About Gordon Helsel

Gordon was born in Hampton, Virginia and is the youngest of five children. Gordon’s family moved to Poquoson when he was a young child and he has lived there since. He has been married to his wife, Joy, for 44 years.

Like many, in 1967 Gordon was drafted into the United States Army and was sent to Vietnam as an infantry soldier. Ten months into his tour of duty, his unit was ambushed by North Vietnamese regulars. Gordon sustained his first wound in the initial attack and was pinned down in between his unit and the enemy for many hours. He continued to return fire at the enemy position and later that night while changing his position he was wounded a second time. Gordon spent five months in recovery before returning to the United States. In recognition of his bravery and wounds sustained Gordon Helsel received two Purple Hearts and the Bronze Star.

On his return he went to work for Newport News Shipbuilding in the Piping Department. Gordon then pursued his dream of owning a business and bought the York Box and Barrel Manufacturing Company, Inc., a container company supplying the region’s seafood industry. His two sons, Scott and Brian, now run the business since Gordon’s retirement in 2001.

The Helsels, from left: Scott, Joy, Gordon, Wyatt, Christy, and Brian

During Gordon’s tour of duty in Vietnam he grew to appreciate the advantages that he had benefited from as an American. Among them, the freedoms that our form of government gives us as well as the economic opportunities it affords us. While recovering from his wounds, he personally became aware of the true cost of these freedoms and that they were earned for us by others. Gordon realized that our success today comes from the service of those who came before us – those who fought and died, who worked to build our communities and who strived to improve our democracy. Gordon knew that he needed to continue his service and has made it part of his life by serving as the Chief of Poquoson’s Volunteer Fire Company, as a Poquoson councilman and serving as the Mayor of Poquoson.

Gordon broadened his service when elected to the House of Delegates in a 2011 special election. He now represents part of York County, part of Hampton, and Poquoson as they make up the 91st House District.

Biography - A Lifetime of Service

Elective Office
  • York Box and Barrel Manufacturing Company, Inc.
        • Owner (Retired)

Military Service
  • United States Army   1966 - 1971
        • Served in the Republic of Vietnam
        • C Company - 2nd BN 35th Infantry, 4th Infantry Division
        • Twice Combat Wounded
            - Recipient of Two Purple Hearts
        • Recipient of Bronze Star for Valor

Civic Involvement
  • Poquoson Volunteer Fire Company
        • Life Member, Former Chief
  • Chamber of Commerce
  • BB & T Advisory Board
  • Metropolitan Planning District
  • Peninsula Military Alliance
  • Military Order of Purple Heart of the U.S.A.

  • Poquoson High School
  • Thomas Nelson Community College
        • Degree in Occupational Safety and Health

  • Married to Joyce Rasnick Helsel
  • Sons: Scott & Brian (Daughter-in-Law Christy)
        • Grandchildren: Wyatt & Avery
  • Member, Liberty Baptist Church
  • Lifetime resident of Hampton Roads

Christmas in Vietnam, 1967. Gordon is 4th from the left.