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Walter S. Gorka

 

Walter Stanley Gorka—born on 24 March 1922 at Windsor Locks, Conn.—enlisted in the Naval Reserve at Hartford, Conn., on 15 May 1940 and eventually attained the rate of aviation ordnanceman, third class.

 

Attached to Escort Scouting Squadron (VGS) 27 which was embarked in the auxiliary carrier Suwannee (ACV-27) at the time of Operation "Torch"—the invasion of French North Africa—Gorka served as bombardier and gunner in the aircrew of a Grumman TBF-1 Avenger of that squadron.

 

On 8 November 1942—the first day of the landings— Suwannee's air group bombed French ships and shore installations in the Casablanca area, including the immobile but formidable battleship Jean Bart and the coast defense and shore batteries at Table d'Aukasha. Two days later, Gorka went on an attack mission against a French submarine. The French antiaircraft fire proved deadly accurate, and Gorka's plane was shot down.

 

For his performance of duty with VGS-27 during "Torch," Gorka received the Air Medal posthumously.

 

(APD-114: dp. 1,650; l. 306'0"; b. 37'0"; dr. 13'9"; s. 23.6 k.; cpl. 221; a. 1 5", 6 40mm., 6 20mm.; cl. Crosley)

 

Walter S. Gorka (APD-114) was laid down on 3 April 1945 at Hingham, Mass., by the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Co.; launched on 26 May 1945; sponsored by Mrs. Josephine B. Gorka; and commissioned on 7 August 1945, Comdr. R. G. Werner, USNR, in command.

 

Following fitting out, Walter S. Gorka conducted shakedown training in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, from 2 to 27 September and subsequently carried some 140 officers and men to the United States. Upon her return, she was ordered to remain in commission, in reserve, at the St. John's River reserve group at Green Cove Springs, Fla. She served there as headquarters ship during the deactivation of several of her sister ships. The ship was decommissioned in January 1947 and struck from the Navy list in June 1960. Walter S. Gorka was subsequently acquired by the government of Ecuador for conversion and use as a floating power plant