John Godfrey was born on March 28, 1922, in Canada, and was raised in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. He joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in August 1941 and graduated from flight school in October 1942. Godfrey then served with the No 57 Operational Training Unit in England before receiving a commission with the U.S. Army Air Forces on April 27, 1943. He was assigned to the 336th Fighter Squadron of the 4th Fighter Group in September 1943, and was credited with destroying 16.33 enemy aircraft in aerial combat plus another 12.66 in ground strafing runs before he was forced to ditch his aircraft in Germany and was taken as a Prisoner of War on August 24, 1944. Maj Godfrey managed to escape from his POW camp just before the war ended and returned to the United States soon after. He served at bases in New Jersey, Rhode Island, Alabama, and Ohio after the war, and received an honorable discharge on March 30, 1946, and served in the Air Force Reserve until April 1, 1953. John Godfrey served as a Rhode Island State Senator from 1952 to 1954, and died of Lou Gehrig's Disease on June 12, 1958. He was buried at the Maple Root Cemetery in Coventry, Rhode Island.
His 1st (of 2) Silver Star Citation reads:
For gallantry in action, while piloting a fighter aircraft in support of bombers on a mission over Germany, 8 March 1944. Shortly after making rendezvous with the formation, enemy aircraft were observed preparing to attack the bombers. Exhibiting superior combat tactics, Lieutenant Godfrey and his section leader immediately launched a vigorous attack, each of them destroying one of the enemy planes. While climbing back to protect the bombers, two more enemy fighters were seen flying towards the formation. Again Lieutenant Godfrey engaged the enemy and destroyed another aircraft. This encounter was hardly over before Lieutenant Godfrey and his section leader shared in the destruction of a third enemy fighter. The gallantry, zeal and superior flying skill displayed by Lieutenant Godfrey in protecting the formation served as an inspiration to his fellow flyers and materially aided in the completion of an important bombing mission.