Capt. Niles Russell Gooding Jr
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Amherst - Captain Niles Russell Gooding, Jr., U.S. Navy (retired), 84, died on January 18, 2013 at Lynchburg General Hospital. Born on May 28, 1928 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, he was the son of Niles Russell Gooding, Sr. and Ida Charlotte Juselius Gooding. He was preceded in death by his parents and his son Richard Russell Gooding.
Captain Gooding attended local schools in Somerville, Massachusetts and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts. While at Tufts he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He also held a Master's degree with highest honors from the American University School of International Service in Washington, DC.
Designated a naval aviator on September 17, 1949, Captain Gooding served in Fighter Squadron 73 and 33, was a gunnery flight instructor at Barin Field in Pensacola and completed ship's company tours on the aircraft carriers Oriskany and Tarawa. He subsequently reported to Attack Squadron 65, on board the nuclear carrier Enterprise and participated in Operation Sea Orbit, the world transit of Nuclear Task Force ONE. In December 1964, he was promoted to Commander and reported to the Politico-Military Policy Division (OP 61) of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations. Commander Gooding then reported to Attack Squadron 115 as Executive Officer and completed an extensive Vietnam combat cruise in Hancock. He assumed command of the Swordsmen of Attack Squadron 145, flying the all-weather, twin jet A6A Intruder. Deploying to Vietnam again in January 1969, his squadron, as part of Carrier Air Wing NINE, suffering from casualties as a result of a major fire with bomb explosions on Enterprise off the coast of Hawaii during work-up operations for Vietnam. Combat operations in Vietnam followed in two months after Enterprise was repaired. His squadron also participated in Korean contingency operations. Then Commander Gooding detached from Attack Squadron 145 in April 1969 and reported to the A6 Golden Intruders of Attack Squadron 128, the West Coast training squadron, as Commanding Officer on May 16, 1969. In July 1970 he reported to the National War College in Washington, DC as a Senior Fellow. In July 1971 he became Executive Assistant and Senior Aide to the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Air Warfare). On August 15, 1972 he assumed the rank of Commodore as Commander, Training Air Wing ONE at the Naval Air Station, Meridian, Mississippi training jet pilots for the Fleet. He then served as Deputy Chief of Legislative Affairs for the Navy prior to his retirement in June 1977.
His decorations included the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star, nine awards of the Air Medal, two awards of the Navy Commendation Medal as well as various campaign and service medals.
After retirement from the Navy, he became a member of the Central Intelligence Agency's Senior Intelligence Service and served throughout the world in that capacity until June 1983 when he became Vice President for Government Relations for O'Gara Hess and Eisenhardt Armoring Company building armored limousines for the President and Heads of State worldwide. In December 1990 he and his wife Bonnie retired to Amherst, Virginia where they enjoyed their retirement traveling and skiing to Europe, Asia, New Zealand, Hawaii and Maine. He also enjoyed being President of the Amherst County Friends of the Library and worked on improving the literacy awareness of the young children in Amherst. He was a Master Mason, a member of the Ancient Order of the Shrine and the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry. He also was a member of Winton Country Club, the Association of Naval Aviation, the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation, the Flying Midshipmen Association, the Intruder Association, the Alumni Association of the National War College and the Military Officer's Association. Captain Gooding was a member of the Anglican Catholic Church, Church of the Epiphany, Amherst, Virginia.
Survivors included his beloved wife Bonnie Howard Wooldridge Gooding; son, Michael Matthew Gooding and wife, Donna; daughter, Anita Louise Gooding Champ and husband, Louis; and four grandchildren, Anthony and wife, Cadence Champ; Christina and husband, Devon Vanecek; Kate and Erik Gooding, and many nieces and nephews.
A memorial service will be held at The Church of the Epiphany, 104 Sunset Drive, Amherst, VA on Saturday, 1/26 at 11:00 a.m. The Reverend Kevin Spaeth will officiate. Interment with honors will be held at a later date in Arlington National Cemetery.
Special thanks to the staff and rehab staff at Fairmont Crossing.
Arrangements have been entrusted to Driskill Funeral Chapel, 434/946-5529. Online condolences may be made at www.DriskillFuneral.com
Published in The Virginian Pilot on Jan. 20, 2013