WW II Sailor Honored as Veteran of the Year

Post 27 Commander Ron Freese presents the Veteran of the Year
plaque for 2010 to WWII veteran Jim Goodrum, left
Photo by Lisa Carroll
World War II veteran Jim Goodrum was recognized as Veteran of the Year in ceremonies Thursday at Newnan's Veterans Memorial Plaza.

Goodrum, who lives in the Sharpsburg area, attended the ceremonies with his wife Elsie and daughter Linda. "I am really overwhelmed by being chosen as Veteran of the Year. By honoring me, I feel like you're also honoring every man who served on the USS Bogue with me" and "every person who has put on a military uniform in the service of the United States of America," he said.

About 450 people attended the annual Veterans Day event. Jeff Carroll, Sergeant at Arms of Alvin Hugh Harris American Legion Post 57, was master of ceremonies for the program.

The Veteran of the Year is named annually by the local American Legion Post. Current Commander Ronald Freese presented a plaque with two American flags to Goodrum.

Carroll said the Veteran of the Year program recognizes a military veteran for "their efforts both in the service and after the service." The person selected each year "becomes a proxy for all of the veterans," Carroll said.

Goodrum "went in the Navy in September of 1941," Carroll said. "He went with a group of young men" who were promised they would be assigned to the USS Atlanta.

After basic training in Norfolk, Va., Goodrum attended Navy Aviation School. While "everyone else who went with him" was assigned to duty on the Atlanta, Goodrum was sent to Newfoundland. Later, the Atlanta was attacked in the Pacific with "a tremendous loss of life," George Piner, a close friend of Goodrum, said.

Piner said Goodrum -- looking at a photograph of himself in the service -- commented that he looked a little cocky. "You're supposed to look a little cocky. You're a young man. You're in the Navy. You're ready to take on anything that may come," Piner told his friend.

The task at the Newfoundland base was to provide a "flight squadron to provide protection from German U-boats," Carroll explained. "The submarine problem was getting very scary for the United States and the Allies on the Atlantic."

There were 169 Allied military and merchant ships sunk by the Germans in 1939. The following year, the total jumped to 564 -- reaching a height of 1,321 in 1942.

Newfoundland was often brutally cold. Piner spoke of "the struggles they had to go through."

The men at the Newfoundland base provided protection for ships as far as they could, but airplanes had a limited range. "Outside the range of the airplanes, they were pretty much sitting ducks," Carroll said.

Someone in the Navy came up with the idea to "take a merchant ship and put a landing strip on top of it," Carroll said. The first ship was the USS Bogue, and Goodrum served on it.
Jim Goodrum / USS Bogue

The Bogue "could actually go out and find these submarines." Carroll said. "Because of seaman like Jim and others, we destroyed 240-plus U-boats in 1942 and 1943." The number of lost Allied carriers fell back to 579 in 1943 and to only 99 in 1945.

"He and his shipmates did a spectacular job. Had it not been for the cargos getting through successfully, we'd be looking at history in a different way," Piner said.

"His assignment on the ship was a big part of getting materiel and soldiers to Germany to win World War II," Carroll said.

While on leave, Goodrum and his wife, Elsie, married. There was applause as Carroll announced the Goodrums have been married 67 years.

"After Jim served in the Navy, he went to work at Delta. He worked there 35 and a half years," Carroll said. Goodrum started as a mechanic and retired as the head of the airline's propulsion engineering department. "He was a success in the Navy and a success at Delta," Carroll remarked.

Goodrum is active in a Delta retirees group. He has been commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 2667, and a Disabled American Veterans post. Goodrum has also been president of the McIntosh Chapter, Sons of the American Revolution and treasurer of the Sharpsburg Sharpshooters, Sons of Confederate Veterans.

"Jim -- like all the other World War II men -- was part of the greatest generation," Piner reflected. He said those men grew up in the Great Depression, served their country, came home, married, had families, educated their children and built "the greatest, strongest nation the world has ever known."

"You'd just about have to pull any information about his military service out of him," Carroll said of Goodrum. "He's a quiet man, a distinguished man."

Piner described his friend as "the epitome of a sailor." Carroll said Goodrum exemplifies "a veteran who's active in our lives everyday throughout the community."

After the ceremony, a luncheon for the public was served by the Coweta Veterans Club.

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