Shelby Godwin served in the Air Force during World War II. He was discharged in 1946 (Erica Dunigan/Collegian photographer)

By Kaitlynn Munoz
Staff reporter

William Shelby Godwin was drafted into the Army Air Force when he was 18 years old. He was discharged in 1946.

Godwin and his four brothers helped their father on the farm before the war. But then his two older brothers joined the military. Godwin’s father did not want him to join the forces, but Godwin’s mother supported him. During his first year in the Air Force, he asked the sergeant about his brother coming to where he was stationed to avoid the war.

Godwin’s stories of his station made his brother believe that the station would be better than going straight into the war after basic training. Godwin shared a story that he told his brother. “Flying some of those airplanes with the crazy pilots was one of my favorite stories. They didn’t have jets back then. They were just barely coming in. A trainer of an AT6 gave me a ride in one of them. When they put those things in drive, I couldn’t lift my head. I literally thought I was going to die! I couldn’t talk. All I did was had my mouth wide open yelling. When they pulled out to dive, it felt like a ton of energy just flew upside down. There were two seats, the front and the back. I was in the back seat and I looked down and I saw the controls and I saw the stick that moved when he pulled back from nose diving. We were pretty high. Diving and turning was a whole lot worse than a roller coaster. We were flying for two hours,” said Godwin.

Once Godwin was discharged from the Army Air Force, he started a family. Godwin got married and had 12 children, seven sons and five daughters. He also has six grandchildren, two girls and four boys. He has shared stories with his children about his experiences. He wouldn’t mind if they had enlisted, but none of his children decided to.

Godwin has lived at the Kansas Veterans since the beginning of February. At his new home Godwin enjoys talking to other veterans, watching television, and playing games.

Godwin’s youngest brother still flies out to see him on special occasions.

Godwin and other veterans enjoy talking to each other and hearing other experiences they have had.  “Two years in the service is good for any young man. You will learn a lot. They will punish you if you don’t do your job. They make a man out of you,” said Godwin.

Kaitlynn Munoz is a freshman majoring in communication. You may e-mail her at