Now in his late eighties, Rev. Norman Goad has released his first book, “A WWII Veteran’s Thoughts on God, Chicken Necks, and the VFW.”
Goad, who has been pastor of Shady Goad Community Church for more than 40 years, as well as Chaplain of the Grover King VFW Post 1115 in Hillsville since 1994, said he wrote the book at the urging of his granddaughter, Elizabeth Stringer. The book is a collection of “Chaplain’s Corner” articles Goad has written over the past 20 years for The Bugle, the VFW Post 1115’s newsletter.
“My granddaughter about two months ago said you ought to write a book and put your Chaplain’s Corners together. I got to praying about it and felt like the Lord wanted me to write this book to be a testimony to many people,” Goad said. “There was a preacher that read it when I sent it in and he said the articles had a different twist, a humor to them.”
Most of Goad’s Chaplain’s Corner articles begin with an interesting or humorous story that he uses to lead into a Bible verse that fits with the story.
“Norman’s stories take the reader back to a time when life was simple, but not always easy. Norman’s sly sense of humor mixes effortlessly with stories of hardship, war, and untimely death,” Stringer wrote for the back cover of the book. “Come along on the journey as you laugh and cry your way through years of storytelling, scriptures and memories.”
Goad’s stories come from a wide range of life experiences. Born and raised in an old, two-room log house six miles east of Hillsville, Goad attended Webb School through the fourth grade and part of the fifth grade. He didn’t see the town of Hillsville until he was 14 years old, and he said he was so backward and bashful, when the family had company he would run and hide until they left.
At the age of 18, Goad was drafted into the army and fought in several World War II battles, including the Battle of the Bulge. He was wounded twice in service, including once in the Battle of the Bulge, the bloodiest battle fought by the U.S. in World War II.
Awarded the Bronze Star, two Purple Hearts, and several other military honors, Goad suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) for 21 years after the war. He said he would sit around and cry, and many times felt like he was sealed up in a barrel and couldn’t get out.
“I lived on Instant Breakfast for two and a half years. It was a terrible life. I was ready for the grave and the asylum,” Goad said “But when I was 42 years old, something wonderful happened. I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I can now eat anything I want, and the Lord has let me live another 46 years as of April 2014.”
Goad joined the Grover King VFW Post 1115 in 1947. In November of 2013, he was presented a 65-year service pin from the VFW. Goad also received the George Dalby Trophy as the best Chaplain in the state of Virginia in 2004.
“It would be hard to estimate the number of military funerals that he has attended. Norman and I have stood side by side in all kinds of weather to perform the military rites for our departed comrades,” past VFW Post 1115 Commander Don Dobbins wrote in the book. “Many times as I have stood beside Norman at the grave his voice would break as he was saying goodbye to a comrade. Every month Norman travels many miles to visit with our sick and shut-in comrades.”
His memory still sharp as a tack, Goad said he had attended 2,061 military funerals as of July 10. It’s still something he has a hard time dealing with.
“That’s too many. You never get used to it,” Goad said. “In fact, we had one yesterday and I started to crack up there about the middle, but the Lord helped me get through it right quick.”
Of course, when he is not serving as the VFW’s Chaplain, Goad still gives his all to his community as pastor of Shady Grove Community Church, where he began his duties 40 years ago this April. His messages still resonate with the congregation just as strong as it did four decades ago.
“His quick wit keeps you laughing, his humbleness makes you love him, and the twinkle in his eye gives hint to the intelligence hidden inside. He is called Norman, pastor of Shady Grove,” wrote Zelda Quesenberry, a long-time member of the church. “When that dear man gets behind the pulpit and starts preaching you can feel the spirit of God descending on the church. He preaches the Word of God so plain that little children understand and so powerful that proud knees bend and all want to meet the God he serves. We are so blessed to have had him for 40 years as our Shepherd and our friend. We thank God for sending Norman Goad to us.”
“A WWII Veteran’s Thoughts on God, Chicken Necks, and the VFW,” was just released July 9, and Goad had already sold nearly 50 copies of the book within a day. He said he ordered a shipment of 100 to begin with, but can order more at any time. Goad said the book costs $12 and is currently available at Omega Church & Office Supplies in on Main Street in Hillsville.