Focus on Fostoria - May2806

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Published on 05/28/06 in the Fostoria Focus
Focus Correspondent

Mementos of Admiral Good come to Historical Society

During battle
Rear Admiral Roscoe Fletcher Good watches progress during the Battle of Okinawa while on board the USS Washington on Jan. 22, 1945.

His father was a blacksmith; his grandfather a minister. But Fostorian Roscoe Fletcher Good chose to make the United States Navy his career and in the process became Fostoria’s highest ranking military officer.
Late last year, mementos of Vice Admiral Good’s service were donated to the Fostoria Area Historical Society by Craig and Mary Helvoigt of Toledo. They help tell the story of a man who wore a uniform for 42 years.

Good was born in Fostoria in 1897 and graduated from Fostoria High School in 1914. In 1916, he won an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.
Prior to graduation, the United States entered World War I and Good put to sea and served in the Atlantic Fleet aboard the USS Wyoming, Kansas and New Jersey.
Following the war, he returned to Annapolis and on June 6, 1919, he graduated fourth in his class of 452. The following day he was made an ensign. He was assigned to the USS Columbia for three years.
The Columbia held great significance for Good. He got married aboard her while the ship was in port at North River, New York.
On Aug. 2, 1919, he married Bess Owen, a Fostoria girl on board the ship. One of the mementos is a medal Bess won in an oratorical contest in October 1908.
Between the wars, Good was a busy man. He took postgraduate studies in engineering at the Naval Academy and Columbia University.
He went to the New London Submarine School and served as engineering officer, executive officer and captain of several subs. He was also the submarine superintendent of the New York Naval Yard.
From 1932 to 1935, Good was assigned to Submarine Division 10 which had duty on Asiatic Station. During this time, Good, Bess and their son, Roscoe Jr. lived in Tsingtao (Qingdao), China.
There is a 1934 photo of 12-year-old Roscoe Jr. with his pet dog Duke. Duke is sitting up on his hind legs.
The younger Good rescued the black chow when he saw the animal being stoned on a Tsingtao street as a “mad dog.” Bess wrote on the back of the photograph that Duke was the “sweetest tempered” dog she ever knew.
A tragic memento of the Goods’ son is a memorial card from his funeral. Roscoe Jr. followed his father into the military and became a Marine aviator, serving in World War II and Korea.
On April 24, 1951, 29-year-old Roscoe Jr. was flying his OY-2 Grasshopper observation plane on a spotting mission to direct American artillery fire during the Korean War. He was killed when his plane collided with an American F4U-4 Corsair fighter and crashed. He was the Goods’ only child.
Shortly before America entered World War II, the elder Good became assistant operations officer on the staff of the commander of the American Pacific Fleet. He was stationed at Pearl Harbor aboard the fleet’s flagship, the USS Pennsylvania.
Both Good and Bess were at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked on Dec. 7, 1941.
In September 1942, Good was transferred to the naval forces engaged in the Battle of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands.
In August 1943, he went stateside with the staff of the Commander-In-Chief, United States Fleet, Chief of Naval Operations in Washington D.C.
On June 6, 1944, he was an aide to the commander of Allied naval forces engaged in the D-Day invasion of Normandy and went ashore during the battle.
There is a photograph of the battleship USS Washington, flagship of the U.S. Third Fleet. Good assumed command of the Washington on Nov. 16, 1944.
Another photo shows Good on the Washington on Jan. 22, 1945 during the Battle of Okinawa. With Good commanding, the Washington saw action at Luzon, Formosa, Iwo Jima and Okinawa, among others. By this time, Good had attained the rank of Rear Admiral.
During World War II, Good earned the Legion of Merit with Gold Star and Combat “V” and the Commendation Ribbon. He eventually reached the rank of Vice Admiral.
Following the war, Good served in several command capacities including Commander of American Naval Forces in the Far East in the mid-1950s. One of his souvenirs from that tour of duty is a reproduction of a painting by Mei Ling, the wife of Chiang Kai-shek, president of Nationalist China. It was given to him by Chinese Admiral Liu Ho Tu.
Craig and Mary Helvoigt came into possession of Admiral Good’s keepsakes through a woman named Trude Owen. Trude married Bess’ brother Harry. These items seem to be gifts from the Goods to Trude.
Craig’s mother became a close friend of Trude’s in the 1950s and cared for her until Trude’s death in the 1980s. Trude gave the items to Mrs. Helvoigt and now the Helvoigts have given them to the Historical Society.
Roscoe Fletcher Good died of a heart attack on Feb. 26, 1973, in McLean, Va. He was 76.
Bess was 88 years old when she died in 1985 in McLean. Like her husband, she was stricken with a heart attack.
Vice Admiral Good and Bess are both buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
(The Fostoria Area Historical Society thanks the Helvoigts for their kind donation.)