Tuskegee Airmen Oliver Goodall dies at 88
For Oliver Goodall, trail-blazing was a way of life.
As World War II pilot and a member of the famed Tuskegee Airmen, as one of a group of African American military officers who defied racial restrictions decades before the anti-segregation movement of the 1960s – Goodall never allowed obstacles, great or small, to block him from his goals.
“I remember asking him how he endured all the things he went through, the segregation, being told they weren’t human. I asked him how it was that he didn’t get discouraged,” recalled grandson Tony Goodall. Oliver Goodall’s answer was simple: One must always have a strong faith in God.
Addressing a small audience at a speaking engagement earlier this year, Goodall added to that message. “Get your education. Be prepared,” he said, speaking in particular to the young people in attendance. “Then when you make up your mind to do something, nobody can stop you.”
On Tuesday, Oliver Goodall died. He had just been to the doctor earlier this week and received a clean bill of health. Age, however, took it’s toll, Tony Goodall said. Oliver Goodall was 88.
As a young man he attended the University of Detroit, where he excelled in track and other athletics, his grandson said. Even then, he had a strong work ethic that would remain with him all his life, Tony Goodall said. Moving to Los Angeles shortly after the war, Goodall in 1961 bought a home in Altadena and lived there the rest of his life, a home he shared with his grandson.
Goodall entered the service at Tuskegee in February 1943 but did not begin his training until 1944. He graduated in October 1944 as a multi-engine pilot and was assigned to the 447th Bomber Group at Godman Field, Kentucky, in January 1945, according to a biography posted on the website of the Tusgekee Airmen Foundation Scholarship Fund, where Goodall served as fund-raising chairman. At Godman Field, in spite of a high turnover of instructors, Goodall attained his First Pilots rating in six months.
In 1945, Goodall was among 60 African American U.S. Army Air Corps officers arrested when they violated orders and entered a segregated Officers’ Club. The incident came to be known as the Field Mutiny.
Goodall spoke earlier this year about his arrest, recalling how the Army posted a command that all African-American officers were ordered to sign. “The command said, `I have read this command and will not enter the white officers’ club,”‘ he said. When the base commanders created a separate Officers’ Club just for blacks, Goodall and others refused to enter it. A white commander approached Goodall and demanded to know why he had not signed the order. His answer was simple, dignified and direct. “I said, `I won’t sign that.’ He asked, `Why not?’ And I said, `Because it’s another form of segregation.”
Goodall was promptly placed under house arrest. Eventually, courts acquitted all 60 black officers who took part in the protest, which preceded the Civil Rights movement by decades.
A U.S. Postal Service employee until his retirement, Goodall always believed in “helping the ones that come after you,” Tony Goodall said.
“He knew that the future of the world were the young people of today, and that the problems we face today are not insurmountable,” said Tony Goodall. “The determination of this group of men, the integrity that they brought to their jobs, and all of the things they had to endure – they should be admired.” By Hector Gonzalez, Staff Writer, Pasadena Star News