Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Army 1st Lt. Christopher S. Goeke

Remember Our Heroes

Army 1st Lt. Christopher S. Goeke, 23, of Apple Valley, Minn.

1st Lt Goeke was assigned to 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.; died July 13, 2010 in Kandahar City, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked his unit with rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire. Also killed were Staff Sgt. Christopher T. Stout and Staff Sgt. Sheldon L. Tate.

As word spread quickly throughout Apple Valley concerning the loss of a local soldier in Afghanistan, the sparse summer staff inside the local high school felt the sudden shock and sorrow.

1st Lieutenant Christopher S. Goeke was a 2004 Apple Valley High School graduate.

School administrator Joe Wycoff remembers him well, saying, "This one really hit close to home." Wycoff counseled Goeke when the senior independently entered an American Legion oratorical contest on the meaning of patriotism. Goeke's presentation was so inspiring that he placed third, despite not being enrolled in the speech class.

Friday there was a military tribute inside the school to those who, like Goeke, have walked its halls as students and later worn U.S. military uniforms.

While the 1st Lieutenant's photograph is absent from the display, his name resonates loudly six years later. "You could tell in 2004 when he graduated that year that this was a kid who exhibited a type of not only excellence in the classroom, but also a form of quiet civility that people were really drawn to," added Wycoff.

After Goeke graduated high school he immediately entered the U.S. Army Academy at West Point. In 2008, Goeke finished 6th in his class and was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division based in Fort Bragg, N.C.

According to friends he married his wife, Kelsey, just 18 months ago. Goeke then was assigned to Afghanistan as a member of the 4th Brigade Combat Team of the 82nd Airborne.

According to the military, he was killed Tuesday while responding to an attack on an Afghanistan National Army facility in Kandahar City.

Peter Buesgens first had Goeke as a student in the sixth grade. "When I got the call two nights ago, the first thing that came to mind was, 'We lost a great one,'" he said.

Buesgens says he remembers Goeke as a young man who was constantly challenging himself with his academics, arts and athletics.

Goeke's long-time teacher added that it was such a pleasure "to watch him grow as a kid who knew from a young age that he really wanted to be a part of something bigger." That "something bigger" became a noble career and one Goeke delivered with unbridled patriotism.

"We're a little less great as a nation without Chris in it," said Buesgens.

"He passionately participated in mission work, Sunday school teaching, bible study, jazz band, mock trial, Team Ramrod frisbee and football intramurals. He was a beloved leader among his peers and always brought smiles, laughter and wisdom beyond his years," his family said in a statement.

Goeke completed Airborne School, Infantry Officer Basic Course and the Ranger Course at Fort Benning, Ga. He was assigned to Fort Bragg, where he joined Company C, 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment on May 18, 2009. In September 2009, Goeke deployed with the unit to Afghanistan.

“Chris Goeke was one of the finest officers I have had the honor of leading in 20 years of service. His bravery in combat, commitment to his paratroopers, out-of-the-box problem solving and love for his wife and his profession were unparalleled,” said Lt. Col. David Oclander, battalion commander of 1-508 PIR.

“Chris was respected by his men as a leader and a person. Chris left a legacy with the battalion and on the lives of the men he led. Chris died a hero.”

Goeke’s awards and decorations include the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Campaign Star, Global War on Terror Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, NATO Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge, Parachute Badge and Ranger Tab.

Goeke is survived by his wife Kelsey, his father Randal Goeke and his mother Pamela Shultz.

Army 1st Lt. Christopher S. Goeke was killed in action on 7/13/10.

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