U.S. Military Mourns Soldier, Kin
WUERZBURG, Germany (AP) _ Fellow soldiers, military spouses and classmates filled a small base chapel Monday to remember Maj. Michael C. Goodridge, his wife Jennifer and their two young boys, who died on a ski outing when fire swept through a cable car tunnel in the Austrian Alps.
The Goodridges were involved in every aspect of base life in the tight-knit military community of 17,000 surrounding the Bavarian city of Wuerzburg, and their loss was widely felt and mourned.
Fatigue-clad soldiers from Goodridge’s battalion in nearby Kitzingen filled half of the small chapel and passed tissues among themselves during the ceremony. Military couples sat solemnly on the other side, some with school-age children grasping crinkled tissues.
``When you remember the Goodridge family, remember Jen’s deep laugh, remember Mike’s quiet way, remember Mikey’s high-pitched giggle and Kyle’s desire to be 6 when he was only 5,″ Maj. Anthony English told more than 500 mourners who crowded the chapel or watched via video from a nearby barracks.
Memorial ceremonies were being held separately at respective bases for four more Americans who died in the Nov. 11 fire, including newly engaged 2nd Lt. Carrie Baker of Florida and her fiance 1st Lt. Erich R. Kern of Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., both serving with the U.S. Army. The fire killed a total of 155 people.
The U.S. Air Force community stationed around the Ramstein Air Base mourned the loss of Paul A. Filkil, 46, and his son Ben, 15, of Deerfield, Mich. Filkil’s wife, Karen Kearney Filkil, is a civilian who works for the Air Force’s Warrior Preparation Center in Germany
Michael Goodridge, 36, and his wife Jennifer, 35, were married in 1986, the year Goodridge graduated from West Point. Both had grown up in the military and had a feel for how to make military life work for a family. ``They were always bringing people together, whether it was a skiing trip, a wine tasting, a sporting event or a cookout,″ said English, who shared command with Goodridge of the 4th Battalion 3rd Air Defense Artillery.
When he wasn’t away on a mission, Goodridge faithfully cheered his sons from the sidelines during soccer or T-ball, English said.
``Mikey and Kyle were good boys,″ said Lt. Col. Fred Johns. ``I don’t know if Mikey and Kyle would have grown up to be doctors, or astronauts or soldiers, like their father. But I do believe they would have been special, because their parents were.″
Goodridge was eulogized as a dedicated solider, a leader and a mentor who knew how to bring out the best in his soldiers. He also set an example, Johns said, winning the Soldier’s Medal for saving two German civilians from a burning van as a large crowd stood by.
``This man was a hero. Not the Hollywood version of the hero who’s loud and steals the scene. Mike was a true hero, quiet, unassuming, professional and more concerned with the needs of those around him than his own. He made things happen,″ Johns said.
A final roll call illustrated Goodridge’s absence. Three times 1st Sgt. John Mattie called for Maj. Michael Goodridge, and three times he was answered with silence, broken by sobs of mourners.
His battalion saluted Goodridge one final time, pausing at a formation of his boots, helmet and rifle. Red-eyed mourners grabbed a tissue from a soldier as they filed out.