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Post Office Ceremony Honors Altadena Hero's Life

The post office at 281 E. Colorado Blvd. in Pasadena was renamed the "First Lieutenant Oliver Goodall Post Office Building" in honor of an Altadena resident and Tuskegee Airman.

Oliver Goodall's timeless message to friends and family was to always stand up for something.

On Saturday morning, dozens stood for him at a ceremony to change the name of Pasadena's Colorado Boulevard post office to honor Goodall, a postal worker who also served as a member of the Tuskegee Airmen, a group of black World War II fighter pilots who fought at a time of non-integrated U.S. armed forces. Goodall lived in Altadena from 1961 until his death in November 2010.

"When they did it, it wasn't to make history," said Tony Goodall, one of Oliver Goodall's grandsons attending the ceremony. "They joined because they knew they wanted to fly, and people were telling them they couldn't fly, for whatever reason -- they weren't smart enough, whatever. They were going to prove everybody else wrong."

Goodall entered the service as a pilot in 1943. He was among 60 black U.S. Army Air Corps officers arrested for trying to peacefully integrate an all-white officers’ club at Freeman Airfield in Indiana in 1945. 

The incident, called the Freeman Field Mutiny, became part of the inspiration for the movement to racially integrate the armed forces, according to Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Pasadena, who was one of several speakers at the ceremony.

"Designating this post office is a small, but fitting way to honor the legacy of Oliver Goodall and the other Tuskegee Airmen who bravely stood by their country, when few would stand by them," Schiff said to the crowd.

Among those joining Schiff were Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard, Tony Goodall, Tuskegee Airman Edward Tillmon and Lowell Steward Jr., president of the Los Angeles Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen.

"I think it's so appropriate, because the postal system has always served our country day and night, and Oliver has always served the community and the Tuskegee Airmen day and night," Tillmon said. 

Steward remembered Goodall from the days when he used to visit his house, where Steward's father and Goodall "would be going at it, bantering back and forth" to the point where the younger Steward thought they were actually angry at each other.

"But they weren't," he said. "That was the Tuskegee way. You had to dish it out and you had to take it. And it was all in love. But he told me one time, he said, 'Junior ... whatever you do in life, you gotta be on the right side. Whatever you do, stand up, and believe in your rights. Be vocal about it, don't sit back and let things go unchecked. If you believe it, and you think you're right, stand up for it.' And to this day, I always remember that."

The original plan was to name the Altadena Post Office after Goodall, but that  in June.

Sandra Thomas, chair of the Altadena Town Council, was proud of the turnout for the ceremony, especially since many in the crowd were Altadena residents and that the event occurred on the eve of many community events to honor Dr. Martin Luther King.

"He's one of our own," she told Patch. "It's been a thrill to have he and his family around in the community. We all know of his service. We hope this legacy now will always depict the work that he did."

Dan Abendschein contributed to this report.

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