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Evansville
Saturday, August 13, 2022

Home At Last

More than three years have passed since Marine Corps veteran Erik Goodge’s squad was hit by an improvised explosive device while on patrol in Afghanistan, leaving three dead and him with a shattered eye socket and cheek bone, a fractured jaw, skull fractures, brain hemorrhaging, and the loss of his right eye. Spending 16 months in and out of the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., the Evansville native eventually returned to duty at his home base of Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, N.C., finishing out his four-year contract and then some. At the beginning of April, after turning in his Marine uniform, the 23-year-old talked with Evansville Living about his brief tour in Afghanistan, his return home, and his new hobby, fly-fishing.

EL: What do you remember about Aug. 17, 2009?
Goodge: We (his squad) were on patrol in a cornfield. We were crossing a canal and got kind of bunched up because it was dark outside. The fellow behind me, a member of the Afghan border patrol, stepped on a 60-pound pressure plate. It killed him, an interpreter, and one of my buddies who was a Marine, and wounded me and another fellow.
I couldn’t hear anything. You can imagine walking along and everything being normal and then stepping into a dream. I felt like I was in a dream. I felt the pain very briefly and after that I only remember glimpses. (He had only been in Afghanistan for three months.)

EL: You could have gotten out of the Marine Corps after you were injured. Why did you stay?
Goodge: I really enjoyed the Marine Corps; it did a lot for me and I enjoyed the camaraderie and the discipline aspects of it. My original plan was to reenlist and hopefully keep my same job, but they said that wasn’t possible. I wouldn’t get to deploy, and I didn’t like that.

EL: Now that you’re home, do you plan to stay?
Goodge: Absolutely. I love Evansville. Some people don’t like it, but then again they’ve never left it. I applied for the spring semester of 2013 at the University of Southern Indiana. I’d like to go into the criminal justice field and be a cop for the City of Evansville, although I don’t know if they’ll be able to accommodate my injuries or not.

EL: What are you doing in the meantime?
Goodge: Fly-fishing. I’m hoping to go to Montana for fly-fishing in July and the Bahamas in November. I’m in a fly-fishing documentary and even went to the (2012) Atlanta Film Festival to promote it. I didn’t start fly-fishing until I got to the hospital, with an organization called the Warriors and Quiet Waters Foundation. They take wounded veterans out on the water to take their mind off of things. They bring guys to Montana throughout the year and on my trip an independent group of filmmakers asked to make a documentary of it. It was pretty neat.

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