Mona Goff was the younger sister of the only hero she had ever known: her brother. Marion Robert Goff was a young man who donned the uniform in 1943 and found his dreams of becoming a minister forever changed. Goff was 23 years old and found himself driving a munitions truck in France on June 6, 1944, also known as D-Day – the day that marked the beginning of the end for World War II.
Codenamed Operation Overload, the D-Day invasion commenced when about 156,000 American, British, and Canadian forces landed on beaches on the coast of Normandy, France, in areas heavily occupied by German troops. Goff drove a truck for the officers under the command of General Dwight D. Eisenhower and found himself in charge of transporting prisoners of war (POWs). On the way to the detention facility, Goff’s convoy fell under heavy artillery fire. Many of his men advised him to “get rid” of the captured Germans as they were slowing the platoon’s progress. Goff refused and carried on delivering the prisoners to a nearby camp without a single life lost. He saved those POWs, and later, one of them returned the favor – but more on that later.
The Battle of Normandy raged for two months, but it freed Western Europe from Nazi control. Goff would recall his embarrassment at being hugged and kissed by French girls after the liberation of Paris. But the war for Goff was not over – and his faith would be severely tested.
A Man of Faith
Goff was not the kind of man who glorified the battles of war. He was brutally honest when recalling experiences both good and bad. The friendship with his unit, the desperate faces of the enemy, the sounds of artillery fire, and screams of the wounded. He would visibly shudder when retelling the march past German concentration camps. That march was not as a liberating American soldier – it was as a POW following his capture during the Battle of the Bulge. One of his captors was a former POW he had saved. The guy told his fellow soldiers he was “returning the favor and was doing his part to get this honorable soldier back home.” The determination to stay alive and a greater determination to see his family and beloved home state once again kept Goff going.
He was a man of great faith, and those convictions helped him survive his treatment in the camp where he was nearly starved to death. He remembered when he was released and given the chance to bathe and clean up, the image he saw in the mirror was shocking. He told his father, “I didn’t know who that person was. He was skin and bones. 120 pounds on a 6-feet 2-inch frame.”
A Changed Man
Goff earned a chest full of medals from his time in the U.S. armed forces but was most proud of the Purple Heart. A reminder that in the darkest hour he had the drive to serve his country and his God. And he would need that faith after returning home to the small-town life he had left. He was a changed man from the shy boy who had left Farmington, New Mexico. But Mona Goff would recognize her brother, no matter his condition.
Mona and Marion’s father, the local postmaster in Farmington, gave his daughter the job of picking up mail bags from the bus stop. She eagerly went each day, hoping to hear from her big brother. One day, her dreams came true: A thin man was the last passenger off the Greyhound. Marion was home.
He battled Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome for the rest of his long life and suffered from nightmares. He also drove the perimeter of the small town nearly every night right before going to bed. But he found that joyous laugh and generous spirit once again, offering everyone he met a hearty greeting.
Goff was an unsung American hero – one of millions who have dedicated their lives to serve our nation and the citizens of many other nations. Mona allowed Liberty Nation to tell of his service on this D-Day. And she is still proud of her older brother. She said, “His time at war changed him. But during that time, he grew up, and became an even more loving, outgoing man, who was endeared by all who knew him.”