Goodfellas Remembering Those Who Gave It All

Benny Godwin and Ron Miriello plant flags on a veteran’s grave at Erwin Memorial Park Wednesday. DAILY RECORD PHOTO/ELIOT DUKE

By Eliot Duke
Dunn Daily Record

Benny Godwin never served in the military, but that didn’t stop him from doing his part.

Godwin and other members of the Erwin Goodfellas got to work early Wednesday morning placing flags on the markers of every veteran laid to rest at Erwin Memorial Park. Godwin and his flag planting partner, Ron Miriello, braved the pre-summer heat and swarming gnats to pay their respects to the men who gave it all.

“I just feel like I owe it to the people who have served and sacrificed their life for it,” Godwin said. “I feel honored to be able to come out here and work with these guys. I look forward to doing it.”

Flags pepper the landscape at Erwin Memorial Park thanks to the Erwin Goodfellas. DAILY RECORD PHOTO/ELIOT DUKE

Miriello served in the Army during the Vietnam War as a machine gunner on river assault boats. He brings the same level of commitment he served with to now honor his fallen brothers and sisters, especially ones so close to home.

“We want to honor those who have died in the past and who have served,” said Miriello. “I love veterans and I love people who have served this country. I’m a patriot and my blood is red, white and blue. Anything I can do to help assist with veterans, I’m just thrilled to do it.”

A Goodfellas member suggested the flag-planting idea three years ago and the rest of the group ran with it.

Jim Wade places a flag on his father’s grave marker with the help of Eddy Blackman. DAILY RECORD PHOTO/ELIOT DUKE

“We all thought it was a great idea,” Erwin-native Jim Wade, a former Army National Guard serviceman for seven years, said. “It’s part of a tradition for us now just to recognize veterans who are buried out here who served their country. They were dedicated and gave up their time and energy, and in some cases their lives serving this country. We just want to recognize that and remember them.”

By the time Monday rolls around, anyone paying a visit to Erwin Memorial Park will see the important role local veterans played in shaping America.

Benny Godwin and Ron Miriello plant a flag at Erwin Memorial Park on Wednesday. DAILY RECORD PHOTO/ELIOT DUKE

“There are quite a few out here,” Wade said. “We enjoy doing that because it’s just paying respect and tribute to those who served to let them know we remember them and appreciate the sacrifices they made. We hope to continue doing this as long as we’re able to.”

For Veterans Day, Wade said the group planned to not only put out new flags on markers but replace older ones as well. Initial donations helped secure several hundred flags, but Wade said the Goodfellas can always use more as they want to put out as many as possible.

Erwin Goodfellas placed more than 100 flags on grave markers of veterans in honor of Memorial Day. DAILY RECORD PHOTO/ELIOT DUKE

Not everyone, who turned out to plant flags on Wednesday was a veteran, but everyone out there poking holes in the sun-baked ground under a hot mid-morning sun did so out of love for their country and the people who made it possible.


  1. I know some school age children that are very involved in celebrating today. I see how the public school has striped away the much deserved respect and support these fallen veteran deserved by not wanting to teach certain parts of history. Yesterday we overheard one young girl after Sunday School ask another was it Veterans Day weekend or Memorial Day weekend she gets confused. The old man that could still barley fit in his uniform so eloquently said, dear remember tomorrow is for those that didn’t come home and veteran day will be for me that survived should I still be living. Not a word was said in this crowded hall way, as we entered the Church and folks spread out you could hear the whispers about how that young lady will probably never forget the difference from now own. The girl is related to me and even I feel in some way I have failed over the years in showing support to the fallen now.

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