Freebyrds Remembered
October 20, 2009 4:35:24 PM UTC Post #1

To all my Skynyrd brothers and sisters. Today is October 20th, as you
all know. It's been 32yrs since that terrible day. I hold this day very close
to my heart for a number of reasons. 23yrs ago on Oct 16 I looked death
straight in the eye. I was working up at the Jackson Lake dam in Jackson
Hole, Wyoming. I was hired as a diver to do some underwater const.
on the old dam. Aound 11AM, the job went terribly wrong and I was
sucked into the dam's bottom gate. I was on surface supply air. That
means I had a long regulator hose attached to a small boat that we used
for surface support. half way into the tube the hose got tangled in the
boat and the regulator was ripped from my mouth. I was tethered to the
boat by a line which, stopped me about 40ft into the tube. with no air and
stuck in a tube I, began to wonder if this was it. I struggled to get my knife
to cut the line but I couldn't get to it. Running out of air I began to pray to
the Lord to help me. A calm feeling came over me and the tube lit up
with brightness and I had no more fear. At that moment the line was cut
and I shot out the other side of the dam. Being heavily weighted I sunk to
the bottom of the river and had to push off of bolders to reach the surface
for air. I met Gary and Dale Rossington a couple of weeks after that day.
We have become very close friends since that day.Gary and I would go
fishing or just for a drive through the beautiful country around Jackson Hole on that day.
We try to meet up if we're close enough or call to say " think'n of Ya" on this day of rememberance. Skynyrd has touched my life. They are my
second family. They have brought joy through music to all of us that other
people just quite don't understand. They are America's band, they are our band to share their music and message with others so they can feel the
Skynyrd spirit. I wish all of my Skynyrd brothers and sisters a safe and
happy life!! Rock ON!!! Toolbox

October 21, 2009 12:26:43 PM UTC Post #1

Great story Toolbox, and believe me as you well know, you're preachin' to the choir when it comes to us! Thanks again for making the trip here to Toolie-town for our "Freebird Celebrayion", and all the items you carted down with you, it made this years "Celebration" if not the best "celebration" to date! Now we need to do it with you every year possible! Told I'd start workin' ya about next years right away! A man of my word. Like the great Skynyrd tune, "Simple Man". Love you dearly Toolbox, Deb & I so much appreciate your friendship, and feel blessed to be considered your friends, from our hearts! Keep in touch, Keep the Faith, and I know, you'll always "Rock Suthyn"!


October 21, 2009 11:20:29 PM UTC Post #2

Great story Toolbox. Thank you for sharing.

October 22, 2009 11:18:33 AM UTC Post #3

Thanks for opening up your heart and sharing your memories! God left you in this world for a special reason many years ago. Always make the most of each day. Sara

Ain't nothing sweeter than a Southern girl!

October 22, 2009 3:44:17 PM UTC Post #4

Thanks for sharing this Toolbox. I owe a great deal to the band also. Growing up in the '70's was fun and there were lots of roads to take. I think Skynyrd really helped me stay focused and highly motivated. I remember playing Free Bird over and over before every high school football game. That song got me rabid and ready to hit like no other.
But I also have a unique story to share. Back in the late '80s the band got together for their first concert after the crash. I believe it was Houston, TX. My best buddy and long time Skynyrd fan had been to Mardi Gras that week and was travelling back through Houston to CA. He stopped in to check out Houston and while walking around at lunch time ran into none other than Leon Wilkinson who was shopping for that "just right" hat for their reunion concert. Rob approached Leon and they hit it off. Rob told Leon how he and I loved the music and about my Shelby GT-500 which sports their license plate. Leon then invited Rob to have lunch with the band. He jumped on this! They then gave him and his step brother front row tickets to the concert. We have seen Skynyrd dozens of times but Rob recalled vividly the playing of Free Bird. Young Johnny Van Zant sang lead on all the songs but started Free Bird by announcing that he would not sing the song out of respect for his older brother. Instead the audience sang the song. Rob, standing in the front row, said that after the "vocals" ended, and the three leads began to play that each band member, beginning with Leon began to cry. He said that all band members were soon teary eyed. They then collectively looked up to the heavens and decided to tear the daylights out of the roof with the hottest rendition of Free Bird that he had ever heard. A memory we both enjoy talking about over a cold one. Thanks so much to THE finest southern rock band to ever play in these United States of America, because gentlemen (and ladies) we still remember...

October 22, 2009 4:12:21 PM UTC Post #5

TOOLBOX, and Shinerunner.

I'm proud to see you two among the Skynyrd Nation!!!

Thanks for taking the time, it's what we're all about!!

October 23, 2009 5:32:52 PM UTC Post #6

Man there must be a hell of a suthin band rockin' n heaven!
They may be gone but never forgotten!
Their music will live on long after I'm will live on through my son and his youngins'(none yet) it will be liviv' here in TN. 4 a long tyme!
Fly on Freebyrds!
Gone but Never Forgotten!

October 23, 2009 10:12:52 PM UTC Post #7

@Shinerunner: What a great story about Leon. Thanks for sharing! Your friend got to witness that "Freebird experience" at the concert because Leon was approachable and took the time to acknowledge a true fan.

Ain't nothing sweeter than a Southern girl!

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