James M. Goodwin – Colonel, United States Army

His wartime bravery earned him royal gratitude from King George VI and depiction as a comic book hero. The10-cent comic book issues were called ‘Goodwin Guerriallas.’

Arlington National Cemetery, Section 13, Lot 14162.

James M. Goodwin, a retired Colonel in the U.S. Army whose wartime bravery earned him royal gratitude and depiction as a comic book hero, died Thursday, January 7, 1998 in his Garden City, New York,  home after a long bout with cancer. He was 80.

Colonel Goodwin served during World War II as a member of the Office of Strategic Services, operating behind enemy lines for two years to rescue Allied fliers who were shot down over Germany.  During those missions in Yugoslavia, he also led local freedom fighters against the Germans, suffering several  wounds and earning decorations including the Purple Heart, Legion of Merit and the British Military Cross. The latter honor was issued in 1946, months after Colonel Goodwin rallied the Yugoslav soldiers in an assault against a fortified castle near Zagreb.

In the assault, he leaped over barbed wire and reached the castle under heavy fire, followed by the Yugoslavs. Most of the German garrison surrendered to the charge. But Colonel Goodwin was injured by a grenade blast as the attackers rounded up the Germans who continued to fight.

“I greatly regret that I am unable to give you personally the award which you have so well earned,” reads an undated, handwritten, note on Buckingham Palace stationery signed by then-King George VI. “I send it to you with my congratulations and my best wishes for your future happiness.”

Colonel Goodwin’s daughter, Lynn Knickman of Garden City, read the note yesterday, along with a  1944 Life magazine story on her father’s heroics and two undated True Life comic book versions of his combat service.

The 10-cent comic book issues “were called ‘Goodwin’s Guerrillas,’ ” she said. “There were two missions, one where they blew up a bridge and one where they stormed the castle . . . Both true.”

After World War II, Colonel Goodwin saw action in Korea and was later assigned to the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions. During the late 1950s, he was one of a small group of officers who formed the Special Forces. Colonel Goodwin retired from the Army in 1962.

That year, he entered the business world and ultimately formed MIA Associates, a Garden City-based interior design firm that boasted some of the nation’s largest corporations as clients.

“The Colonel,” as he was known, continued to work as chairman of MIA Associates until about seven years ago.

“Colonel Goodwin remained committed to serving his country throughout his active duty and well into his retirement years,” said a family friend, state Senator Charles J. Fuschillo Jr.  “We, as Americans, enjoy the fruits of our freedom because of true patriots like him.”

In addition to his daughter, Colonel Goodwin is survived by his wife, Constance Goodwin of Garden City; sons Blake Goodwin of Oyster Bay Cove and Gregory Goodwin of Winter Park, Fla.; four grandchildren; and two great grandchildren.

A memorial service was held yesterday at the Cathedral of the Incarnation in Garden City. Burial will take place at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia on January 21, 1998 at 11 a.m.  In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center,  1275 York Ave., New York, N.Y., 10017.

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