John L. (Larry) Gorrilla

Memorial Location


  • Lieutenant
  • Served: April 13, 1966 – October 11, 1969
  • Vietnam War, Three Tours of Duty, Pacific Fleet
  • Auxiliary MACH 9302
  • Awarded Vietnam Service Medal, Meritorious Unit Citation, National Defense Medal with device

With the Vietnam Conflict in full swing, having graduated from college, newly married and having a desire to fly, his low draft number in his hometown of Ironwood, Michigan, made him decide it was time to volunteer to join the US Navy Flight Program to “see the world” from an aircraft carrier. His officer training was in Pensacola, Florida followed by flight school. Eye issues forced him to change direction and he spent 3 tours aboard a Navy oiler/supply ship, the USS Passumpsic AO-107. The ship had recently been jumboized, carrying various forms of oil, jet fuel and other supplies such as mail and ammunition for all the ships needing service. Each tour was 8-11 months in the Asian Pacific Theater. His Officer Divisional responsibilities included Auxiliaries, Electrical, and Mechanical Divisions (air conditioning in the captain’s quarters was a top priority!), as well serving as Educational Officer.

John relates this story. His boss was called away from duty for a long-term mission as they were returning to Long Beach, California. John was left in charge of planning and managing a 5 million (Vietnam era) dollar major overhaul including dry-docking the ship. This responsibility led him to his own future business of Design and Construction Management and gave him the experience and confidence necessary to become a successful young entrepreneur. He often cites his appreciation of the US Military as being a gateway for young people to gain experience by taking on major responsibilities for our country, such as guiding and caring for our military inventory, and performing heroic acts of valor. Not only have veterans protected us militarily, but then they become the backbone of the US economy.

Mr. Gorrilla died instantly on March 20, 2023 from a skiing accident, in Winter Park, CO,  doing what he loved very much. A lifelong sport, John mistook from the upslope a snow machine made hill, but instead was a series of two unmarked boulders called the Camel Hump. He landed well, but the force popped him out of his skis and he fell on his chest.

John and his wife Colleen were retired and lived in Presque Isle, Wisconsin. Their three children and families live in Wisconsin and Minnesota. He was a member of Winegar American Legion Post 480, serving as Commander and as its Financial Officer. He also served as President of the Wilderness Veterans Memorial Flame Foundation and on various community boards and committees. John was the Designer and Construction/Project Manager for the Wilderness Veterans Memorial Flame in Presque Isle. See son Michael Gorrilla.

He will be interred at the Horihan Family  burial site, St. Patrick’s Cemetery, Lanesboro, Minnesota.