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Captain Dominic Lee Pudwill Gorie
(1957 — Present)

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Dominic Lee Pudwill Gorie was born May 02, 1957, to parents Paul and Shirley Pudwill in Lake Charles, Louisiana.  Due to his father's Air Force career, the family moved frequently with stays in Minnestoa, Illinois, and Florida.  He graduated ninth in a class of 1,100 students from Miami Palmetto High School, Miami, Florida, in 1975.  He received a Presidential appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, and graduated from there in 1979 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Ocean Engineering.  He later went on to earn a Master of Science degree from the University of Tennessee in Aviation Systems in 1990.

 

Captain Gorie was designated a Naval Aviator in 1981 and flew the A-7E Corsair II with Attack Squadron 46 off of the USS AMERICA (CV-66).  Transitioning to Strike Fighter Squadron 132 in 1983, he flew the F/A-18 Hornet off of the USS CORAL SEA (CV-43) until 1986.  After attending the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School in 1987 at Naval Air Station (NAS) Patuxent River, Maryland, he served as a Test Pilot at the Naval Air Test Center (also at NAS Patuxent River) from 1988 to 1990.  Captain Gorie was next assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 87 flying the F/A-18 off of the USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT (CVN-71) until 1992.  During this time, he participated in Operation Desert Storm, flying 38 combat missions.  In 1992, he received orders to U.S. Space Command in Colorado Springs for two years before reporting to Strike Fighter Squadron 106 for F/A-18 refresher training.  He was en route to his command tour of Strike Fighter Squadron 37 when he was selected by NASA (National Aeronautics & Space Administration) as an Astronaut Candidate.

 

Captain Dominic L. Pudwill Gorie, USN

Captain Dominic L. Pudwill Gorie, USN.

  Photo courtesy of NASA.

 

VA-46 Clansmen Squadron Patch
Attack Squadron 46
(VA-46) "The Clansmen"
VFA-132 Privateers Squadron Patch 
Strike Fighter Squadron 132 (VFA-132) "The Privateers"
VFA-87 Golden Warriors Squadron Patch
Strike Fighter Squadron 87
(VFA-87) "Golden Warriors"
VFA-106 Gladiators Squadron Patch
Strike Fighter Squadron 106 (VFA-106) "The Gladiators"

 

(L-R) Astronauts Dominic Pudwill Gorie and Mark Kelly in the cockpit of space shuttle ENDEAVOUR (OV-105) while rendezvousing with the International Space Station on December 07, 2001, during STS-108.  Gorie served as the mission commander and Kelly served as shuttle pilot. 
(L-R) Astronauts Dominic Pudwill Gorie and Mark Kelly in
the cockpit of space shuttle ENDEAVOUR (OV-105) while
rendezvousing with the International Space Station on
December 07, 2001, during STS-108.  Gorie served as the
mission commander and Kelly served as shuttle pilot.
Photo courtesy of NASA.
Mission Patch for STS-91
STS-91
Mission Patch for STS-99
STS-99
Mission Patch for STS-108
STS-108
Mission Patch for STS-123

STS-123

 

Captain Gorie reported to Johnson Space Center in Houston in December of 1994.  He completed one year of training and evaluation before being initially assigned to work safety issues for the Astronaut Office.  He served as a spacecraft communicator (CAPCOM) in Mission Control for numerous Space Shuttle flights, and was chief of the Astronaut Shuttle Branch.  From June 02-12, 1998, he served as the pilot for the Space Shuttle DISCOVERY (OV-103) during the STS-91 mission to the Russian MIR space station.  From February 11-22, 2000, he served as the pilot for the Space Shuttle ENDEAVOUR (OV-105) during the STS-99 mission.  His next flight aboard ENDEAVOUR was as Crew Commander during the STS-108 mission to the International Space Station (ISS) from December 05-17, 2001.  Captain Gorie returned to space for the fourth time as Crew Commander aboard ENDEAVOUR during the STS-123 mission to the ISS from March 11-26, 2008.

 

The dangers of space flight were not lost on the Gorie family.  In a 2008 interview with the Orlando Sentinel, Gorie's mother recalled his 1998 launch and her grandson's reaction:

 

"I remember Dom's son, Andrew, was maybe 4, 5, 6 at the time.  I was standing with him when the shuttle came down.  And he looked up at me and said, 'Grandma, he's really coming home.  He's really coming home.'  This little boy, what he'd been feeling this entire time was that his dad was gone.  He was terrified."

 

In a separate interview with the New York Times that same year prior to commanding the STS-123 mission, Captain Gorie noted that for his first flight since the loss of the space shuttle COLUMBIA (OV-102), concern for his safety by his children "was on a different, a higher level than it was when they were kids" and that "This mission was viewed with a little bit more concern. ... They realized that this is what I was in the business for—they knew I was excited about it, and supported me very, very well. ...  I think if they had to make the choice themselves, it would be a tough one—but I asked them, and they said 'Go for it.'"

 

Sadly, Captain Gorie had firsthand knowledge of such dangers at the age of 5 when his father, Captain Paul Pudwill, USAF, was lost in an aircraft crash in January of 1963.  Captain Pudwill's B-47 Stratojet bomber developed ice on its wings.  Unable to return to base in time, he ordered his crew to bail out and then steered it free of populated areas.  Though he made a last-minute effort to eject, it was too late.  He was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

 

Captain Gorie's space flights were a way for his aunts and uncles to reconnect with their lost brother, according to Anthony Pudwill, Gorie's younger brother.  Each flight was like a family reunion.

 

Captain Gorie was the recipient of numerous awards and honors.  Among them were the following:

 

Defense Superior Service Medal Defense Superior Service Medal

 

USN Astronaut Badge

USN Astronaut Badge

 

Legion of Merit Legion of Merit
Distinguished Flying Cross with one Oak Leaf Cluster Distinguished Flying Cross with one Oak Leaf Cluster & one
     with Combat V
Defense Meritorious Service Medal Defense Meritorious Service Medal
Meritorious Service Medal Joint Meritorious Service Medal
Air Medal Air Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster
Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with Combat V & one Oak Leaf Cluster

 

NASA Gold Astronaut Lapel Pin

NASA Gold Astronaut Lapel Pin

 

Space Flight Medal NASA Space Flight Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters
National Defense Service Medal National Defense Service Medal
Southwest Asia Service Medal Ribbon Southwest Asia Service Medal Ribbon
Kuwait Liberation Medal Ribbon (Saudi Arabia) Kuwait Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia)
Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait) Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait)

 

Captain Gorie was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with Combat V for leading an attack force of twenty-nine (29) aircraft in an assault on heavily defended targets in Kuwait during Operation Desert Storm.  During the presentation ceremony, he chose to have his father's own medal—awarded posthumously in 1963—pinned on his chest.

 

Captain Gorie retired from the U.S. Navy in September of 2005 and from NASA in June of 2010.  In his career, he accumulated over 6,000 hours in over 35 aircraft with over 600 carrier landings.  Additionally, he logged over 47 days in space aboard four separate shuttle flights.  During his time with NASA, he traveled around the United States as a guest lecturer, working with elementary, middle, and high school students promoting studies in science as career options.  On November 11, 2008, he was inducted into the Louisiana Veterans Hall of Honor which seeks to honor servicemen and women from Louisiana who have had outstanding or unique military careers.

 

Captain Gorie is married to Wendy Lu Williams of Midland, Texas.  They have two children:  Kimberly and Andrew.

 

 

 

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Sources used in the compilation of this article:

 

"Astronaut's Mom, Family Brace for Endeavour Liftoff" by Robert PM-irez. The Orlando Sentinel (March 09, 2008).

Biographical Data for Dominic L. Pudwill Gorie, by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (June 2010).

"Mother Ready to See Her Son Soar", by Gary Taylor.  The Orlando Sentinel (May 22, 1998).

Notable Graduates—Dominic L. Pudwill Gorie, by United States Naval Academy.

"The Crew of STS-123" by John Schwartz.  The New York Times (March 10, 2008)

Who's Who of NASA Astronauts, by Lee Ellis.  American Group Publishing (January, 2004).

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