Army Cpl. Nathan J. Goodiron, 25, of Mandaree, N.D.
Cpl. Goodiron was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 188th Air Defense Artillery, North Dakota National Guard, Grand Forks, N.D.; died Nov. 23 of injuries sustained when his unit came in contact with enemy forces using small arms fire and rocket propelled grenades in Qarabagh, Afghanistan.
With drums, prayers, fallen soldier is honored
By JAMES MacPHERSON
Associated Press Writer
NEW TOWN - Hundreds packed an auditorium to honor a fallen warrior, joining in prayers in Nathan Goodiron's native Hidatsa language and smiling through tears at pictures of his high school basketball games and his time with his newborn son.
"He was proud to be an American soldier, an American Indian soldier. He knew the meaning of the word sacrifice," said Marcus Wells Jr., the chairman of the Three Affiliated Tribes. "He was a good son, a good husband and a proud father."
Goodiron, 25, of Mandaree, known on the Fort Berthold reservation as Young Eagle, was killed Thanksgiving Day in Afghanistan when a grenade struck his vehicle while he was on patrol. He was a corporal in the 1st Battalion of the North Dakota National Guard's 188th Air Defense Artillery.
Tribal officials said he was the first member of the Three Affiliated Tribes to be killed in the war on terror. The tribal memorial service was held Wednesday in the auditorium of the Four Bears Casino and Lodge west of New Town.
Friends and family members talked of Goodiron's love of sports and service to his country. A huge screen showed highlights of his life, as a member of Mandaree's 1999 state tournament basketball team, a soldier training for military duty and a father holding his newborn son.
The service featured drum songs and Hidatsa prayers. The Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara make up the Three Affiliated Tribes.
Among those attending were about 50 American Indian veterans.
Goodiron's father, Paul, asked people to remember the soldiers still on duty.
"For every one of them still there, putting their lives in harm's way, I wish I could shake their hands," he said.
Nathan Hale, of Mandaree, a Tribal Council member, remembered how Nathan Goodiron volunteered to dress up as Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny to entertain children.
"He was a funny, enjoyable person to be around," Hale said.
"He chose to defend his country. He gave his life for what he believed in," Hale said.
Tribal officials said Goodiron, who joined the Guard in 2001, enjoyed working with computers, and developed a PowePoint program about the tribal constitution. He attended classes at Minot State University.
The commander of the North Dakota National Guard, Maj. Gen. Dave Sprynczynatyk, said Goodiron was a true hero who "made the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of all of us."
Harvey Peterson, of Beach, the commander-elect of the American Legion of North Dakota, called Goodiron "truly a noble servant to his nation and to his fellow man."
Survivors include his wife, his son, two stepchildren, his parents and his brother.
Army Cpl. Nathan J. Goodiron was killed in action on 11/23/06.