Thomas Edward Goodson, Jr.
Transfer from The Citadel; Sergeant; Second Lieutenant; Peedeeans, 3; Minarets, 4.
Hartsville, South Carolina
Wife - Norma Niggeim from Columbia, SC.
Army, First Lieutenant
Commander of Company G, 325th Glider Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division
Jul 19, 1918
Jun 14, 1944
Killed In Action - France
Extract From – 82D AIRBORNE DIVISION WAR MEMORIAL MUSEUM
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The 82d Infantry Division was called to active duty on March 25, 1942, at Camp Claiborne, Louisiana, under the command of Major General Omar N. Bradley. On August 15, 1942, the division took wings as the 82d Airborne-becoming the U.S. Army’s first airborne division-now commanded by Major General Mathew B. Ridgway. At the same time, half of 82d Soldiers were used in the formation of a second airborne division-the “Screaming Eagles” of the 101st Airborne Division.
In October, the 82d was sent to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to conduct airborne training. By the time they went overseas, the 82d would consist of the 325th Glider Infantry Regiment and the 504th and 505th Parachute Infantry Regiments. In the spring of 1943, the 82d All Americans became the first airborne division sent overseas, landing in Casablanca, North Africa, on May 10, 1943. From there, they moved by rail to Oujda and then by truck to Kairouan, Tunisia. That would be their departure point for the Division’s first combat drop-the invasion of Sicily.
By September 13, 1943, General Mark Clark’s Fifth Army had held tenaciously to the Salerno beachhead for four days but needed quick assistance. He sent a message to Major General Ridgway requesting a drop that night. A plan was immediately set for the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment to jump several miles from Clark’s embattled troops, then be driven in trucks to the front lines. It went just as smoothly the next night, when Colonel Gavin and 1,900 of his 505th All Americans, including 1LT Ivy K. Connell, Clemson Class of 1943, arrived. A day later, 14 September the beachhead was declared secure – a feat that could not have been attained without the 82d’s assistance. Lieutenant Connell, was killed in action in Italy on October 6.
With Salerno secure, General Ridgway led his division, with other 5th Army units, on the key seaport of Naples. There the 82d troopers enjoyed the experience of liberating that famous city. In November, after sharp fight in mountains around Naples, the 82d withdrew to England to prepare for the invasion of France. General Clark kept the 504th PIR in Italy where they fought at Anzio, returning to the 82d in April 1944. It was at Anzio that the 504th earned its famous nickname “Devils in Baggy Pants.”
With Italy in good hands, Allied eyes focused on France. Operation “Overlord,” the invasion of Normandy, would be the greatest military operation in history. The massive plans for D-Day included Operation “Neptune,” an all-important airborne phase of Overlord. Ridgway’s All Americans would play an integral part in Neptune. Joined by the 507th and the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiments, the 82d was prepared to assault Normandy with 12,000 Parachute and Glider troops. Their mission: Destroy vital Germany supply bridges and capture causeways leading inland across the flooded areas behind the Normandy beaches where seaborne forces would land to gain control of roads and communications.
It was in this operation that three members of [Clemson College] participated and were casualties. They were PVT Henry M. Taylor HQ Battery 320th Glider Field Artillery (GFA), 1LT Thomas E. Goodson G Company 401st Glider Infantry Regiment (GIR). 1LT Goodson was also the Company Executive Officer. The 401st GIR was part of the 3d BN 325 GIR. It would not be renamed as 3/325th GIR until later. And 1LT William S. Gaillard, I Company 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR). He was the 2d Platoon Leader.
D+8 – 14 June 1944 The 325th GIR attacked at 1000 hrs in a column of battalions, with the 401st (3d BN) leading the attack. The main highway due west of Etienville was strongly defended by the enemy but was driven off the road by 1830 hrs. After exceptionally hard fighting and a thrust by both 3d and 1st BN supported by one platoon of A Company 746th Tank BN they attacked and advance west 400 yards. The regiment consolidated its positions at 2100 hrs established firm contact with the 507th Infantry on the right and prepared to continue the attack to the west. It is here that it is taken for granted that 1LT Thomas E. Goodson was killed. The 505th remained in Division Reserve while I Company moved to secure the bridge south of Etienville (Pont L’abbe), holding positions at the north end of the bridge. Company H was attached to the 325th GIR at 1400 hrs to act as Infantry escort for a platoon of Company A, 746th Tank BN through and beyond Etienville, but the company reverted to regimental control at 1900 hrs. The regiment was ordered at 2100 hrs to move into position 1,000 yards north of Etienville. I Company remained at the Etienville Bridge and established patrol contact with the 508th PIR in the Beuzeville La Bastille Bridgehead.
The 319th GFA remained in direct support of the 508th PIR and fired 600 rounds against enemy buildups in the Hotot area. The 320th GFA and 456th PFA BNs were placed in direct support of the attacking 325th GIR and 507th PIR, respectively. The 188th FA BN was in direct support. More than 2,200 rounds were fired in support of the attack toward the west.
The airborne troops continued their ferocious fight as infantrymen for 33 days after landing at Normandy. When relieved to go to England, tallies showed nearly half of the 82d’s Soldiers had been wounded, captured or killed. But, they had cost the Germans many more men and had destroyed 62 enemy tanks and 44 anti-tank guns and artillery pieces. Most importantly, they had choked off reinforcements for the Axis forces defending the French coast preventing some 35,000 to 40,000 enemy troops from rushing to the sea where they were needed.
After the Allies victory on May 7, 1945 V.E. Day with Germany’s unconditional surrender, and in July, the 82d was sent to patrol the American sector of Berlin. There, the division got its nickname of “American’s Guard of Honor” when General George Patton told them, “In all my years in the Army, and of all the honor guards I have ever seen, the 82d honor guard is undoubtedly the best. ”The 82d wound up being one of the most highly decorated U.S. Army divisions in the war. The 82d paratroopers earned three Medals’ of Honor, 79 Distinguished Services Crosses, 894 Silver Stars, 2,478 Bronze Stars, numerous foreign decorations. After three years overseas and 442 days in combat, the most by any airborne division the 82d returned to the United States January 3, 1946, to a roaring reception in New York City. But there was a somber side to the war’s conclusion: The 82d’s casualty count showed 3,228 dead, 106 missing and 12604 wounded. While several Army airborne units were inactivated after the war, the highly decorated 82d returned to Fort Bragg to vigorously and pride fully maintain the high state of readiness it showed during its long service in World War II.
Airborne All The Way
82d Airborne Division Museum