CLARKS GROVE, Minn. (WCCO) — Osama Bin Laden’s death is not only justice for the victims of the 9/11 attacks, but for military families across the United States. So far, 19 Minnesota military members have died while serving in Afghanistan.
“It’s hard. You never get over losing a child,” said Don Goodnature, of Clarks Grove, whose son was the first Minnesota soldier killed in Afghanistan.
Army Chief Warrant Officer Corey Goodnature, a Chinook helicopter pilot, was killed on June 28, 2005 while on a mission in Eastern Afghanistan. His unit was looking for bin Laden and other high-ranking Al Qaeda officials.
“At the time in 2005, that’s where they thought he was,” said Goodnature.
When Goodnature heard that military forces had killed bin Laden, he couldn’t help but think of his son.
“Mixed emotions, satisfaction,” said Goodnature. “He’d be happy. He probably would have been involved.”
When details came out about the mission, Don wondered if Corey’s unit, the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regimen, played a role.
“It took place at night. They didn’t walk in and couldn’t drive there, had to be flown in with a helicopter. When something like that happens, usually the 160th is involved,” said Goodnature.
In fact, according to various publications, the 160th did play a role in bin Laden’s death.
Inside Goodnature’s home, there are pictures and Corey’s military honors — reminders of the price his family paid for the war in Afghanistan.
“He was a career soldier,” said Goodnature of his son, who would have turned 41 years old in February.
For nearly 10 years, U.S. military members have put their lives at risk. In a letter written before his death, Corey let his friends and family know why he wanted to be in Afghanistan.
“I do this for all those who were taken from us two years ago on September 11th, 2001. I do it for everyone back at home,” said Goodnature, while reading Corey’s letter.
The day Corey was killed was a day that forever changed his family, but May 1 will also be a day that his family, along with the nation, will never forget.
“It put a little bit more meaning to what he did,” said Goodnature.
Corey’s son, Shea, followed in his father’s footsteps and served a year in Afghanistan. His tour of duty ended a few weeks ago.