FT. BRAGG STORIES: 'I Looked Into That Soldier's Eyes'

May 27, 2018

David Goforth training at Fort Bragg in 1980.
Credit David Goforth

As a young man, David Goforth served in the National Guard throughout the 1980s. He enjoyed weekends practicing drills at Fort Bragg until he came upon a training accident that gave him pause. 

One Sunday after an exercise, the convoy Goforth was traveling in came to an abrupt halt.

"There was a young man laying there with three medics working on him. I was very close to him. I could see the guy very clearly," Goforth recalled.

The injured soldier had tipped over an armored personnel carrier during his very first drill. 

"When [the medic] went back down to give him another breath, I looked into that soldier's eyes and I could see there was nothing there," he said. 

Witnessing the death of a fellow soldier weighed on Goforth.

"I was young at the time and didn't think death would bother me that much, but I had a nightmare later that week," he said. 

"You had to have a little bit of acceptance that things were not safe when you were cold, wet, tired, dirty and hungry, and you had a vehicle that weighed tons. Our main battle vehicle weighed 63 tons and it didn't care if you were there or not."

Each year Goforth remembers that soldier and four other unit members who died in accidents during the dozen years he served in the National Guard.

"He's one of the guys I think about every Memorial Day and every Veteran's Day. I think about that soldier that gave his life there in that training accident." 

Ft. Bragg Stories is a collaboration between the Fayetteville Observer and WUNC's American Homefront Project to commemorate a century of history at Fort Bragg through personal narratives. You can hear other stories in the series here. If you'd like to share your Fort Bragg story, you can send it here, or email fortbraggstories@wunc.org