Master Sgt. Nathan Goodman died during freefall training near Eloy, Arizona, a common location for advanced parachute training. Service officials have not disclosed the manner in which Goodman died, and the incident is currently under investigation, said Army Special Operations Command spokesman Lt. Col. Loren Bymer.
Goodman, who lived in Hope Mills and worked at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, had deployed eight times during his nearly two-decade military career. He completed four deployments to Afghanistan, one to Iraq, two to Africa and one to Kyrgyzstan, according to the service history provided by Bymer.
Goodman was an experienced parachutist and a graduate of basic, jumpmaster and advanced tactical infiltration military freefall courses.
“Nathan was a beloved member of 3rd Special Forces Group and an exceptional leader in the special operations community,” said Col. Nathan Prussian, 3rd Group commander, in a prepared 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."
Goodman was born in Pasadena, California and grew up near Chicago, Illinois. He joined the Army in July 2002, completing basic training, advanced individual training and static-line parachute school at Fort Benning, Georgia, before reporting to 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.
In 2005, he joined the Army National Guard and began training to become a Green Beret. He graduated from the Special Forces Qualification Course in October 2007. Goodman was then assigned to 2nd Battalion, 19th Special Forces Group, a Guard unit with detachments in multiple states.
Goodman returned to active duty and joined 3rd Group in 2010. In 2016, he became a senior instructor and later a chief instructor at 1st Special Warfare Training Group at Fort Bragg. He rejoined 3rd Group’s 2nd Battalion in July 2018 and made master sergeant exactly one year later.
Goodman was a graduate of a wide range of schools, which include advanced reconnaissance and target analysis training, an advanced urban combat course and a course to operate small unmanned aerial drones.
Over his career, the deceased Green Beret was awarded two Bronze Star Medals, three Army Commendation Medals, the Special Forces Tab, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Expert Infantryman Badge and the Parachutist’s Master Rated Military Freefall Badge.
Eloy is a three-hour drive east of the basic freefall course run by the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School out of Yuma Proving Grounds. Eloy Municipal Airport provides a launching pad for jumps and the weather there is known to be particularly agreeable during much of the year for civilian skydivers.
Private companies like Airborne Systems run training courses from the area, which hosts one of the world’s largest civilian drop-zones. Jumpers often train there to gain proficiency in a variety of parachute missions, to include high altitude openings, navigating under canopy to an objective and following robotic aerial delivery systems to the ground.
Kyle Rempfer is an editor and reporter whose investigations have covered combat operations, criminal cases, foreign military assistance and training accidents. Before entering journalism, Kyle served in U.S. Air Force Special Tactics and deployed in 2014 to Paktika Province, Afghanistan, and Baghdad, Iraq.