Piloting the past into the present
FLIGHT JACKET Alan Goldner shows off the flight jacket his son sent him for Christmas to members of the Roundtable Coffee Club at Jean's Restaurant on Front Street. Goldner had his service patches sewn onto the jacket. Coffee club members, clockwise from bottom, are: retired U.S. Rep. G.V. "Sonny" Montgomery, Billy Fort, Cecil Harrison, George M. Church, Bill McBride, Raymond Moore, Pete Griffis, John "Choo-Choo" Dunn, Oscar Pool, Tom Hampton, Walton Moore and Davison Lee. Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
Dec. 23, 2002
Alan Goldner has wanted a flight jacket ever since he outgrew the one he wore during World War II. Last week, his son sent him one for Christmas.
Goldner had his service patches sewn onto the new jacket, and showed it to his friends at the Roundtable Coffee Club that meets almost every morning at Jean's Restaurant on Front Street.
Goldner hopes to add a patch to his jacket from Naval Air Station Meridian. He is one of a few local World War II veterans who offer their knowledge and experience to young service people at NAS Meridian from time to time.
Goldner and Sam Forbert are scheduled to speak to pilots in training at NAS Meridian on Jan. 6.
What it was like
Goldner, 77, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran originally from New York City, earned two sets of wings flying B-25 aircraft during the war although he never left the United States.
Drafted into service, he chose to go into the Marine Corps because he liked the uniforms. He earned his air crewman's wings as a gunner and his navigator's wings while in service from 1943-1945.
Goldner was in Little Rock, Ark., in 1945, on his way to Okinawa, Japan, when word came that the atomic bomb had been dropped on Hiroshima, Japan.
He said the students at NAS Meridian enjoy hearing the accounts of older veterans, and he and his friends are always invited back.
Veterans talk about it more
Forbert, 79, retired from the U.S. Air Force as a colonel and from the Air National Guard as a brigadier general. He is originally from Hattiesburg and is a former commander of the local Air National Guard unit.
During World War II, he instructed fighter pilots, and he flew bombing and strafing missions during the Korean War.
Other veterans, including some who served in the infantry, have joined Goldner and Forbert for presentations at NAS Meridian.
Former U.S. Rep. G.V. "Sonny" Montgomery, a U.S. Army veteran of World War II and member of the coffee club, said World War II veterans talk more about their experiences now than they did in the past.