July 4, 2015
L.A. Dodgers Salute Joseph Godges as “Military Hero of the Game”
An unshakable salute from U.S. Marine Corps Private First Class Joseph Godges.
PHOTO COURTESY LOS ANGELES DODGERS/JILL WEISLEDER
A THUNDEROUS AND PROLONGED STANDING OVATION from tens of thousands of fans erupted as U.S. Marine Corps Private First Class Joseph Godges was escorted to home base for a ceremony honoring him as the “Military Hero of the Game” at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California, on May 17, 2015.
As the jumbotrons projected live videos and vintage photographs of Godges above left and right fields, Dodger Stadium’s Public Address Announcer Todd Leitz heralded the life and service of the 91-year-old war hero, a Polish immigrant who explained that he had enlisted in the Marines during World War II “to earn” his U.S. citizenship; whose proudest wartime moment came when he witnessed the raising of the U.S. flag over the ruins of the former Marine Corps barracks on Guam on July 29, 1944, after eight days of heavy fighting on that island; and who later went on to raise six children with his wife of more than 65 years, Ida Godges.
“I cried during the standing ovation,” said longtime Dodger fan Julie Tugend. “It was awesome!” Throughout the game, Angelenos and visitors of all kinds came up to Godges to shake his hand and to thank him for his service to his country.
After the game, a Dodger father asked if he could take photographs of his two young sons with the military hero, who was happy to oblige. “It’s important for my boys to know their history,” said the father, who said his parents had both grown up in Chavez Ravine prior to the construction of Dodger Stadium on that site. “My mother’s house was on third base,” he added.
It was a homecoming for Godges, too, who had brought his own children to baseball games at the stadium for many years after it opened in 1962. “My favorite Dodger memory is taking my kids to the games soon after Dodger Stadium first opened in Los Angeles and watching Sandy Koufax pitch his no-hitters,” Godges recalled.
A half-century later, in 2015, most of his grown children and their spouses, along with three of his grandsons, were on hand to accompany him to Dodger Stadium and to share their appreciation for him with the throngs of Dodger faithful.
Joseph Godges wears the uniform of the 6th Marine Division alongside his biggest fan and wife of 65 years, Ida Godges.
Brothers Joe and John Godges escort their parents, Joseph and Ida Godges, onto the field for the national anthem.
Joe, Joseph, and Ida Godges watch the first inning from a prime spot: the VIP seats directly behind the dugout between home plate and first base.
This father and his two boys celebrate with Genie Killoran, the eldest daughter of Joseph Godges, after the boys had their photos taken with the military hero of the game. “It’s important for my boys to know their history,” said their father, whose own parents had both hailed from Chavez Ravine.
From the shores of Guam’s peninsula to the halls of Dodger fame, U.S. Marine Corps Private First Class Joseph Godges received a roaring ovation from tens of thousands of fans at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on May 17, 2015, more than 70 years after his World War II heroics in the Pacific.