Earl Francis Godfrey was born in Cozad, Nebraska, on August 9, 1924, son of Earl Lawrence (now deceased) and Frances M. (Tuthill) Godfrey. He attended Nebraska State Teachers College at Kearney, and the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. He enlisted in the US Naval Reserve on September 17, 1942 as an Aviation Cadet and had flight training at the Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida. He was commissioned Ensign, USNR, and designated Naval Aviator on July 19, 1944 and subsequently advanced in rank to that of Captain, to date _ from July 1, 1965, having transferred from the Naval Reserve to the US Navy in August 1947.
Following his commissioning and a month’s instruction at the Operational Training Command, Daytona Beach, Florida, he joined Fighter Squadron EIGHTY-EIGHT, attached to the USS Yorktown, in October 1944. He received the Air Medal and a Gold Star in lieu of the Second Air Medal and was cited in part as follows:
Air Medal: "For meritorious achievement… in operations against enemy Japanese forces in the vicinity of the Japanese Homeland from July 10 to August 13, 1945. Participated in five missions carried out under hostile antiaircraft fire near strategic airfields and installations and in heavily guarded sea lanes, Ensign Godfrey bombed a small enemy vessel in adjacent waters and penetrated antiaircraft fire to blow up a locomotive and strafe revetments and grounded aircraft, thereby contributing materially to the infliction of extensive damage on the enemy…
Gold Star in lieu of the Second Air Medal: "For meritorious achievement during operations against enemy forces over the Japanese Homeland, July 10, 1945. Obtaining excellent photographic coverage of six important airfields in the face of intense antiaircraft fire (he) contributed materially to the success of his squadron in this area…”
He is also entitled to the Ribbon for, and a facsimile of the Presidential Unit Citation awarded the USS Yorktown.
After a period of inactive duty, January to August 1947, he had further instruction at the Naval Air Training Command, Pensacola, Florida, and in July 1948 Joined Fighter Squadron ONE HUNDRED TWELVE, based on the USS Philipine Sea. For completing twenty missions over the Korean Area during the period August 6, 1950 to January 26, 1951, while attached to that squadron, he recieved Gold Stars in lieu of the Third and Fourth Air Medals. He also is entitled to the Ribbon for and a facsimile of the Navy Unit Commendation awarded the USS Philipine Sea.
From June 1951 to December 1952 he was Project Pilot and Project Officer of Air Development Squadron THREE, then reported for instruction at the General Line School, Monterey, California. In August 1953 he became an Instructor in jet transitional training at the Advanced Training Command, Kingsville, Texas, and during the period August 1954 to July 1955 was a student at the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island. He Joined the USS Ticondorega (CVA-14), deployed with the SIXTH Fleet, as Assistant Air Operations Officer, and remained in that capacity until January 1957, when he transferred to Fighter Squadron THIRTY—THREE to serve as Operations Officer and Executive Officer. In that assignment, he participated in Operation Strikeback in the fall of that year.
Assigned in July 1958 to the Naval Air Test Center, Patuxent River, Maryland, he had test pilot training until February 1959 and remained there for duty until June 1961. In July 1961 he reported for prospective commanding officer training with Attack Squadron ONE HUNDRED TWENTY-FIVE and in February 1962 transferred to Attack Squadron FIFTY-FIVE to serve as Commanding Officer. Under his command, that squadron participated in a South American cruise in 1962 and in a tour in the Western Pacific on board the USS Ticonderoga in 1962-1963. In June 1963 he returned to Attack Squadron HUNDRED which he commanded until September 1964. The next month he became Executive Officer of the USS Ticonderoga. In addition to the Legion of Merit; the Air Medal with three Gold Stars, the Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon with one star and the Navy
Unit, Commendation Ribbon, Captain Godfrey has the American Campaign
Medal; Asiatic-Pacific Medal with star; World War II Victory Medal; Navy
Occupation Service Medal; National Defense Service Medal with bronze star; Korean Service Medal with three stars; the United Nations Service Medal; and the Vietnam Service Medal. He also has the Korean Presidential Unit Citation Badge and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.