With three engines lost on a B-29 bombing run over Tokyo December 3, 1944, pilot Robert Goldsworthy and his crew bailed out. For the next nine months, he would endure brutal beatings as a Japanese prisoner of war. Far worse, he said, was the cold and starvation.
Goldsworthy and his older brother, Harry E. Goldsworthy Jr., both flew World War II combat missions. They retired as Air Force generals with five stars between them. Their contributions to the war are among the 120 case studies chronicled in C. James Quann’s new book, WSU Military Veterans: Heroes and Legends. The author relates military experiences of former Washington State University students—and a few faculty and staff members—who served during World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and the 1991 Persian Gulf War.
The WSU registrar emeritus spent a decade (1995-2005) conducting oral history interviews with many of his subjects. He also perused official military records, including U.S. War Department citations.
Like the Goldsworthys of Rosalia, many were native Washingtonians and products of WSU’s Reserve Officer Training Program. Marine Corps generals John F. Kinney, Endicott, and Keith A. Smith, Cheney, distinguished themselves as pilots on Wake Island and in Vietnam respectively. Colonel Jack D. Holsclaw, Spokane, flew with the “Red Tails,” the famous all-black World War II fighter squadron. Air Force colonel James P. Fleming, Moses Lake, is WSU’s lone recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor. He logged 810 combat missions in Southeast Asia, including a daring helicopter rescue under heavy fire.
Some made the supreme sacrifice. Navy lieutenant Archie Buckley, Colville, died saving shipmates following a kamikaze attack on the USS Saratoga. Jeanne Lewellen Norbeck was one of four WASPs (Women’s Air Force Service Pilots) to die testing U.S. aircraft at home during World War II. The book lists those killed or missing in action from World War I through the first Persian Gulf War.
Quann himself was an infantry officer in Korea. During a 25-year professional career at Pullman, Quann founded the WSU Veterans Memorial, which enshrines the names of 387 veterans. However, it was a visit with students on the 50th anniversary of D-Day (June 4, 1994) that confirmed his resolve to do the research leading to his book. He found most had little knowledge of D-Day’s significance.
Quann regrets his book may not adequately reflect the important roles WSU veterans played in serving their country. He’s aware too that his research likely failed to uncover acts of military heroism that should have been included in the volume. A 1973 fire destroyed many official military records archived at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis. And Quann was unable to interview 18 of the veterans he had planned to meet with, since they died before he could talk with them.
— Pat Caraher ’62, former senior editor, Washington State Magazine