One of the biggest turning points for me during my deployment in 2010, was the death of Army 1st Lieutenant Chris Goeke. He was one of the top cadets in my class at West Point, and one of my first friends at the academy.I was just lucky to have him as a roommate during basic training. At the time I was pretty religious, and Chris was a positive, supportive, and inspiring presence as I held onto faith to get through the hard moments.
Chris, along with 2 of his troops, died exactly 10 years ago; 13 July 2010, when insurgents attacked his unit in Kandahar City, Afghanistan. I was in another part of the country (Bagram Air Field) as were several of our other classmates. The day I found out, the war became more personal for me.
He was just a month or two away from heading home. He got married less than 2 years prior.
I wanted it all to mean something. But the rest of my time over there just confirmed the rising suspicions I had about the war. Today, 10 years later, the war continues, and none of us have any idea what actual victory would look like.
So it is painful for me, trying to honor how great of a leader and person Chris was, when I feel that we should never have sacrificed someone so great for such questionable purposes. Chris could have, would have, accomplished so much in the past decade. He was good at so many things, it is truly a shame.
Chris is one of the biggest reasons I became skeptical and critical towards our current forever war. Wearing my tribute bracelet to Chris, I’ve become so much more active and focused on trying to make a difference in this country. It’s frustrating to see so little progress, but I’m trying.
Trying to get people to care about what it means to be an American; to have incredible privilege with respect to the rest of the world. Trying to get people to see themselves as a part of something bigger; to acknowledge that we’re all trying to survive together.
Chris could probably do it much better than I could; and I try to remember that regularly and keep going.
Be thou at peace.
KIA July 13, 2010: 1LT Chris Goeke, SSG Christopher T. Stout, SSG Sheldon L. Tate.
Support the Warrior 196. Leadership Foundation in honor of Chris: https://www.warrior196.org/
Purchase a Chris Goeke bracelet here: http://www.steel-hearts.org/usma-2008/christopher-goeke-bracelet
Watch an awesome 10 year tribute from other classmates here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=30NM4l9fu5k