Col Charles Grant Goodrich

Photo added by Patti Johnson

Col Charles Grant Goodrich

Augusta, Richmond County, Georgia, USA
Death 29 Nov 1987 (aged 80)
Augusta, Richmond County, Georgia, USA
Burial Augusta, Richmond County, Georgia, USA
Memorial ID 132880909 · View Source
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Charles Grant Goodrich was born 01 January
1907, in Augusta, Richmond County, Georgia,
the son of Thomas H. Goodrich and Essie
(nee Jaynes) Goodrich. His parents
divorced when he was very young, and
his Mother was re-married to John T.

Charley was raised in Augusta, Georgia,
attended the Academy of Richmond County
in Augusta, then attended the Marion
Military Institute, in Marion, Alabama,
which was a military preparatory
high school and college. The United
States Army ROTC program was first
offered at MMI in 1916, when the
institute was designated as an
"Honor Military School with
Distinction" by the United States
Department of Defense. Charles G.
Goodrich attained the rank of

In 1926, Charles Grant Goodrich
transferred and was enrolled in the
United States Military Academy at
West Point, New York. He was a
member of the West Point Choir
and the Fencing Team. He earned
the distinction of Sharpshooter,
in both pistol and rifle. Charles
Grant Goodrich graduated from the
U.S. Military Academy, at West
Point, in 1928, and held the rank
of Corporal.

From West Point, Charles Grant
Goodrich entered the U.S. Army Air
Corps, and was sent for Pilot Training
at Brooks Field, near San Antonio, Texas.
Brooks Field served as the primary
flying school for the army air corps.
He was later transferred a few miles
away, to Kelly Field, Texas, for
advanced Pilot's training. Each phase
of instruction lasted about six
months. At the Advanced Flying
School at Kelly Field #2, student
pilots mastered the advanced skills
of pursuit, bombardment, attack, and
observation. Most of the Army
aviators trained between the two
World Wars attended this school,
including Charles Lindbergh.

In 1929, Charles Grant Goodrich
completed his training, earned his
Pilot's Wings and was commissioned
a Second Lieutenant. He was assigned
to Langley Field, Virginia, and flew
Curtiss Falcon Aircraft. By June of
1931, He had been transferred to
Mitchell Field on the Hempstead
Plains of Long Island, New York.

On 06 June 1931, Lieutenant Charles
Grant Goodrich married Miss Ernestine
Rowland Wertenbaker, the daughter of
Colonel and Mrs. George L. Wertenbaker,
of Washington, D.C., at the summer home
of the bride's family in Bluemont,

In 1935, their daughter, Catherine
Rowland Goodrich was born, while he
was stationed at Langley Field, Virginia.
Charles Grant Goodrich and Ernestine
Rowland Wertenbaker Goodrich were
divorced before 1940.

Charles Grant Goodrich continued to
serve at various Air Corps stations
in the U.S. and Panama before World
War II, and rose in the Ranks to

The 12th Bombardment Group (Light)
was activated on 15 January 1941 and
Colonel Charles Grant Goodrich was
assigned as the Group's Commander.

Prior to the United States' entry
into World War II the 12th Bombardment
Group trained with Douglas B-18 Bolo,
B-23 Dragon, and Boeing Stearman
aircraft at McChord Field, Washington.
They were the only Air Corps combat
unit on the Pacific Coast north of
the San Francisco Bay area after the
Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and
they immediately began flying
anti-submarine patrols and watching
for signs of an invasion.

In March 1942, the 12 BG received
an assignment to Esler Field,
Louisiana for training on the new
B-25 Mitchell bomber. During the
time at Esler Field, the group
received the bulk of its flight
crews, most directly out of flight

In May 1942, the 12 BG flew to
Stockton, California for a mission
kept secret until after the war.
Confined away from the rest of the
base and restricted to their own part
of the flight line, the men of the
12 BG rotated crews and aircraft to
maintain half of the group continually
on alert and loaded with 500 pound bombs.
The other half flew practice- bombing
runs at a nearby field. The group
remained in this status until after
the U.S. victory at the Battle of
Midway. At the conclusion of the
battle, the group returned to Esler
Field to continue B-25 training.
After the war, members of the group
found out that their secret assignment
was to defend against an attack on the
U.S. mainland if the Japanese were
victorious at Midway.

The deteriorating situation for
Allied forces in North Africa prompted
British Prime Minister Winston Churchill
to plead for assistance from President
Franklin Roosevelt. U.S. forces to
include the 12th Bomb Group and its
four squadrons—the 81st, 82nd, 83rd,
and 434th, deployed to Egypt under
the Ninth Air Force in late July 1942.
The group flew missions in support
of the Allied drive from Egypt to

The Battle of Alam Halfa became the
first major battle the 12 BG engaged
in. The five day battle marked the
first time air power was the decisive
element in defeating a major armored
offensive. The Battle of Alam Halfa
set the stage for the Battle of El

Allied forces, including the 12 BG,
launched the hard-hitting offensive
in October 1942 against Axis forces
entrenched at El Alamein. Operating
from a landing area 50 miles from
the front, the group flew an
exhaustive week of sorties. During
the day, an 18-plane formation either
took off or landed every half-hour.
Crews flew three to four daily missions
and dropped up to 96,000 pounds of bombs
a day, earning the group the nickname

Over the next few months the group
helped push Axis forces out of Egypt,
across Libya, and into Tunisia.

In May 1943 the 12 BG commenced flying
missions to Pantelleria, Lampedusa,
and Sicily, in preparation for the
invasion of Sicily. In July 1943,
after the initial invasion, the group
moved operations to Ponte Oliveo,
Sicily under the Twelfth Air Force.
Here the group flew missions against
Axis forces that retreated toward
the northeast coast of the island.
In late August 1943, the group moved
to Gerbini, Sicily and supported the
invasion of Italy. As Allied forces
drove the Axis out of southern Italy,
the group moved north to Foggia,
Italy in November 1943. The group
operated from Foggia against targets
in northern Italy, Greece, Yugoslavia,
and Bulgaria. For its actions against
the enemy in North Africa and Sicily,
The 12 BG received the Distinguished
Unit Citation.

The 12 BG remained at Foggia until
January 1944 when operations transferred
to the Tenth Air Force and the Pacific

On 14 September 1942, Col Charles
Grant Goodrich was Shot down over
Sidi Amish, Egypt. Col Goodrich was
seriously injured, as he went out the
top hatch of the plane above the pilot's
cabin. The hatch is only designed to
be used for escape in sea crashes.
The sole reason he would need to use
the top hatch would be due
to fire in the cabin.

When he went out the top hatch, his
body slammed into parts of the fuselage,
such as the hatch framework, breaking
his back and injuring him severely.

The Germans operated on him, but used
little to no anesthetic. He was sent to
Sagan, Germany Prison Camp in February
1943. Colonel Goodrich became the
senior office of the Stalag Luft lll.

He was the Senior American Officer at the
compound and served as a contact man
between the Germans and his fellow
prisoners, and helped administer the

On the night of January 27, 1945,
making an unscripted entrance, Col.
Charles G. Goodrich, the senior
American officer, strode center
stage and announced,
"The Goons have just given us 30
minutes to be at the front gate!
Get your stuff together and line

In the barracks following Colonel
Goodrich's dramatic announcement,
there was a frenzy of preparation --
of improvised packsacks being loaded
with essentials, distribution of
stashed food, and of putting on
layers of clothing against the
Silesian winter.

As the men lined up outside their
blocks, snow covered the ground six
inches deep and was still falling.
Guards with sentinel dogs herded them
through the main gate. Outside the
wire, Kriegies waited and were counted,
and waited again for two hours as the
icy winds penetrated their multilayered
clothes and froze stiff the shoes on
their feet. Finally, the South Camp
moved out about midnight.

Out front, the 2,000 men of the South
Camp were pushed to their limits and
beyond, to clear the road for the 8,000
behind them. Hour after hour, they plodded
through the blackness of night, a blizzard
swirling around them, winds driving
near-zero temperatures.

At 2:00 a.m. on January 29, they
stumbled into Muskau and found
shelter on the floor of a tile factory.
They stayed there for 30 hours before
making the 15.5-mile march to Spremberg,
where they were jammed into boxcars
recently used for livestock. With 50
to 60 men in a car designed to hold 40,
the only way one could sit was in a
line with others, toboggan-fashion,
or else half stood while the other
half sat. It was a 3-day ordeal,
locked in a moving cell becoming
increasingly fetid with the stench
of vomit and excrement. The only
ventilation in the cars came from
two small windows near the ceiling on
opposite ends of the cars. The train
lumbered through a frozen countryside
and bombed-out cities.

Along the way, Colonel Goodrich
passed the word authorizing escape
attempts. In all, some 32 men felt
in good enough condition to make the
try. In 36 hours, all had been

The boxcar doors were finally opened
at Moosburg and the Kriegies from the
South and Center Compounds were marched
into Stalag VIIA.

On the morning of April 29, 1945,
elements of the 14th Armored Division
of Patton's 3rd Army attacked the SS
troops guarding Stalag VIIA. Prisoners
scrambled for safety. Some hugged the
ground or crawled into open concrete
incinerators. Bullets flew seemingly

Finally, the American task force
broke through, and the first tank
entered, taking the barbed wire
fence with it. The prisoners went
wild. They climbed on the tanks in
such numbers as to almost smother them.
Pandemonium reigned. They were free!

Two days later, General Patton arrived
in his jeep, garbed in his usual uniform
with four stars on everything including
his ivory handled pistols. He was a
sight to behold. The prisoners cheered
and cheered.

Colonel Charles Grant Goodrich was
evacuated to the U.S. and repatriated
on 06 July 1945. He had been awarded
the Air Medal; and the Purple Heart.

After his return home, Charles Grant
Goodrich married Connor (nee Cleckley)
Dyess, the widow of Marine Lieutenant
Colonel Aquilla James "Jimmie" Dyess,
who had been Killed in Action on 02
February 1944. The new Mrs. Goodrich
also had a daughter, Little Miss Connor
Cleckley Dyess.

After a well earned rest, Colonel
Charles Grant Goodrich returned to
duty and was assigned as the Deputy
Chief of Staff at Strategic Air Command
Headquarters at Bolling Field, in
Washington, D.C.

On April 21, 1946, Colonel Charles
Grant Goodrich received the Legion of
Merit Medal, awarded for outstanding
services in dealing with German
authorities, and administering his
unit, and his unflagging efforts to
improve the welfare of the men within
the camp and during a grueling
winter march helping to maintain
both health and morale among American
captives under bitter conditions.

In September 1946, he completed his
assignment at Bolling Field, and
enrolled in a new course of furthering
education for AAF Officers, where
he was one of 55 students in the
initial class at the Air War College
at Air University, at Maxwell Field,

Upon completion of this new course,
he was assigned to the Air Force
Headquarters at the Pentagon in
Washington, D.C.

Colonel Charles Grant Goodrich
retired from the Air Force in 1955.

Colonel Charles Grant Goodrich died on
Sunday, 29 November 1987 at the
Veterans Administration Medical
Center in Augusta, Richmond County,
Georgia. He was survived by his wife,
Connor (nee Cleckley) Dyess Goodrich;
his Daughter, Catherine Rowland
(nee Goodrich) Cole; his Half-brother,
John T. Cleckly, Jr.; his Step-daughter,
Connor Cleckley (nee Dyess) Smith,
wife of Maj. General Perry M. Smith,
U.S. Air Force, retired; and other

Family Members


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  • Created by: Patti Johnson
  • Added: 15 Jul 2014
  • Find A Grave Memorial 132880909
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Col Charles Grant Goodrich (1 Jan 1907–29 Nov 1987), Find A Grave Memorial no. 132880909, citing Westover Memorial Park, Augusta, Richmond County, Georgia, USA ; Maintained by Patti Johnson (contributor 47128084) .