I have only a few favorite columns, and this is one of them. I like to run it every few years around Veterans Day. It first appeared in 2007.
I often hear voices ... not so much spoken words that I hear with my ears, but a feeling of what I must do — or not do — or something I need to know.
Here are a few of those whose voices I hear clearly. I’ll tell you later what they say.
Thomas M. Goldsworthy, Company C, 12th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Regiment, U.S. Army. Wounded in action July 20, 1864, at the battle of Bald Hill prior to the siege of Atlanta. In less than 15 minutes, the 12th Wisconsin lost 134 men killed or wounded from its complement of 600.
World War I
Elmer Colin Goldsworthy, Stockton, California. Twice wounded in action, first as a member of the Royal Canadian Army’s Princess Pat Regiment and later as a fighter pilot in the British Royal Flying Corps.
Eugene V. Debs Goldsworthy, Chillicothe, Missouri. U.S. Army. Killed in action Oct. 29, 1918, at Aricourt, France.
Henry Goldsworthy, Field Broughton Parish, Cumbria, England. King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment, Royal Army. Killed in action.
James Goldsworthy, Field Broughton Parish, Cumbria, England. Coldstream Guards, Royal Army. Killed in action.
World War II
Sgt. Ernest Frederick Goldsworthy, Walton-On-Thames, Surrey, England. Royal Army Service Corps. Died July 31, 1944, while a prisoner of war of the Japanese Army when his prison ship was sunk by American carrier aircraft 80 miles north of Corregidor. Hofuku Maru was one of the so-called “Hell Ships.”
Kenneth Goldsworthy, Redruth, Cornwall, England. Royal Air Force. Killed in action March 20, 1942. Redruth was my great-great grandfather Paul Goldsworthy’s home town.
T/Sgt. Abram T. “Abe” Goldsworthy, Keyser, W.Va. U.S. Army Medical Corps. Wounded in action in 1945 when his hospital train came under attack near Verdun, France. His memory of coming home to America was that of lying on the docks at New York City with thousands of other stretcher cases.
T/Sgt. Beverly A. Hayes, Frostburg, Md. Radio operator/gunner, U.S. Army Air Corps. Killed in action Aug. 24, 1944, when his B-17 bomber was shot down during a mission over Germany. His mother, Margaret Hayes, died Aug. 24, 1980.
Pvt. Russell George Goldsworthy, Pakenham, Victoria, Australia. Royal Australian Infantry. Killed in action Feb. 4, 1942, on Rabaul.
Pvt. Trevor William Goldsworthy, Royal Australian Army Medical Corps. Died May 20, 1945, while a prisoner of war of the Japanese Army in the Sandakan camp on Borneo.
Lt. Cdr. Leon Verdi Goldsworthy, Broken Hill, New South Wales, Australia. Underwater mine disposal expert, Royal Australian Naval Volunteer Reserve. Twice Wounded in action, he was Australia’s most-decorated naval officer of World War II (George Cross, George Medal).
Maj. Gen. Robert F. Goldsworthy, Rosalia, Washington. B-29 bomber pilot, U.S. Army Air Corps. Held as a prisoner of war in Japan for nine months, was twice sent out for execution but for unknown reasons was spared. He kept as a souvenir an order specifying how prisoners should be executed in the event the Japanese homeland was invaded and insisted the atomic bombs saved his life. He and his wife later had dinner with the widow of the Japanese fighter pilot who shot down his aircraft. The restaurant was located on the former site of the POW camp where he had been held.
SSgt. Jonah Edward Kelley, Keyser, W.Va. Company E, 78th Infantry “Lightning” Division, U.S. Army. Killed in action Jan. 31, 1945, at Kesternich, Germany.
Pfc. James Goldsworthy, Rock County, Wisconsin. 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, U.S. Army. Wounded in action Oct. 6, 1951. Returned to duty Oct. 18 and was killed in action the same day.
RD3-E4 Craig W. Haines, Keyser, W.Va. Swift Boat crewman, U.S. Navy. Killed in action Feb. 17, 1970.
W/O James G. Bosley, New Creek, W.Va. Helicopter pilot, U.S. Army. Killed in action Sept. 2, 1967.
SSgt. Calvin Coolidge “Grady” Cooke, Capitol Heights, Maryland. Loadmaster, U.S. Air Force. Killed in action April 26, 1972, when his cargo plane was shot down while attempting to resupply besieged South Vietnamese troops at An Loc. Remains repatriated and interred in Arlington National Cemetery June 20, 2006.
Kelley is a Medal of Honor recipient from Keyser, and Bosley and Haines were my friends at Keyser High School. I attended Cooke’s interment at Arlington with members of Chapter 172, Vietnam Veterans of America, and have worn a POW/MIA medallion or patch every day since then.
Abe Goldsworthy was my uncle, Beverly Hayes was my second cousin, and all the others were my in some way my relatives. Regardless of where the Goldsworthys may live, all have roots in the Cornwall region of England, and we share a common bloodline.
All of the above are now dead, and each helped preserve life as we know it in what we call The Free World.
Theirs are some — but not all — of the voices I hear. But what do they say to me? For a long time, I had only an idea.
Then I watched the movie, “Saving Private Ryan” and I knew what it was. Men who survived World War II have told me “Private Ryan” and “Band of Brothers” are the most realistic depictions of that horror they’ve ever seen.
After his three brothers were killed, Ryan became his family’s sole surviving son, and Capt. Miller (Tom Hanks’ character) was sent with seven other men to pull him out of combat. Five of the seven are killed, and after a brutal firefight with the Germans in which nothing is left to the imagination, Miller himself lies dying.
He calls Ryan to his side and says softly, “Earn this ... . Earn it,” and then he is gone.
Ryan is an old man when he returns to Normandy with his children and grandchildren and stands before Miller’s grave.
“I have tried to live a good life,” he says. “I have tried my best to earn it.”
Now an American senior citizen who stayed at home while others went, I often reflect upon how blessed I have been — blessed with freedom and in many other ways.
“Earn this,” is what my uncle and my cousin and the others whisper to me. “Earn it.”
When someday I am called to stand before them, I will tell them I tried my best to earn what they bought for me. Each deserves to be remembered, and so do many others.
It’s estimated that more than 3.25 million Americans have died in the service to our country, and countless more lost their physical and mental well-being.
Monday is Veterans’ Day. When you meet our veterans and our troops who are on active service, thank them for your freedom. Tell them, Welcome Home.