A soldier who grew up near Chicago died during a training exercise in Arizona on Tuesday, military officials said, marking the third death of a soldier with ties to the area in less than two weeks.
Master Sgt. Nathan Goodman, 36, died Jan. 14 during a "routine military free fall training exercise" near Eloy, Arizona, a U.S. Army Special Operations Command spokesman said in a statement, adding that the incident remained under investigation.
Goodman was born in Pasadena, California, officials said, but grew up near Chicago and was living in Hope Mills, North Carolina, at the time of his death. An Army spokesman said he enlisted in the military in 2002 and had completed eight deployments: four to Afghanistan, one to Iraq, two to Africa and one to Kyrgyzstan. Goodman earned several awards, including a Bronze Star, for his service.
"Nathan was a beloved member of 3rd Special Forces Group and an exceptional leader in the Special Operations community,” Col. Nathan Prussian, commander of the 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne), said in a statement. "Our heartfelt condolences go out to his family during this difficult time and our priority now rests with taking care of them and our soldiers."
He is survived by a wife and two children, officials said. His wife Kelly posted on Facebook on Tuesday that it was the "worst day" of her life, adding that the loss was "difficult to comprehend."
"There’s no reason this should have happened! I’m just out of words," Kelly Goodman wrote. "Praying his soul is resting in Heaven. I am so thankful for the last year of Nathan’s life, he has found the Lord, he has gone to church & opened up to God, has prayed, has made a relationship!!! That is my one & only comfort in all of this!!"
Members of the Eloy community held a vigil for Goodman Wednesday night, gathering to sing and light candles to honor the soldier whose body was found near their homes.
Nathan Goodman's death was the third of a soldier with ties to the Chicago area in just 10 days.
On Jan. 4, 23-year-old Army Specialist Henry Mayfield Jr., of Hazel Crest, was one of three people killed when militants attacked a military base in Kenya, officials said.
Then on Jan. 11, authorities said 21-year-old Miguel Villalon, of Aurora, was one of two service members killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan.