That’s the original title of “The Air Force” (Air Force hymn). You probably know the song, but as it’s not in the public domain I can’t use the lyrics here. This week’s song title is to honor my favorite veteran, my grandfather, Archie Goodwin.
He was in the Army Air Corps which would later become the Air Force. He was part of a B-17 crew. Six-feet tall but lanky, he was assigned the position of ball turret gunner, a job typically assigned to the smallest guy. D-Day was his first mission, and he wasn’t quite 20 which means he will be 90 on his next birthday. This video clip
is from August 2012, when the local television station interviewed Grandpa.
In September, I got to sit down with him for about three hours. We spent a lot is time talking about his experience. He’s very sharp and remembered some really cool details. One was having electric flight suits that kept him warmer than the fleece ones. While his flight jacket was his to keep, they had to sign out their flight suits. Grandpa has his flight jacket. It’s in poor condition because he wore it when he carried mail. He let me try it on. There was something about wearing history.
Grandpa showed me the faded design on the back. His plane, “Lady Velma”, was named after the pilot’s wife. His was personalized with “Indiana Kid” on it. It also has 27 yellow bombs representing most of his 31 missions. It’s sobering thinking those marks represent the times a young man half my age squeezed into a ball and laid his life on the line for freedom.
Grandpa’s jacket. Velma and the bombs are visible as is a bit of Lady Velma. Indiana Kid is nearly invisible and didn’t show up on film.
In 2002, my grandparents visited us and we went to the Pima Air Museum in Tucson. His picture is in the 390th Memorial Museum. He told Grandma, my husband, and me what it was like. One of the things he shared was dropping food to the French Resistance. He tells of waving his guns to a small boy. At the museum, a man heard Grandpa and thanked my grandfather for keeping his Dutch relatives from speaking German. Perhaps one of the proudest moments of my life.
I’m taking this veteran’s day to honor all of those who have served our country but especially, Archie Goodwin, my special link to The Greatest Generation. God Bless America!