WESTWOOD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Family, friends, and community members in Bergen County were mourning Sgt. 1st Class Michael Goble on Tuesday.
He will return home for a final time next week. Goble died Monday from injuries sustained in action in Afghanistan, CBS2’s Christina Fan reported.
Goble dedicated his life to service, his chest full of the numerous ribbons and medals he was awarded while serving overseas. The 33-year-old grew up in Westwood, graduating from Westwood Regional High School in 2004. He entered the Army as a Special Forces candidate that same year and earned the coveted Green Beret in 2007.
Flags flew at half staff Tuesday to honor Goble. You didn’t have to know him to see how much he loved his country.
“I read everything from start to finish. I was amazed. I couldn’t even comprehend that many things to do in a 33-year-old life, amazing,” Westwood resident Isabel Gates said.
Hearts were heavy all over the northern New Jersey town.
“We are very proud of his service. We are very proud of what he’s done. This was his fourth tour of duty in Special Forces. Just a remarkable individual,” Westwood Mayor John Birkner Jr. said.
“I saw it on Facebook and I re-posted it right away because I wanted people in town to know that one of ours died,” resident Bobbie Cozic said.
Gov. Phil Murphy and Acting Gov. Sheila Oliver issued a joint statement on Goble’s death that read: “Sergeant 1st Class Michael Goble represented the best values of our Armed Forces and of New Jersey — dedication, fearlessness, and excellence. His tragic passing reminds us of the tremendous sacrifices our soldiers and our military families make in the name of service so that our nation’s values may continue to be a beacon around the world.
“Our thoughts are with Sergeant 1st Class Goble’s family and friends. May we all honor his service by endeavoring through our lives to represent the values for which he gave his life.”
Goble was deployed several times overseas as a Special Forces soldier. He also served in Argentina, Guatemala, and Colombia. He died in the Kunduz province of Afghanistan after suffering fatal injuries. The Pentagon has not confirmed any other details, but the Taliban claimed they were behind a fatal roadside bombing.
Goble is the second service member from Westwood who has died recently. In 2010, Sgt. Christopher Hrbek was also killed in Afghanistan by an improvised explosive device. On Tuesday, strangers reflected on the sacrifices of both men.
“I always think of my father’s generation. They say that generation was amazing, but I think that lives on, I really do, in the spirits of a lot of young men and women,” Gates said.
“It just touches home. It’s hard to understand. Sometimes we wonder why we hear about these things on the news all the time, but when it’s your own it really hurts. It really hurts,” Birkner said.
A GoFundMe page for Goble’s family has already raised more than $55,000. He was just about to celebrate his birthday in January.
The mayor said he is planning to meet with the town’s police chief to see if they can coordinate any type of escort to help the family as they bring their loved one back home.
Friends and family requested privacy Tuesday, but told CBS2 that Goble was an amazing man who was passionate and patriotic. He leaves behind his girlfriend and a young daughter.