Oldest Catawba County war veteran dies at 104

Sylvia Ray
Staff Writer

The oldest Catawba County war veteran, 104-year-old Joe Goble, died Saturday at Abernethy Laurels, where he had made his home with his late wife and later on his own.

As a veteran of world war II and a true hero of the battle of Guadalcanal in the pacific, Goble’s story of his post-war life here reads like the most fascinating fiction - but it isn’t. It’s truth and is the story of a brave young wounded warrior who used his wits to come home “In one Piece” and to lead a life of astounding activity until he was almost 100 years old.

In 2017 Richard Eller, Catawba Valley Community College history professor, historian-in-resident for the county Historian Association and publisher of books by CVCC’s Red Hawk Press accompanied me to interview Goble for a chapter we used in a 2018 book, “Newton: Then & Now.”

He was a young marine from northern Iredell County who lead two colleagues forward over a hill on the Japanese-held island, was shot by a sniper but dragged a dying wounded fellow to the medical tent and was left behind when the full hospital ship sailed away. He was taken to New Zealand and then on the open deck of a Dutch freighter got back to San Fresco.

When he got to the Navy hospital in Bethesda, M,d., a doctor from the Mayo Clinic decided to save his leg after Goble had cut away another doctors bandages to relieve his pain.

When he got a medical discharge he ended up in Newton and opened a downtown jewelry store because he had taken a watchmaking course to get a seated job when a surgeon told him his leg would have to be amputated in about a year.

After a lengthy career - with both legs - he and his wife Katheryn retired and Joe began a weekly hiking outing in the South Mountain with Newtonians.

Joe Goble hiked on his two legs until he was 98 years old, going on outings to the Grand Canyon and New Hampshire mountains.