Raymond F. Gooch saved Jack B. Dezember and two others, and attempted to save Harry A. Mortis, Jr., from drowning, Cypress, Indiana, November 3, 1940. A rowboat, in which Gooch, 18, schoolboy, and the others were riding in the Ohio River, capsized in water 25 feet deep about 1,300 feet from the bank. The boat would support only two persons at a time, and the youths alternately swam and held to it. Dezember, 19, schoolboy, became greatly fatigued and held to the boat constantly, and Mortis, 19, schoolboy, was becoming fatigued. After they had been in the water for an hour and had drifted a mile, Gooch, who was tired from previous exertion, swam and towed Dezember 25 feet toward the bank. Becoming fatigued and thinking he could not take Dezember to the bank, Gooch towed him back to the boat. He then swam toward the bank for aid. He was hampered by his shoes but could not remove them. After having swum 1,400 feet, he suffered a cramp in one leg. Treading water, he relieved the cramp somewhat; and then he swam 85 feet farther and waded to the bank. Meanwhile Mortis was drowned. Gooch walked and ran a half a mile and told a man of the others. They launched a leaky rowboat. Gooch paddled and bailed water; and the man rowed to the youths and took them into the boat, which was two thirds full of water. The boat was rowed to the bank. Dezember, who was unconscious, was revived. Gooch was exhausted and suffered from exposure but recovered. 38676-3218
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Raymond Forest Gooch, 93, of Evansville, Ind., died on Sept. 16, 2015. He was born on Feb. 22, 1922, in Howell, Ind., to Robert Oheron and Epsia (Taylor) Gooch.
Gooch played football at Francis Joseph Reitz High School in Evansville. At the age of 18, Gooch saved three high school friends, and attempted to save a fourth, after their rowboat capsized in the Ohio River while they were hunting ducks on Nov. 3, 1940. The Carnegie Hero Fund Commission in October 1941 awarded Gooch the Carnegie Medal for his heroic actions.
Two months after the rescue, he enlisted in the Army National Guard. During World War II, he served as a paratrooper with the 101st and 82nd Airborne divisions of the U.S. Army in Italy, France, and the European Theatre. He was promoted to staff sergeant before he was honorably discharged in 1945.
After the war, he worked briefly at Mead Johnson, then had a long career at Evansville Sheet Metal Works. He was a member of V.F.W. Post #1114 and Simpson United Methodist Church, both in Evansville.
Gooch enjoyed bowling, fishing, camping, boating, and playing the card game Clabber.
He was buried in Alexander Memorial Park in Evansville.
(Edited from an obituary published in The Evansville Courier and military records.)