John W. Gassett rescued Loretta B. Godwin from burning, Jacksonville, Florida, September 3, 1964. When fire broke out at night in their house trailer, Mrs. Godwin, 42, searched the bedroom for the family dog while her husband tried to reach an outside door but sustained burns. He grasped his wife by the wrist, but she broke away from him and continued her search. The husband climbed out through the bathroom window and shouted for help, attracting John, 17, schoolboy, and others. Flames which had broken through the walls covered more than half of the trailer, threatening tanks of propane gas and kerosene. John and his father ran to a window of the bedroom, toward which the flames were spreading rapidly. With axes they chopped an opening 20 inches wide from the window to the floor. John, wearing only trousers and shoes, crawled over the debris into the bedroom, which was almost completely filled with dense hot smoke. His eyes smarted from the intense heat, and he coughed violently as he probed with his feet until he located Mrs. Godwin on the floor. She was unconscious, and nearly all of her attire had been burned away. John dragged her to the opening, the exertion causing him to inhale more smoke. Feeling nauseated, he lifted her upward over the debris to his father and another man as he emerged from the trailer. Within seconds flames filled the bedroom, and in five minutes the entire trailer collapsed. Mrs. Godwin succumbed three days later.
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