Chowchilla Vietnam War veteran set to receive high school diploma 48 years later


“Right here was an old building,” Royal Goodman said, standing outside Chowchilla Union High School.  

He remembers the school, the pranks. 

“The football team picked up the Volkswagen and put it in the corridor.”

Goodman also has memories most don’t. At 17, Goodman landed in the jungles of Cambodia, a generator mechanic in The Vietnam War.

“It will change you forever, it has me,” Goodman said. 

In high school, Goodman met his wife.

“Took her out back in ’66 or ’67, and we never looked back.”

But at 17, he needed a job, deciding on the Army.

“My dad signed for me, and he looked over at the recruiting sergeant and said, ‘Now, he’s not going to war is he,'” Goodman recalled? “And he said, ‘Absolutely not,’ so 6th months later, I went to Vietnam.”

The enemy, younger than Goodman, but not by much.

In one instance, a teen fighter approaching Goodman and his tank.

“One of the guys that were on the other end of the tank turned around, told him to leave or we’ll shoot you, and I thought, that’s a kid. 

“Well, he turned around, he had a hand grenade in each hand.” 

Goodman returned from Vietnam to animosity instead of accolades, from the countrymen he’d fought to protect, fighting his own battle of PTSD.

He lost many friends in battle.

Goodman has his GED and went into mechanics, recently learning of “Operation Recognition.”

“Anybody with enough credits in high school, that left early and went to war, you can get an honorary diploma,” Goodman said.  

Goodman called Chowchilla Union High. 

“They called me back and said, ‘Yeah, we’ll get you one.'” 

Goodman has enough successes to his name, but hopes this diploma will inspire others like him.

“I want other veterans out there to know, get your diploma. it’s really going to be something.”

The district office confirmed to us Goodman will be recognized at the next board meeting.

Megan Rupe, reporting.

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