With a little more than one million World War II veterans left in the United States, Veteran’s Day celebrations have become more and more significant. Bernie Goode, 90, a Buckner Westminster Place resident, is one of the few in the Longview area. Like many young men enlisting in the military during World War II, Goode wanted to be a pilot. After working a civilian job in Alaska for a year after college, he enlisted and joined the Army.
Although he didn’t go into combat during the war, he trained on B29 Superfortress planes until the war ended. Goode later went to Korea as a navigator flying twin engine bombers. He flew mostly night missions, bringing in weapons to troops on the ground.
One of the most memorable experiences of his service happened during a night mission in Korea. Goode and his crew flew into Seoul and noticed the highway was full of cars and trucks going south.
“I asked one of the air traffic controllers if he knew what was going on because of all that traffic,” Goode said. “He said the Chinese had just invaded. We couldn’t believe it. I was one of the first people to know, and one of the first to relay that information.”
Goode was also one of the first commanders to move combat troops into Vietnam in 1961.
Goode and his family were stationed all over the world – California, Florida, Thailand, Japan and Honolulu, to name a few. He said he learned quickly how to negotiate “good assignments.”
“I figured out I could just call up and ask what options they had,” he said. “They’d usually give me a few and I’d make my choice. Everything worked out good for me.”
Goode retired after 31 years of service in the air force. He logged more than 10,000 hours in C-124 planes, which he flew for 20 years. He now lives at Buckner Westminster Place in Longview, Texas. Goode stays active by going to the golf course almost every day and wading around in the Good Shepherd Health Care pool several times a week.
“To say that we are honored to have American heroes like Mr. Goode living at Westminster Place is an understatement,” said Wes Wells, executive director of Buckner Westminster Place. “As you listen to the stories of these men and women, you realize how young they were when they went to war and the sacrifice they made for their country and families. They gave up so much to keep the foundation of our freedom alive, and we can’t thank them enough. I can only say it is truly an honor for Westminster Place to have so many veterans as residents in our community.”
Buckner Westminster Place residents, staff and families will gather under the giant American flag Tuesday afternoon to celebrate the men and women who served in the U.S. military in honor of Veteran’s Day. Forty four veterans currently live at Buckner Westminster Place.
Joe Ramirez with American Legion Post 232 will emcee the event. Local Boy Scout troops will carry flags and participate in the ceremony. Attendees will sing patriotic songs to honor veterans and those who gave their lives for their country.
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