Youngsville resident part of newly lauded Civil Air Patrol.
By Carol Taber
YOUNGSVILLE — Have you ever wondered why the east coast of the United States was not ravaged during World War II?
The answer, in part, is because of the under-recognized work of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) and unsung heroes like Clive Goodwin of Youngsville.
The CAP was commissioned Dec. 1, 1941, under the Federal Office of Civil Defense just one week before the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
After that attack, German U-boats began stalking the U.S. east coast shipping lanes, targeting oil tankers and other vessels transporting supplies needed for the European war effort.
The military was fighting a war on two fronts, but something had to be done to protect our coasts.
Volunteers for the CAP stepped up, 200,000 strong. Squadrons were based in all 48 states and those that served often did so at their own expense.
In addition to coastal surveillance and search and destroy missions hunting U-boats, CAP members provided courier services, transporting needed personnel and materials. They flew reconnaissance missions along the Rio Grande protecting the southern border. They provided search and rescue for planes lost in remote areas, flew fire patrols, conducted radar training missions, helped with disaster relief and flew medical evacuations.
Today, less than 100 of those who served in the CAP during World War II are still alive. On May 30, President Obama signed the CAP Congressional Gold Medal Bill into law to honor them. Along with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Gold Medal is the highest civilian award possible for service in the United States.
Youngsville’s own Lieutenant Colonel Clive Goodwin is among those awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for his service in the Civil Air Patrol.
At the age of 15, Goodwin decided he wanted to learn to fly, and earned his pilot’s license by 1942, before even getting a driver’s license. At 16, he joined a Cortland, N.Y.-based CAP wing.
He served with CAP for a year until he was old enough to enlist in the Air Force.
Today, at 87, Goodwin remains spry and with a ready wit.
He can easily recall the purchase of his first plane, an Aeronca C-3 costing $300. His dad put up seven cows as collateral with the bank so Goodwin could buy his plane.
At age 16, he was flying search missions for downed military aircraft, and was an aircraft spotter for forest fires.
He rented a 1930 Kenner Fleet and a 1941 Porterfield so he could be available for service. At that time, CAP members had to supply their own planes.
Goodwin loved the Porterfield so much, he ended up buying it.
After the war ended, Goodwin had a varied career that took him and Mary Lou, his wife of nearly 68 years, all over the world.
He has run an airport, worked for Precision Air and for the General Electric Company. He has flown as a stunt pilot for air shows and carnivals. Wherever he went, he retained both his passion for flying and his willingness to serve his county.
In 1970 Goodwin retired. At the recommendation of his son, who lived in Raleigh at the time, bought land in Youngsville.
Goodwin rejoined the CAP with Franklin County Composite Squadron in October of 1996.
He was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in September, 2012.
Goodwin continues to serve in the CAP today in aerospace education, cadet programs and emergency services.
Semper Vigilans Lt. Col. Clive Goodwin — thank you for a job well done.