Thursday, September 3, 2020

Sept. 3, 1950: Training Accident Claims the Lives of Two Ga. ANG Pilots

By Major William Carraway

Historian, Georgia Army National Guard

F-84 Thunderjets of the Georgia Air National Guard fly in formation in 1950. Georgia National Guard Archives.

Two Georgia Air National Guard Pilots of the Marietta-based 128th Fighter Squadron were killed Sunday Sept. 3, 1950 when their F-84 Thunderjet fighters collided in the skies over Dobbins Air Force Base. Killed were 1st Lt. Kenneth M. Goodrum, 26, and 1st Lt. Tom Martin, 25, both of Griffin, Ga.[1] The pilots were conducting flight training in anticipation of possible Korean War mobilization when their aircraft collided at more than 500 miles per hour at an elevation of 20,000 feet. Both men were thrown clear of the wreckage. Goodrum managed to deploy his parachute but did not survive.[2]


Martin was born Nov. 5, 1924 in Griffin, Ga. He enlisted in the U.S. Army December 15, 1942, completed pilot training and was assigned to the 358th Fighter Group.[3] The 358th provided fighter escort to bombing missions over Germany first with the P-47 Thunderbolt and later the P-51 Mustang.[4]


Born June 29, 1924, Goodrum entered Army service June 19, 1943 and served as a flight officer in World War II.[5] Joining the Ga. ANG after the war, Goodrum, served as aide de camp and pilot for Maj. Gen. Ernest Vandiver, Adjutant General of Georgia and frequently flew the general and Governor Herman Talmadge on official visits throughout the state. During the 1949 annual training at Camp Stewart, Goodrum, flying a B-26 Bomber, towed aerial targets for the 90 mm gun crews of the 108th Antiaircraft Artillery Brigade to conduct target practice.[6]


Gravestones of 1st Lt. Kenneth Goodrum and 1st Lt. Tom Martin, Oak Hill Cemetery, Griffin, Ga. Photos by Rebekah Duncan.

The pilots were remembered during a solemn ceremony in Griffin September 5. Both Governor Talmadge and Gen. Vandiver served as pallbearers. Martin and Goodrum were interred at Oak Hill Cemetery in Griffin, Ga.[7]


[1] “Two Air Guard Jet Pilots Meet Death Above Dobbins.” The Georgia Guardsman Magazine, Sept/Oct 1950, 7.

[2] “2 Georgians Killed in Collision of Jets.” The Atlanta Constitution, Sept. 4, 1950, 1.

[3] Headstone Application for Tom A. Martin. U.S., Headstone Applications for Military Veterans, 1925-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2012.

[4] History: 358th Fighter Group.

[5] Headstone Application for Kenneth M. U.S., Headstone Applications for Military Veterans, 1925-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2012.

[6] “Anti-Aircraft Field Training Big Success.” The Georgia Guardsman Magazine, August 1949, 7.

[7] “Griffin Rites Today for Guard Pilots” The Atlanta Constitution, Sept 5, 1950, 23.

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