John Goodman, an all-time great Sun Devil (Photo: ASU)
Throughout the decades, numerous former Sun Devils have served this country with bravery and distinction. The subject of the next entry on our 100 Day Countdown is the remarkable story of one such individual who began as a quarterback and ended up a general.
After a stellar stint as a three-sport star at Encina High School in Sacramento, John F. Goodman came to Arizona State to play quarterback for head coach Frank Kush. On his very first pass in game action in 1964, Goodman connected on a touchdown pass.
He became the Sun Devils' starting quarterback a year later. Goodman completed nearly 55% of his passes for 1,165 yards, nine touchdowns and four interceptions in leading ASU to a 6-4 win on the strength of a season-ending five-game winning streak.
As a senior in 1966, Goodman threw for 1,259 yards, eight touchdowns and 14 interceptions as ASU had to win their final three games to finish 5-5. However, Goodman was able to bookend his career with touchdown passes, as his final throw as a Sun Devil went for the game-winning score to beat Arizona 20-17.
Thrilling, no doubt. But for Goodman, that was just the beginning.
He joined the United States Army in 1967, and was deployed on a combat tour to Vietnam as part of a Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol team, tasked with highly dangerous intelligence gathering missions behind enemy lines. After serving with distinction and earning the Bronze Star, he entered the Army Reserve in 1969 and briefly returned to football with the New Orleans Saints.
However, his comeback to the gridiron was short lived. Goodman joined the Marine Corps in 1971 and embarked on a career as a pilot, earning his wings in 1973.
During his subsequent service, he emerged as an elite pilot, including time at the prestigious United States Navy Fighter Weapons School (now known as United States Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor program), known to most of us as TOPGUN. Yes, that Top Gun.
Over the next several years, he continued to move up the ranks, completing training in F/A-18 Hornets and then serving in Kuwait as the Air Plans Officer during the first Gulf War. More commands followed in the next several years before he was promoted to Brigadier General in 1997, and four years later promoted again to Major General.
Goodman would then command Marine forces in Korea and then in 2005 he was named Deputy Commander of Marine Forces, Pacific and later took over as overall commander in 2008. He also led Marine humanitarian efforts to the storm ravaged Burmese people. He ended his career as a three star Lieutenant General that same year.
From 2008 through February of this year, Lt. General Goodman was the head of the Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance.
High school star, Sun Devil quarterback, TOPGUN pilot, three-star general, humanitarian. If that is not one helluva great and honorable life, then nothing is. The only question is who should play him should Hollywood correctyl decide to turn his life into a movie. May we suggest Dennis Quaid or Chris Cooper?