by Jonathan Goldman
On March 12, the U.S. Coast Guard commissioned a ship in honor of former JWV member and Post 45 Commander Robert Goldman. The USCGC Robert Goldman is one of six Sentinel Class Cutters that will be stationed in Bahrain as part of the Coast Guard’s Patrol Forces Southwest Asia.
I attended the commissioning ceremony in Key West, Florida along with my wife Eleanor and sister-in-law Gail Fresia, who were the ship’s sponsors, as well as my brothers Yale and Scott, and my three sons.
The ship’s motto, which appears on its blazon is “Beyond the call of duty.” That is a quote from one of my father’s shipmates and appears in the recommendation for the Bronze Star he received for his actions on November 12, 1944.
I consider my father a hero, but he didn’t like to talk about himself. When asked about his involvement in World War II, he simply said he received injuries when an enemy plane hit his ship. However, thanks to a JWV-sponsored initiative to honor under-recognized minority veterans, we recently learned about my father’s actions, which led to having a ship named after him.
Robert Goldman grew up on a farm in rural Woodstock, Connecticut, and went to a one-room schoolhouse. Because the town was too small to have their own secondary school, high school students were sent to Woodstock Academy, a private high school. Depression times were tough, and in-town students were moved along, so Goldman graduated when he was 16. He thought he’d pluck chickens and pump gas for the rest of his life. A gas station customer, a retired professor, saw that this young man was capable of more. He told Goldman to get into his car and then drove him to the University of Connecticut and helped him register for classes as an agriculture major. Goldman put himself through school by working in the chicken coops. His school was near the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. Goldman thought if he ever joined the military, he’d want to wear the Coast Guard uniform.
In October of 1942, Goldman enlisted in the Coast Guard. He received medical training at the Columbia University’s School of Pharmacy to become a pharmacist mate (medical corpsman). In July of 1944, he reported for duty on the United States Coast Guard (USCG) LST-66, headed for the Philippines. The LST (landing ship tank) was a naval workhorse, designed for transporting machinery and men, and able to approach and unload on shallow beachheads.
On November 12, 1944, the LST-66 was at Leyte Island. At 5:00 p.m., a Japanese Zero flew over the horizon and intentionally headed for the LST-66.
Four people were killed and seven were wounded. My father was on deck when the crash occurred. The man standing next to him died instantly. Although he suffered shrapnel wounds and severe burns to his back, my father’s priorities were clear. Despite the flames surrounding him, he jumped into a gun turret to administer morphine to a suffering shipmate. At the same time, he saw leaking aviation fuel and live ammunition near his feet. He was the last on his ship to get medical attention. He refused to even sit down to be examined until all the wounded were treated.
In 2016, Coast Guard historian Dr. William Thiesen began looking into Goldman’s service record. Thiesen’s research ultimately resulted in the ship named after Goldman.
To all those who serve in uniform, especially the officers and crew of the USCGC Robert Goldman, thank you for all you do in protecting our way of life. Your sacrifices do not go unnoticed. I was told that the crew of the Robert Goldman is the finest and most experienced crew, on the most technologically advanced cutter ever built, and I believe it. We will be forever grateful to the Coast Guard for the honor given to my father.
Volume 75. Number 2. 2021