COVERSTORY: CHARACTERS: “When Earl Went to War”


At age 90, Earl Goodall of Huntington, WV has tales to share about his time in the Korean War, initially kept from his family. | WestVirginiaVille.com photo


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“When Earl Went to War”: A WestVirginiaVille.com Video | CLICK TO VIEW

A WestVirgniaVille/AMP Multimedia Production | April 2021

By Douglas John Imbrogno | April 16, 2021 | WestVirginiaVille.com

Earl Goodall. | WestVirginiVille.com photo

I have been driving past Earl’s house for several decades now. As we all do, I had made snap judgments about this rail-thin, old guy in tennis shoes and ballcap, either tending to his yard or sitting on his porch. I thought he was standoffish, maybe a curmudgeon or a churlish fellow. He never waved.

One day last year it dawned on me that I never waved.

We got around to talking and Earl turned out to be as sweet, as open and as heartful a human being as you could possibly hope to find. Earl, who turned 90 in December, calls Huntington WV home. For months he has been ambling my way to tell me tales of his current life and then of his past life.

He had a thick book of photographs from his time as a young soldier in Korea. Did I want to come see it? His service history had been profiled once by the Huntington Herald-Dispatch. Here’s a copy of the story. How was I doing? Was he interrupting my work?

I enlisted WestVirginiaVille’s chief videographer, Bobby Lee Messer. We headed to Earl’s place and I quizzed him, teasing out his life stories on video from tales he’d told me on my porch.

Earl is not a man of letters. American men of his generation are famously not forthcoming about their psychological states or what it’s like to go to war, people dying in front of and beside you.

Yet I think Earl’s life story comes through loud and clear in the stories and the thoughts and feelings he is willing to voice. A lot comes through his expressive face. Then there’s the sheer triumph of a guy who got to be 90 years old, still laughing.

Earl’s a character. West Virginia is full of them. The world is full of them. Don’t ever forget that, dear local, state, national, and international media, when you crank up your caricature machine of people in the Mountain State.

Please meet this dear man in the video above, and also learn a little about ‘The Forgotten War’ which should not be forgotten.



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