By Betsy Rosenblatt Rosso
Only 18 years old and fresh out of Navy boot camp, Wayne Goodson was assigned to Naval Intelligence, given a top secret clearance, and flown halfway around the world to a secret duty station in China.
As part of the Sino-American Cooperative Organization (SACO), Wayne worked as a radioman in one of 14 camps located in China to help U.S. forces during World War II. He was stationed there only for a year and a half, but his time in China created lifelong bonds with the men with whom he served.
SACO, a forerunner of the Navy SEALS, was also the unit that Judith Barbieri’s late father served with in China. “He was there for more than a year, and moved to nine different camps during that time,” she said. “When the war was over, he had to get to Shanghai where an American troop ship would pick him up.”
When he arrived in Shanghai, the Japanese were still in control, and he and two other SACO members were captured and imprisoned for a few days before they were rescued. Upon leaving China, SACO members had to swear oaths of secrecy. The 3,500 service members who served in SACO were the first Americans to serve under a foreign leader during a time of war.
Today, only 200 SACO members survive, and 50 of them are involved in a reunion group. They recently decided to honor the memory of each passing member by donating to the Society.
Other veterans reunion groups also give generously to the Society to honor veterans and their legacy of service.
For example, when the USS Coghlan (DD606) Association dissolved this year, the members contributed the balance of their bank account to the Society. The Coghlan was launched in 1942 and decommissioned in 1947, with 900 crew members assigned during that time. “No man was ever killed or lost on the Coghlan during World War II,” wrote Marsha Swantz, treasurer of the Association. The Coghlan received eight battle stars for service during the war.
The National Amphibious Veterans Association (NAVA) also closed out its treasury with a donation to the Society. “The gift was in gratitude for the good work that you do and have done for us and our Shipmates over the years,” wrote retired Master Chief Paul Wilfong, who served as treasurer of NAVA.
In addition, the USS Chikaskia (AO-54) reunion group, the USS Champlin (DD601) reunion group, and the Special Forces Association have all made generous donations this year to the Society to honor Shipmates who died.
When Sailors and Marines re ect on their active duty service, they remember that the Society was there for them, their Shipmates and fellow Marines. Because of donors like you, we’ll be there for many more generations of Sea Service members.