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Website by Pat Adams. pat@tennesseeconcerts.com
Coast Guard Award Winning
Petty Officer Walter Joseph Gorski
Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash Rescuer
on the evening of October 20, 1977
Contact Pat Adams at:
pat@tennesseeconcerts.com
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We received information from Rachel Michaux, years ago. Her brother Walter J. Gorski was
instrumental in helping out at the plane crash scene and received this Coast Guard Award

Her Story: Rachel Michaux - Remembering My Brother
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 scanned 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.

See Rachel's tribute to her late brother at https://www.flickr.com/photos/rachelmichaux/2948371488/
Rachel's page.
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.



Original Size for easier reading



Read news accounts of the disaster here: www.tennesseeconcerts.com/planecrash.html



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, (28 years ago today) 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).



The memory of my brother influenced me to go into the medical field, and I still have some of the medical equipment he used.

UNITED STATES COAST GUARD

THIS IS TO CERTIFY THAT
THE COMMANDMENT OF THE UNITED STATES COAST GUARD
HAS AWARDED THE

COAST GUARD ACHIEVEMENT MEDAL

TO
WALTER JOSEPH GORSKI
HOSPITAL CORPSMAN SECOND CLASS
UNITED STATED COAST GUARD

FOR

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

TO

WALTER JOSEPH GORSKI
HOSPITAL CORPSMAN SECOND CLASS
UNITED STATE COAST GUARD

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 Statio
n, New Orleans, Louisiana and participating in the rescue efforts of twenty-five per-
sons on board aircraft N55VN, a Convair C131, which crashed in a densely wooded area 12 mile south-
west 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 evalu-
ated 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 Offi-
car 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.

The Operational Disting
uishing Device is authorized.

*********************************************************************************************
Need All My Friends
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.