A legacy of valor - remembering Lt. Goodfellow

ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. --

Family legacies, if left unspoken, can fade away into time and be forgotten. This does not necessarily mean lost. Although, it can be difficult to recover their stories, even when they are hidden in plain sight.

This is the case with Tech Sgt. Corey Goodfellow, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the First Term Airmen Center, and his relationship to the Air Force base of the very same name. Though the base’s history traces back to the days prior to Pearl Harbor, its namesake originated from the valor and sacrifice of a man lost in the chaotic storm of World War I, 1st Lt. John J. Goodfellow Jr., of San Angelo, Texas, Corey’s distant relative.

“I thought it was really cool when I first found out about him just before I had joined the Air Force back in 2008,” Corey explained. “I had never known about my relationship to him or heard much about Goodfellow Air Force Base until that time.”

Originating from Anadarko, Oklahoma, a small town of about 6,000 residents, Corey was always playing sports, hiking, fishing and hunting game such as deer, quail and wild hogs. As he got older he decided to sign on the dotted line and threw his hat into the ring of the Air Force.

“After I enlisted and heard about him I had wanted to go into the reconnaissance and intelligence field so I could get stationed at Goodfellow to follow in his footsteps; unfortunately, that didn’t quite work out,” Corey said. “He inspires me. Just knowing I have a family history in the Air Force really motivates me to try to live up to the legacy.”

Corey went on to explain Goodfellow was a reconnaissance pilot in the Army Air Corps back when it was heavily visual due to a lack of technologic advancements in camera equipment. He then explained how Goodfellow’s life ended on that sinister, stormy night.

Goodfellow was conducting visual reconnaissance behind enemy lines as part of a major American offensive near St. Mihiel, France, in hopes to reduce the German presence in the area.

Unfortunately, Goodfellow was forced to descend to a lower altitude due to the ruthless weather, placing him directly into the enemy’s crosshair. Though the offensive was a success, Goodfellow never made it back home. His remains were recovered from his forlorn aircraft and laid to rest in a U.S. military cemetery near Nancy, Meurthe-et-Moselle, France.

“With any luck, my legacy will be along those same lines as his,” Corey said. “Hopefully when people think back they remember me as someone that was very passionate about helping others to become successful, both personally and professionally.”

Corey is proud to be a part of both his Air Force, and Goodfellow families and wants to make them proud and live up to the name. “Everyone always asks if I really am a good fellow and I tell them I try to be,” he said with a smile.

With Corey’s attitude and determination, there could possibly be a second Goodfellow Air Force Base, maybe this time in Oklahoma.

“I wish I knew more [about him] honestly,” Corey said. “All I know is what I’ve read online and in a newspaper article my family kept. It happened so long ago, 100 years next year, and he was so young when he died. Although, there aren’t many family stories passed down about him, even after a century he hasn’t faded away from memory.”