William Joseph Goodsell

VMO-6, MAG-36, 1ST MAW
United States Marine Corps
07 May 1929 - 16 June 1966
Seattle, WA
Panel 08E Line 051


Navy Cross

Naval Aviator

Purple Heart, Air Medal, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for William Joseph Goodsell

When the call was given, the men of KLONDIKE VMO-6 were there ... Major Goodsell answered the call of C Co 1st Recon Bn on June 16th 1966.

He flew into the history of 1st Recon Bn that day and give his life trying to save the men of our Battalion.

To this day the sound of helicopter prop wash brings your memory to us - 35 years later.

A memorial initiated by a fellow Marine,
Randy Kendall

The President of the United States
takes pride in awarding the



Major, United States Marine Corps

for service as set forth in the following


For extraordinary heroism while serving with Marine Observation Squadron SIX in the Republic of Vietnam on 16 June 1966. Serving as Tactical Air Coordinator (Airborne) in an armed UH-1F helicopter, Major Goodsell made repeated rocket and machine gun attacks against an enemy battalion that had encircled and trapped a Marine reconnaissance unit. When a relieving force was airlifted into the battle, he guided the transport helicopters to the landing zone and delivered such devastating attacks on the enemy positions that only one aircraft in the assault force was struck by hostile fire. He then proceeded to fly dangerously low to seek out enemy positions and aid the assault force in their rescue of the beleaguered reconnaissance unit. When a juncture of the units was accomplished, he guided the medical evacuation helicopters to the friendly positions where eighteen wounded Marines lay waiting. Realizing the necessity to accurately mark the Marine positions because of the close proximity of the enemy, he courageously elected to fly very low and slow over the position to mark it with a smoke grenade. As his mark landed directly on target, he was taken under fire by several automatic weapons positions and although mortally wounded he maintained control of his aircraft until relieved by his copilot. By his bravery and fearless devotion to duty, Major Goodsell reflected great credit upon himself and the Marine Corps and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life in the cause of freedom.

Virtual Wall Note

The battle on 16 June 1966 on Hill 488 (Nui Vu) involved a full battalion of North Vietnamese Army regulars assaulting 18 men of the 1st Platoon, C Company, 1st Recon Battalion, led by Staff Sergeant Jimmie Earl Howard. The Recon Marines had established an observation post atop Nui Vu in order to identify and prosecute by remote fire VC/NVA forces operating in the mountains west of Chu Lai.

The operation was sufficiently effective to get the NVA commander's attention and sufficiently dangerous for him to commit a fresh battalion to eradicate the Marines. He failed.

The NVA assault on Hill 488 began in late afternoon and continued through the night. The beleagued Marines were assisted by Marine and Air Force helicopter and fixed wing air support, but it was sheer courage and determination that permitted the Marines to hold until morning. Charlie 1/5 Marines were airlifted onto the reverse slope of Hill 488 and relieved the Recon Marines. Of the 18 men in the Recon Platoon, 6 died and 12 were wounded. Two men of Charlie 1/5 Marines and one each from VMO-2 and VMO-6 (Marine UH-1 squadrons) died. One Medal of Honor (Staff Sergeant Howard), 4 Navy Crosses, and 13 Silver Stars were awarded.

Immediately after the battle, Captain F. J. West, USMCR, interviewed men from Howard's platoon, Charlie 1/5, airmen from the squadrons which supported Howard, and others. In 1967 the History and Museums Division, Headquarters, U. S. Marine Corps, published his account of the fight on Hill 488. Captain West's account is available on The Virtual Wall at

HILL 488

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
a Marine of the 1st Recon Bn,
Randy Kendall
11 Feb 2001

Top of Page

Virtual Wall icon

Back to
To alpha index G
WA State Index . Panel 08E
VMO-6 Index


With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Channing Prothro, former CAP Marine
Last updated 11/30/2002