David Gorkin was born in 1920 in Gomel, Belorussia. In his youth he took part in amateur Yiddish theater in his town. One of his roles was that of a warrior of Bar Kokhba in the eponymous play by Abraham Goldfaden and Shmuel Halkin. Later, during the war, at the front he kept a photograph of himself as a warrior of Bar Kokhba in a pocket of his uniform.
After the beginning of the Soviet-German war in June 1941, Gorkin was drafted into the Red Army. He was assigned to a separate reconnaissance company of the 38th Guards Infantry Division in the capacity of assistant political commissar of the company. With his division Gorkin fought in the Northern Caucasus in 1942 and, from September 1942, on the Don Front, near Stalingrad. Despite his position as political commissar, Private Gorkin often went on reconnaissance missions in enemy held territory.
In August 1942, with a group of other scouts, Gorkin was sent into enemy territory to scatter anti-Nazi propaganda leaflets. On the way he found a cache of German hand grenades and proposed to the commander of the group that they make use of them. The commander agreed and, with another soldier, Gorkin separated from the group, with these grenades, crawled close to an enemy trench and threw them in. Both of the soldiers then returned to their group. For this valiant act Gorkin was awarded the For Courage medal.
Sergeant David Gorkin was killed during the fighting for Dnepropetrovsk, in Ukraine, in October 1943. He was buried in a common grave.