BISMARCK -- The father of a North Dakota National Guard soldier killed in Afghanistan on Thanksgiving says his son was an easygoing man who quickly made friends and had a desire to serve his country.
"He died for his country," Paul Goodiron, of Mandaree, said Friday of his son, Nathan, 25, his words choked by tears. "It's going to be a quiet Christmas here."
Cpl. Nathan Goodiron was killed when a rocket-propelled grenade hit his vehicle while he was on patrol about 5 p.m. local time Thursday, the Guard said.
"They were in a firefight, and they were hit from behind with (a grenade)," Paul Goodiron said. "(Nathan) took the full impact, and he was killed instantly."
Two other soldiers were wounded: Sgt. Claude O'Berry, of Beulah, and Spc. Samuel Floberg, of Fargo. O'Berry, who Paul Goodiron said was Nathan's cousin, was treated and released. The Guard said Floberg was in stable condition Friday night and was being taken to a hospital in Germany.
The soldiers were serving with the Guard's 188th Air Defense Artillery 1st Battalion. Guard spokesman Rob Keller said family members of all soldiers in the unit were contacted and told of the death Friday.
"It lets a family know that they can start to be concerned for that family (of the slain soldier), but it's not their loved one," he said.
The death is made even harder by the fact that it happened on a holiday, Keller said.
"It's extremely hard from every aspect," he said. "This affects all of North Dakota, especially around Thanksgiving."
Paul Goodiron, a Vietnam veteran, said he and Nathan's mother, Harriet Goodiron, were taken to a hospital Thursday night after hearing the news of their son's death. "Our blood pressures were so high," he said.
He said the support of the community Friday was "just overwhelming."
"It has nothing to do with me or Harriet," Goodiron said. "It's because of (Nathan). He was really friendly with just everybody. He just made friends with everybody."
Goodiron said his son left behind a wife, Eileen, of Minot, two stepchildren, toddler son Cooper, and a brother.
Goodiron enlisted in the National Guard in April 2001. Keller said his death is the 11th among North Dakota Army National Guard members in action against the global war on terror.
Gov. John Hoeven and first lady Mikey Hoeven issued a statement Friday night extending their sympathy to the Goodiron, Floberg and O'Berry families.
Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, the Guard commander, said in a statement that Goodiron "fought for what he believed in, and we share this loss with his family and honor his bravery in defense of freedom."
Maj. Robert Fugere, 1st Battalion commander, said in a statement that Goodiron was given military honors in Afghanistan before his remains were loaded on an airplane for the flight back to the United States.
Two other members of the 188th, Sgt. Travis Van Zoest and Cpl. Curtis Mehrer, both of Bismarck, were killed in Afghanistan in June when a roadside bomb exploded near their vehicle.
Before Friday's announcement, 14 other U.S. service members from North Dakota or serving with North Dakota military units had been killed on duty in Iraq.
Goodiron is the sixth U.S. service member from North Dakota or serving with a state unit to be killed this year.
On Monday, 39 soldiers with the 188th Air Defense Artillery 1st Battalion who have been mobilized will be heading to Fort Hood, Texas, for training. They eventually will replace 39 other Air Defense Artillery soldiers in Afghanistan.
Keller said those soldiers will be leaving with heavy hearts.
"It definitely is tough," he said.
Funeral arrangements for Goodiron were pending Friday night.