O’FALLON – Retired Colonel of the U.S. Air Force Phil Goodwin of O’Fallon spoke at the VFW Post 805 on Tuesday, Jan. 29.
With over 100 combat missions over North Vietnam, Phil Goodwin of O’Fallon is considered a hometown hero, but insists he was just doing his job.
“Part of the VFW and our story is to let people know what has happened in our lives, what did we go through, what did we face,” VFW Post 805 Commander Ed Martinez said. “You may not know what we have endured or gone through, moments like this help people understand.”
During Goodwin’s presentation, he discussed his mission plans, bomb runs and surpassing his 100th mission.
“52 and a half years ago I completed my 100th mission over North Vietnam and another 25 over Laos and Cambodia,” Goodwin said.
Goodwin said that many people have asked why he waited so long to tell his story.
“I think you have all done things in your life and you don’t want to say ‘hey, look what I did.’”
“People are going to say, ‘you are a hero.’ I was doing my job. You folks in the military have all had a job to do and you do it,” he said.
Goodwin said that his war heroes were those that were shot down in Vietnam and had to survive the jungle.
“That’s my idea of a hero.”
Goodwin said he started out as a mechanic in the Air Force in 1951. He joined right out of high school.
During his presentation, Goodwin showed audio and visual clips of different planes he flew throughout his military career and what the Vietnam landscape looked like.
“Water bottles [were] very important. If you get shot down, one of the things you want more than a radio is a water bottle.”
“A lot of people carried a sawed off shot gun,” he said. “I carried a machete because I figured if I ever got shot down in the jungle, I wanted to be able to cut snakes heads off.”
Goodwin spoke fondly of his time flying the F-105 Thurderchief known as the “Thud.” He also spoke about the important role crew chiefs played in combat missions.
“We never had any more dedicated people than the crew chiefs. Those airplanes were their babies and they were always ready to go. They never broke down.”
“I joined the Air Force — I wanted to fly air planes. I got to do it and I was fortunate because I came back,” Goodwin said. “As you saw on the screen, I had a lot of guys that were friends of mine that are on the wall. The good lord had the fear of the mission in me.”
Goodwin said that during his time in Vietnam, he would fly missions every day, sometimes even twice a day.
While he doesn’t know how many men there are in the ‘100 mission fraternity,’ Goodwin said “not as many as we didn’t bring back.”
Goodwin received the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with 11 Oak Leaf Clusters for his work after having flown over 125 combat missions. He has also served the city of O’Fallon as the city clerk for 16 years.