Staff Sergeant Christopher Ray Goski, USMC
“First point that will be clarified is that Chris was not a victim. He was a warrior. And as warriors have done, for thousands of years, he willingly stepped forward in defense of his country. He did so to the best of his ability, firm in his beliefs, and in the knowledge that he went in defense of his family, and his home.SFC Mike Goski said as he read his twin brother’s eulogy
He always referred to the infantry -or the grunts – as our little brothers. It caused him unending anguish to think that our little brothers were still out there, fighting and dying. He felt that it was his place to there alongside of them, to provide his leadership and support.
He is at peace now, and in the company of the fallen soldiers and Marines whose deaths hurt him so deeply.”
Staff Sergeant Christopher Ray Goski, United States Marine Special Operations Command (MARSOC), was deployed six times in eleven years; four times in Iraq and once in Afghanistan.
The Goskis’ story is one of brothers at home and at arms. Chris was born first on May 1, 1981, Mike followed a few minutes later. It’s the way it would always be. The boys were fraternal twins with looks so similar it was hard to distinguish one from the other. They grew up in Red Oak, Texas, a small town just south of Dallas. Chris was the impulsive leader; Mike, the thoughtful follower.
September 11, 2001, at 9:03 am, Flight 175 crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center. It entered a few floors above the offices of Morgan Stanley Dean Witter where the twin’s cousin worked. By chance she wasn’t in the building, but no one could reach her. The South Tower collapsed at 10:03; the North Tower stood for another 23 minutes.
Chris enlisted in the United States Marine Corps on September 12th. By January 2003 he was serving in Djibouti, Africa.
“He was dedicated,” his mom said, “he was exceptionally good at what he did. He actually had found his place in life.”
Mike graduated from boot camp at Fort Benning, June 2003. Two months later, he was in Afghanistan with the Army’s 10th Mountain Division. A designated marksman.
“I was proud of them, and I was scared to death every time they were deployed because they were always on front lines,” Kathy said. “They told me not to worry. They knew what they were doing and they’d be safe. And they’d be home.”
Chris began his first combat assignment August 2004 in Iraq. It was a time of suicide bombings, sectarian violence and deadly attacks on coalition soldiers. The Marines made Chris a forward observer, coordinating air attacks from the front lines.
Chris left Iraq in February 2005. His brother Mike deployed to Sadr City that August. He survived a humvee accident and several IEDs.
Chris returned to Iraq in February 2006 as the battle of Ramadi began. Firefights were commonplace. A fellow Marine was mortally wounded trying to spot enemy snipers from a rooftop. Chris helped retrieve the dying man.
“When he came back, he started having what he thought was a heart attack and what it was were panic attacks.” his father said. “You know the war is starting to affect you after your third tour.”
Six years after the World Trade Center attack, Chris began his fourth deployment. His third in Iraq. One night, in a freak accident, static electricity from a helicopter’s blades detonated the explosives carried by a soldier. The blast blew up the man, and his remains drew feral dogs.
The commander, worried about land mines, forbade anyone from retrieving the body until dawn. Chris asked permission to shoot the feral dogs, but the officer didn’t want to alert insurgents of the Marines’ position.
Chris and two other men watched as the dogs ate their fill. In the morning, he and the others collected what was left.
On December 10, 2008, Mike’s wife, Alexis, gave birth to twin boys. They named them Mike and Chris. Chris returned to Iraq in March 2009, a few months after his own daughter was born.
Mike joined the Green Berets and was back in Iraq in July. Like his brother, Chris moved to an elite force. In August 2009, he earned a spot in the 2nd Marine Special Operations Command Battalion.
The commandos wanted Chris for his skill coordinating air and artillery attacks. While in Iraq, he excelled at his job with an uncanny ability to picture air space in three dimensions. In combat, he could orchestrate from the chaos a lethal strike by jet fighters, helicopters, mortar and artillery, raining hot metal on enemies a few hundred yards away.
In November 2010, he deployed to a small outpost in northwest Afghanistan. The fighting was intense and Chris was exhausted. He took pills to wake up and he took pills to go to sleep.
On April 24, 2011, Chris’ close friend, David Day, the team’s explosives expect, was killed trying to diffuse a bomb.
Chris retrieved Dave’s helmet and jawbone. There was nothing else left.
One of Chris’ last missions in June 2011, the Marines were caught in a day long firefight. Chris directed bombers and helicopters overhead. At one point, several Marines were pinned down by a Taliban machine-gunner. Chris called for an airstrike, but the help came too late. One Marine, Bill Woitowicz, died in the firefight. He was 23. Chris blamed himself.
Chris had served in the Marines for eleven years. His commanding officer called him a “battlefield multiplier.” He had been diagnosed with anxiety and depression. He had back, foot and neck injuries. He had been drinking and he was broke.
On June 10, 2012, Christopher Ray Goski shot himself with the gun his brother had given him as a present a few years earlier. He was 31 years old.
SFC Mike Goski said as he read his twin brother’s eulogy
“Not all combat wounds are physical. Nor do they end the casualty’s life immediately. A teammate of his told me a day or two ago that they consider him to be the final Marine killed in action from the recent combat deployment. I know he is at peace now and he will always be with us.”
Mike stared into the steel casket at his twin brother’s body, dressed for an eternity in a deep-blue Marine Corps jacket with red piping and brass buttons. Alone together for the first time, he slipped a knife into his brother’s hand, a weapon for Valhalla, the mythical refuge for fallen warriors.
At the cemetery, as “Taps” played, comrades of the Goski twins stood at attention, Marines in white hats and Special Forces in green berets. Mike, an Army Special Forces patch on his own shoulder, asked that none cry.
“Chris had only one fear that I am aware of, and it was not of death,” Mike said as he stood beside the coffin that held his twin. “He feared providing anything less than absolutely perfect close air support for his brothers. He feared failing them when they needed him the most.”
The first year after Chris’ death, Mike seemed OK. “He was still active.” his mom, Kathy said. “He would go hunting and fishing, see old friends and he stayed busy,” she explained, “but as time went, he got worse, and worse, and worse. He kept it from us.”
In October 2013, Mike left active duty. He a was in constant pain. He had neck and back injuries, a tear in his stomach and traumatic brain injury. After troubles at home, Alexis left with the twins. Mike lost his house to foreclosure and he returned to Texas to live with his parents.
Over the next two and a half years, he rarely left his room. He stacked body armor against his headboard, fearing gunshots through his bedroom wall. When Mike did venture outside, he carried a snub-nosed revolver in his belt, hidden by a shirt.
He told his civilian friends that they didn’t seem real to him anymore. That they were cartoon characters to him. He was armed and increasingly paranoid.
“It was very scary,” said Tim, “here’s a Green Beret …I mean he can do anything and he would just forget.” his father said. “We’d be talking and he’d go ‘what was I just sayin?’ he goes, ‘I’m afraid I’m going to be this way forever.’”
Mike sought an escape through a mind-addling use of Dust Off – cans of compressed air used to clear debris from computer keyboards. He would inhale blasts of the chemical vapors, which made him hallucinate.
High on fumes, Mike would imagine Chris beckoning to him and saying, “I lost you. I’ve been looking for you.” Kathy recalls Mike, “running out into the living room looking for Chris, saying ‘I got you, Chris. I got you!’”
From a chair in her living room Kathy exclaimed, “Wake up, Mike! Wake Up! Are you sleep walking? Are you having a bad nightmare?” she asked.
“’No,’ he said, ‘I found Chris. I found Chris.’”
“I think for four years he was looking for Chris. Half of him died when Chris left.” his mom said.
On July 4, 2016, Sergeant First Class Michael Jay Goski died of acute poisoning from inhaling Dust Off in his apartment in Clarksville, Tennessee. Over twelve years he served overseas six times; including five combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was 35 years old.
“Yeah I’m proud of them. They did what maybe they were here to do, I don’t know.” said Tim Goski. “How could I not be proud of them?”
They had learned in the event of his death, Mike had arranged permission to share his twin brother’s grave site in Dallas Fort Worth National Cemetery. And so he did.
On July 18, 2016, the Goskis buried Mike’s casket atop of Chris’, one brother’s name chiseled into the front of the headstone, and the other’s name chiseled into the back.
“That’s how they came into the world,” Tim said. “And that’s how they left.”
SFC Michael Jay Goski a United States Army Green Beret Special Forces veteran of twelve years, he served five tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was serving in the US National Guard at the time of his death. Preceded in death by his twin brother Staff Sergeant Christopher Ray Goski, June 10, 2012, he is survived by his parents, Timothy and Kathy Goski of Irving; twin sons, Mike and Chris of California; brother John Paul Goski of Lewisville; and grandmother Lavern Maynard of Irving.
He was awarded the Bronze Star; Iraq Campaign Medal w/3 Campaign Stars; Afghanistan Commendation Medal w/2 Campaign Stars; Parachutist Badge; Combat Infantryman Badge; Expert Infantryman Badge; Special Forces Tab; Army Commendation Medal (3rd award); Army Service Ribbon; Meritorious Unit Commendation; Air Assault Badge; Global War On Terrorism Service Medal; Overseas Service Ribbon; National Defense Service Medal; NATO Medal; NCO Professional Development Ribbon (3 awards); Army Good Conduct Medal (3rd award).
Trigger Warning: video contains war footage
Some excerpts retrieved from: https://www.wsj.com/articles/brothers-in-arms-the-tragedy-in-small-town-america-1506092151 and https://www.njrunforthefallen.org/sfc-michael-j-goski.html