James Goodson was born on March 21, 1921, in New York City. He was aboard the S.S. Athenia when it was torpedoed by a German U-boat on September 3, 1939, and after being brought back to Ireland, he made his way to Toronto, Canada, and joined the Royal Canadian Air Force on March 5, 1941. Flight Sergeant Goodson earned his pilot wings with No. 6 Service Flying Training School at Dunnville, Canada, on December 5, 1941, and then deployed to England where he flew with the British Royal Air Force No. 43 Squadron, No. 416 Squadron, and then as Commander of No. 133 Squadron. He transferred to the U.S. Army Air Forces on September 25, 1942, and served with the 336th Fighter Squadron of the 4th Fighter Group. Goodson became the Commander of the 336th FS in March 1944, and he was shot down and became a Prisoner of War on June 20, 1944, being held at Stalag Luft 3 in Sagan, Poland, and later at Stalag 7A in Moosburg, Bavaria, until being repatriated in April 1945. Maj Goodson left active duty on December 15, 1945, and served in the Air Force Reserve until his retirement on March 1, 1959. During World War II, Goodson was credited with the destruction of 14 enemy aircraft in aerial combat plus 1 probable and 1 damaged, and another 15 enemy aircraft on the ground while strafing enemy airfields. James Goodson died on May 1, 2014, and was buried at the Massachusetts National Cemetery in Bourne, Massachusetts.
His Distinguished Service Cross Citation reads:
For extraordinary heroism in action with the enemy on the 16th of March, 1944. Major Goodson, while leading in a squadron of fighter airplanes furnishing protection to bombers, attacked a force of more than eight enemy fighters, despite the fact that they had the protection of twenty to thirty fighters acting as top cover. In this encounter Major Goodson destroyed one enemy plane. In spite of his unfavorable combat position he engaged and damaged another enemy fighter. Although his own plane was damaged by flying pieces of this enemy plane he attacked and fought another enemy plane until his ammunition was exhausted. Again on the 23rd of March, 1944, Major Goodson displayed great courage in attacking a superior force of enemy fighters similarly protected from above, and destroyed one of their number. He then attacked and destroyed an enemy fighter which was attacking a friendly fighter which appeared to be in distress. The outstanding heroism displayed by Major Goodson upon these occasions reflects the highest credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of the United States.