As a teenager, Brandon Goodine's life appeared to have little direction, but that changed when his daughter was born.
"He became a father at a young age, and with the economy the way it was, there was not much out there," said his aunt, Denise Goodine Hock. "He knew he needed to do something for his daughter.”
More than that, Hock said, Brandon Goodine wanted to make a difference.
Goodine completed high school and joined the U.S. Army a little more than a year ago. He excelled, becoming a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division and shipping out to Afghanistan last October for a year-long tour of duty.
Goodine, 20 of McDonough, died Thursday while on patrol in Maiwand, Afghanistan, following the detonation of an improvised explosive device.
“Brandon was not only my son, he was my friend and my hero," his mother, Mandy Watson, said.
Among others, he leaves behind his 3-year-old daughter, Katie Goodine, who Hock said gave Goodine's life new meaning.
Military service is a tradition in the family, Hock said. Goodine's older brother serves in the Army and his cousin, Hock's son, is in the Air Force. Hock said her son related a conversation he had with Goodine about why he joined.
“He said, ‘I know what is involved. I know what it is going to cost, but I’m doing this for my daughter. From this day forward, everything is for my daughter,'” she said.
Family members, including his wife of less than a year, Nicole Goodine, were in Delaware on Saturday awaiting the return of his remains.
Hock said Goodine was shy but had a good sense of humor. He has a positive attitude most of the time, but she said he could be hard on himself.
On Memorial Day, Goodine posted on his Facebook page that he was tired "of being reminded of all the wrong I do." Hock jumped in with encouragement.
“He was told by numerous people that he was a nobody. That was one of the reasons he joined the military. He wanted to be somebody,” she said. "I saw his posting and thought,'I can’t let him think this. He’s over there. He doesn’t need to be doubting himself.' There was so much more I wanted to say.”
Following his death, Goodine's fellow soldiers, friends and even strangers began posting their tributes to him. Hock said the response the family has received on Facebook has been unexpected but is testament to his sacrifice.
“The American people want to know their heroes. The condolences , prayers and thoughts sent our way – the only word is overwhelming," she said. “All of us were raised here in Georgia. The majority of people who are posting are from all over the United States, and even England and Australia.”
Goodine is a graduate of Greenville High School and attended Henry County High School. Funeral arrangements are pending.
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