.
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