Navy Veteran James R. Gorby is today's Veteran of the Day.

Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Navy Veteran James R. Gorby, who served during the Cold War and assisted in fighting two major fires, saving countless lives.

Following in the footsteps of his brothers, James Rogers Gorby enlisted in the Navy in 1954. After completing his training, he served aboard the Essex-class aircraft carrier USS Antietam. USS Antietam sailed twice in the Middle East by order of the president in response to ongoing crises, though Gorby was never involved in active combat.

While deployed to the Middle East, an armed helicopter malfunctioned during regular practice operations and crashed into the ship, causing a fire. Trained in firefighting, Gorby quickly responded. Gorby maintained a clear head and began dousing the aircraft with water, avoiding an ammunition cook-off. After working tirelessly to combat the flames without success, he prepared to jump ship, but saw the damage control chief running toward the fire with another hose. Gorby realized together they might be able to bring the fire under control, so he risked his life and ran back into the fire. There, he and the damage control chief extinguished the fire. Although several sailors lost their lives in the accident, the entire ship and many more lives could have been lost if the ammunition or gas tanks had ignited.

After completing his service with USS Antietam, Gorby transferred to Naval Air Test Center at Patuxent River, Maryland. There, the Navy tested various aircraft and technologies. After one of these tests as the aircraft taxied back to the hangar, Gorby noticed a fire on the bottom of the aircraft. He grabbed a fire extinguisher and alerted the pilot inside. After helping the pilot exit the aircraft, Gorby again risked his life attempting to extinguish the fire before it spread to the fuel tanks.

Gorby discharged from Patuxent Naval Air Test Center in 1958 at the rank of aviation boatswain’s mate third class. Though his actions during his service made him eligible for several awards, he refused to accept them. After leaving the Navy, Gorby returned to his home in West Virginia. He married and worked as a machinist until retirement.

We honor his service.

Nominate a Veteran for #VeteranOfTheDay

Do you want to light up the face of a special Veteran? Have you been wondering how to tell your Veteran they are special to you? VA’s #VeteranOfTheDay social media feature is an opportunity to highlight your Veteran and his/her service.

It’s easy to nominate a Veteran. Visit our blog post about nominating to learn how to create the best submission.

Veterans History Project

This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at


Additional writer: Lauren Dahler

Editor: Elissa Tatum

Fact checker: L. Rebeca Ahring/Junsok Ko 

Graphic artist: Michelle Zischke

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Published on Aug. 24, 2020

Estimated reading time is 2.5 min.

Views to date: 100

One Comment

  1. Senior Veterans Care Network August 24, 2020 at 3:16 pm

    We honor the service of James Rogers Gorby.

Comments are closed.

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