BOURNE (CBS) – In World War II, Lt. Col. James Goodson was America’s flying ace in the European Theater.

He had 30 kills in air-to-air combat and became one of the war’s most decorated pilots.

“Really exceptionally good eyesight and reactions I think was what made him who he was and saved his life,” his son Jamie Goodson said.

Goodson died last week at the age of 93, just 11 days after his wife of 62 years passed away.

He was laid to rest at the National Cemetery in Bourne Friday with military honors, including a flyover by the 104th Fighter Wing.

Goodson was a man whose war-time exploits, and bravery, never defined him.

“He could talk to anybody,” his son said. “A very unpretentious man and just actually a very pleasant character.”

He was just 18 when he decided not to wait for the United States to join the war and became a pilot in England’s Royal Air Force.

When his country finally jumped into the war, Goodson became a pilot for the U.S. Army Air Corps, where he was considered a veteran at age 20.

“The casualties were always with the rookies,” Jamie Goodson said. “Once you had survived four, five, six missions, then you actually became good at it.”

In his later years, Goodson wrote a book, “Tumult in the Clouds,” and said he was only scared once: From 1939-1945.

More than 16 million men served in World War II. Only about 1.7 million of them are still alive, including 32,000 who live in Massachusetts.


Bill Shields


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