John R. "Gooch" Gottschalk, 776th
12 Feb 2003
A Celebration of His Life
by Kirsten Hertz
As I sat and tried to think of things to say about my Grandfather, so many things
come to mind. He filled so many roles for so many people - Husband, father, friend,
neighbor, grandfather, great grandfather. Now as we gather to celebrate 82 years, I
look out and see so very many faces that have been touched by the man I knew as Pa,
my children knew as Grandpa Pop.
Few people can truly say that they are exactly
where they want to be. Itís the consensus of our family that this was definitely true
of Grandpa. He so loved this valley and no matter where he traveled, there was always
something that made Lovelock and home a much better place to be. His knowledge
of this land and its people provided us with history and so very much entertainment at
When we gathered as a family to talk about our
memories, we laughed and remembered so many wonderful things about this man.
As the youngest of his family, he went to work very early in life. He held so many
jobs, yet he never really got to keep a paycheck of his own, first he gave to his parents
and then to his own family. Whether it was loading box cars, sacking grain, working
in a service station, as a projectionist at the theater or farming. In all the years of
work and worry, never was there a complaint.
As a child there were always pranks and mischief.
One story that I had not heard before until the other night was the time that he and friends
were playing in boxcars and the railroad men locked them in and moved the car down the
tracks (just a bit). Grandpa screamed and kicked the toes out of his one good pair of shoes.
Once the car stopped, he was sure that they were in Chicago!
How can you summarize a life that spanned 82
years and a time in history most of us now canít even begin to imagine? My Dad &
I were talking about País military career and the fact that he completed 35 combat
missions. He was a decorated veteran and awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Iíd like to refer you now to the press release from the
Nevada State Journal, March, 1945 .
In all that he lived and saw during that time, most
of which we knew nothing about for many, many years. What we as family and
others got from him about this time came in bits and pieces. He never saw himself
as a hero, he felt heroes were those that did not return.
As I tried to imagine the life he knew, I am even
more amazed at the man he was, for I realize what he gave to his world, his community
and most of all to his family. I worry as a parent that my children wonít remember
Grandpa Pop, but they are clearly his legacy. Itís surprising looking at old photographs
of Grandpa how much Joey looks like Pa, Erin possesses his love of pranks, as she
locked Pa in the chicken coop as a little girl and carries on País physical abilities by
playing rugby. My daughter Madison and cousin Rachel were blessed with his ability
to sing beautifully, my daughter McKenna possesses his extreme love of sweets.
So for me, each time I see a bit of Pa in Joey, hear Erin laugh, hear Madison and
Rachel singing or give McKenna a candy, I know Grandpa will be watching and
The things I remember are the times when Joey
and I got to stay overnight with Gram and Pa and how much we loved wearing País t-shirts
to sleep in. We would be incensed if Mom ever considered sending pajamaís with us
for our overnight stays. I remember going to the Circus and begging Gram for cotton
candy, and her telling me no that I wouldnít like it and then begging Pa and him buying
it for me. Of course Gram was right and I didnít like it, but Pa ate it all for me. I
remember going with him to McKinnon Ford and picking up the gray Ford and being
so very excited to be driving with my Grandpa in a brand new truck. I remember
Mom dumping all our Halloween candy in a bowl and Grandpa picking through and
eventually eating it all. I remember him making my favorite breakfast of blueberry
pancakes. I remember his silly rhymes "You like e lice, come long Flyday".
I remember early Saturday mornings when Mom and I loved to sleep in and Grandpa
coming in the house and standing at the end of the hall calling and asking if anybody
was awake. I remember him being disgusted with me for wanting to go out of state
to college, and then him coming to Moscow, Idaho to visit and telling me that that
was just where he wanted me to be. I remember during the difficult times in my own
life the things he did to help: washing my car and not allowing me to lift a finger,
supervising the clean up of my yard, and always assuring me that things have a way
of working out.
Iíve realized even more lately his complete devotion
to family and to Gram. Even near the end, his constant thought was of her. He
cherished his family and each and every day he spent with us. The last time I talked
to Pa, I told him that I loved him and he looked at me and said "I know that you
Each of us gathered here have our own memories
and reasons why the man known as John Robert, Bob, Gooch, Dad, Grandpa and
Grandpa Pop touched our lives. It saddens me to think that we will no longer have
him with us every day but I am heartened by the legacy I know he has left the world.
My uncle said the other night "Angels fly because they take themselves lightly"
and I know Grandpaís flying now.
Just a word
Bob, "Gooch", was a good neighbor and
friend, as well as the man who inspired this web site. A couple of years ago he brought
me some excellent photos that he had obtained during his time with the 776th and
the 464th at Pantanella.
These photos are included in the photo galleries
on this site, most of them had no caption information as he had insisted on remaining
anonymous. It pleases me that, thanks to Bob's family, I can now let you know that
he was the inspiration for these pages and I have now notated his contributions to this web site.
When I first told Bob that I wished to share his photos
via the internet and more specifically a 464th BG web site, he was very supportive.
He was not only the major contributor of photographs but he also provided me with
pertinent information and introduced me to others from the Group who have also
contributed generously to this site.
Thank you, Bob. I, for one, am glad that you were
there for us. Thank you for giving me the chance to look into a bit of your past. And, I
just wanted you to know, in my book...you are a hero. Godspeed, Wendy
Back to the Last Sortie Index.
If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please
contact our webmaster
via email at email@example.com.
All photographic images contained herein are the property of their respective
owners and have been used here with written permission. All of the clipart
images are original works by Little Creek Graphics
unless otherwise stated.
This website was designed and is maintained by Little Creek Web Design.
Copyright © 2004 Little Creek.
All rights reserved.