Gilbert “Gerry” Goodgion passed away on August 29, 1991, just a few months short of his 48th birthday. Gerry (pronounced “Gary”) was an officer in the Navy, serving two tours in Vietnam and retiring from the Naval Reserve as a commander. Exposure to the chemicals used during the Vietnam War may have been a major factor in causing the cancer that ended his life.
|Above and right: Source: Findagrave.com.|
Gerry’s physical burial place is the cemetery in Cuba, New York along with his grandparents and several other members of the Setchel and Ackerly families. But, a more fitting memorial was the one left by his brother, John at the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C.
The framed poem and boots were left at the Wall by Gerry’s brother, John Holman. John, another Vietnam War veteran, succumbed to his cancer on June 22, 2013.
The poem, written by John reads:
FOR A BROTHER
(Commander Gilbert Goodgion, USNR June 1943 — August 1991)
You gave all that we needed …exactly when we needed it most.
It was not easy joining our unit.
The older ones were gone…on their own missions.
It was up to you to lead in your quiet way.
We younger ones resisted the changes you brought.
But you fought…fiercely….
for your Mom and all the rest…
Your best was all you had to give.
And we grew beside you.
Taking some of the strength we needed for our own survival
from your solid, stoic silences.
Your sense of battle was always enigmatic.
The fights fought were ferocious,
but squarely centered on the right — and the wrong.
You engaged the enemy enraged
with a passion for peace.
Your sense of decency
demanded that your fighting, flying fists
beat down doors,
pounded on walls and important desks,
but not on people.
You came home and fought for kids, like your own,
who only needed some hard love and gentle hands to excel.
And you came home and fought for your brothers
and their families deformed and
dying from an Agent (orange)
evil and insidious enough to stalk
them long after DEROS.
Nobody else would.
And you died.
Shot in the head by the bullet you were out to bite.
“Friendly fire to the max.
You belong on this Wall, Sir.
You join far too many others not here.
You’re not on the Wall — but we read between the lines.
Here are your boots,