It’s like a job but Keith Goudy doesn’t get paid for preserving the history of his fellow Vietnam veterans.
He devotes four to eight hours daily to his Facebook groups. He is the founder and president of the Vietnam War History Foundation which administers three Facebook groups: VietnamWarHistoryOrg, Vietnam Veteran Wall of Honor memorial, and Vietnam War Book/Film Club.
VietnamWarHistoryOrg, which he said is the largest historical based Facebook group on Vietnam War history, has 42,000 members. Joss Huot is its lead administrator. The other two groups have 5,000 members apiece.
Goudy, who resides in Marana, Arizona, became one of the early administrators of the history Facebook group in 2014 after it was started in 2012 by Erik Villard, an historian for the U.S. Army Center for Military History. Goudy had a history background because he was a summer worker for Jackson Hole History Museum in Jackson, Wyoming, from 2013-16.
“I fell in love with history,” he said.
Around 2015, Goudy started the Vietnam Veteran Wall of Honor memorial Facebook group. This is so family members and others can post their remembrances of Vietnam veterans who have died since the war.
“My focus is that people will post about folks that died after the war,” he said.
Many Gold Star families have joined the memorial group. Goudy said he finds it gratifying when he receives feedback from these survivors of veterans.
“When I get a personal note from a son or daughter, understanding what their dad went through, that’s worth a lot,” he said.
The Vietnam War Book/Film Club Facebook group is for people to post book reviews, discuss films and promote their books with links for the sales.
Goudy’s foundation enforces the Facebook groups’ prospective rules for membership: no cursing, no swearing, no politics, no racial slurs. The history group is strictly for Vietnam War history from 1955-75. The memorial group is for remembrances of veterans who have died since the war. The book/film group is for book reviews, film discussions and book promotions.
Since 2018 Goudy has also served with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund on their project to acquire a photo for all 58,281 names on The Wall.
“I call it Operation Missing Photos,” Goudy said. “I give them four names each week. We put it on the Vietnam Memorial Fund Facebook page. And someone will see it and then they’ll send in the photo to us.
“When I started, I think there were over 3,000 (missing photos). Right now, we’re under 20. My part is just trying to get the word out. I think I’ve had an impact. I’m real proud. I think I’ve made a difference on this.”
Jan Scruggs is founder of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, a nonprofit which dedicated the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in November 1982 in Washington, D.C. Goudy, who formerly lived in Ohio and then Colorado, has visited at least 15 times and tries to return every five years for the anniversary.
Goudy, 71, was born and raised in Moundsville, West Virginia. When the birthday lottery for the draft happened in December 1969, his birthday came up under 60.
By the end of March 1970, he was in basic training at Fort Knox, Kentucky. He stayed at Fort Knox for advanced individual training for clerical school since he had two years of typing in high school.
After AIT, he had 30 days leave and by late August 1970 he was in South Vietnam. He was put on a C-130, after processing in, and flown to An Khe base camp. The 4th Infantry Division left Pleiku and officially moved to An Khe in 1970. After three days of in-country training, the Soldiers received their duties.
Since he typed well as a “71 Bravo” clerk/typist, Goudy was sent to work at the 4th Infantry Division supply office as one of their two clerk/typists.
The 4th Infantry Division decided to go home in December 1970. Goudy was transferred to the Da Nang Support Command and assigned to their Inspector General office as the lone clerk/typist. He extended his yearlong tour two months so he could receive an early-out and not have to do any stateside duty. He left Vietnam in October 1971 and was discharged from the Army.
“Anytime a clerk/typist would see action was if your base was overrun,” he said laughing when asked if he saw combat.
Goudy, who has a bachelor’s in sociology from West Liberty State University in 1977, retired in May 2009 from the disability agency for the state of Ohio after three decades of service. He volunteered at the Nevada Veterans Home in Boulder City, Nevada, before moving to Colorado and then to Arizona. He and his wife of 44 years, Nancy, moved from Estes Park, Colorado, to Marana, Arizona, in March 2021. Marana is just north of Tucson.
He transferred to Tucson Chapter 106 of the Vietnam Veterans of America. Goudy has signed up to volunteer with the Tucson Stand-down Day, for homeless veterans, on March 16.
His hobbies include photography, hiking and riding his bicycle.
Goudy shared his thoughts on this nation’s commemoration of 50 years since the Vietnam War.
“I think they’ve done a pretty good job,” he said. “I’m happy.”
Anyone interested in helping with his foundation’s website is asked to email email@example.com.
Editor’s note: This is the 360th in a series of articles about Vietnam veterans as the United States commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War.