Father of Seven Returns to Active Duty
(June 12, 2009)
JALALABAD AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, June 9, 2009
Army Spc. Jonathan Goodwin is a lot of different things: husband,
father of seven children, jokester, and the kind of person who can
light up a room with his sense of humor. But before he was any of
these things, he became a soldier, signing up for his first
enlistment in May 1992.
The decision to serve wasn't a hard one for Goodwin. At the time, he
was an aspiring chemical engineering major, studying in his native
state at the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical University.
He had a small apartment, three roommates and a full-time job.
However, the costs of education and housing outstretched Goodwin's
meager salary, and eventually hunger began to set in.
“I looked in the refrigerator one day, and we didn't have anything
but ice and eggs. I didn't know how we were going to make it,”
Then, fate made a timely intervention. An Army recruiter was
visiting residents of Goodwin's apartment complex. When he saw the
young student sitting outside his door, he made an offer Goodwin
Army Spc. Jonathan Goodwin stands in front of the unit's offices in Jalalabad Airfield, Afghanistan, May 31, 2009.
“He said he would take me out to eat if I just listened to him
about joining the military,” Goodwin said. “Everything he said to me seemed to
One dinner later, Goodwin joined the Army's ranks as a supply specialist. The
decision to serve wasn't made on the hope of one meal; Goodwin recently had
welcomed his first child, and he knew the military could help to provide
stability for his new family.
“I knew it was going to be a struggle to work, go to school and raise my child,”
Goodwin said. “It made sense to help my family.”
As the years passed, Goodwin's family grew, and with time was able to sustain
itself without his military paycheck. Goodwin ended his first tenure with the
Army to return to life as a private citizen.
However, six children and 13 years after being sworn in, fate found Goodwin
again, calling him back to duty a second time.
“My brother, a Marine colonel, died in Iraq in 2005,” Goodwin said. “That was my
main motivation for ending my break in service and returning to the Army.”
That same year, Goodwin served his first deployment in the same country where
his brother died. In Afghanistan now on his second combat tour, Goodwin has a
large responsibility. As the supply specialist for his battalion, Goodwin is in
charge of maintaining accountability for a large amount of crucial and sensitive
With seven children and a wife back home, Goodwin has much to account for, both
on and off the battlefield.
“I have a large family,” he said.
With seven children between the ages of 6 and 15, the Goodwins are more than
double the size of most families.
“They love me and I love them,” Goodwin said. “I'm the king of my castle, and
everyone loves the king.”
Spending a second year away from his wife and children would seem difficult, he
said, but his family makes for a very large, encouraging support group.
“The kids are all very proud to have a dad in the Army,” Goodwin said. “They're
proud of me, and I'm proud of them. I'm really happy with the way they handle
things back at home while I'm gone.”
All seven of Goodwin's children made their schools' honor rolls this year. Their
efforts in the classroom seem to inspire Goodwin to return to his schooling as
“I still really want to get that degree,” he said.
Article and photo by Army Pfc. Charles Wolfe
1st Infantry Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team public affairs office
Special to American Forces Press Service
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