Highly Decorated Special Operations Soldier Dies in the Middle of Free-Fall Training

Special Forces Master Sergeant Nathan Goodman died during a training drill in Arizona on Tuesday, January 14, 2020, according to a report that military officials relayed to The Fayetteville Observer.

Goodman was participating in a military free fall exercise near Eloy, Arizona based on a statement that the U.S. Army Special Operations Command released on Wednesday, January 15, 2020. So far, the statement did not reveal any details of the incident, but it stated that it’s under investigation.

Goodman was a member of the 3rd Special Forces Group’s 2nd Battalion, according to the statement. He reached the position of Master Sergeant in July, thus making him the operations “team” sergeant for a Special Forces Operational Detachment-Alpha.

The Master Sergeant went on four deployments to Afghanistan, one to Iraq, two to Iraq, and one to Kyrgyzstan, according to the statement.

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Nathan was a beloved member of 3rd Special Forces Group and an exceptional leader in the Special Operations community,” said Colonel Nathan Prussian, commander of the group. “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.”

WRAL reported on Goodman’s extensive coursework as a member of the special forces:

Goodman had graduated from the basic, advanced, senior and master leader courses; the Army Special Operations Forces Senior Noncommissioned Officer Fundamentals Course; basic and small group instructor training courses; the Special Forces Advanced Reconnaissance, Target Analysis and Exploitation Techniques Course; basic, jumpmaster and advanced tactical infiltration military free fall courses; the Special Forces Advanced Urban Combat Course; the Advanced Special Operations Techniques Course; and the Small Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Operator Course.

His awards were also numerous:

Bronze Star Medal (two Oak Leaf Clusters); Legion of Merit; Meritorious Service Medal; Army Commendation Medal (three Oak Leaf Clusters); Army Achievement Medal; Valorous Unit Award (one Oak Leaf Cluster); Meritorious Unit Citation (two Oak Leaf Clusters); Army Good Conduct Medal (three Oak Leaf Clusters); National Defense Service Medal; Afghanistan Campaign Medal (four campaign stars); Iraq Campaign Medal (two campaign stars); Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon (Numeral 3); Army Service Ribbon; Overseas Service Ribbon; Armed Forces Reserve Medal with Mobilization device; NATO Medal (one Oak Leaf Cluster); Special Forces Tab; Combat Infantryman Badge; Expert Infantryman Badge; and Parachutist’s Master Rated Military Free Fall Badges.

Goodman was born in Pasadena, California. He later grew up near Chicago, Illinois.

He joined the Army on July 2002, went through basic and advanced individual training and the Army’s Basic Airborne Course at Fort Benning, Georgia. Goodman was then assigned to the 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.

Goodman transferred to the Army National Guard in 2005, attended Special Forces Assessment and Selection and graduated as a Special Forces Engineer Sergeant in October 2007. He would later have an assignment to the 19th Special Forces Group’s 2nd Battalion. Goodman returned to active duty in 2010 and was assigned to his present unit. In 2016, he was re-assigned to the 1st Special Warfare Training Group as a senior instructor and would then be promoted to the position of chief instructor.

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