Golf classic honors Albert Lea soldier

Published 3:09 pm Saturday, June 27, 2015

Chris Burkhart tees off Saturday at Green Lea Golf Course during the Corey Goodnature Memorial Golf Classic. - Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

Chris Burkhart tees off Saturday at Green Lea Golf Course during the Corey Goodnature Memorial Golf Classic. – Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

Gone but never forgotten.

That was the main sentiment expressed Saturday at the ninth annual Corey Goodnature Memorial Golf Classic at Green Lea Golf Course in Albert Lea.

Goodnature, a Clarks Grove native, was a pilot for the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment of the U.S. Army who was killed in action in Afghanistan on June 28, 2005. He was one of 16 killed when his company’s MH-47 Chinook helicopter was shot down while attempting to rescue missing U.S. Navy SEALs.

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Corey Goodnature’s mother, Deb Goodnature, said that soon after her son’s death, area farmer and family friend Gary Pestorious came up with the idea to start the memorial golf classic to honor the soldier and to raise money for local students with scholarships. Corey Goodnature’s father, Don Goodnature, said that applicants are selected based on their responses on what patriotism means to them.

The 2015 scholarship recipients were Albert Lea graduates Devin Nelson, Brady Loch, Carissa Dee Fitzlaff, Beau Johnsrud, Anna Englin and Angela Schmitt; Alden-Conger graduates Cassandra Gilster, Alyssa Pollard Jorgenson and Toni Chicos; and Glenville-Emmons graduate McKenna Cech.

Deb Goodnature said that the progressive growth and impact of the event from year to year has astounded her.

“It’s just absolutely amazing that people continue to want to honor and support this,” she said. “It’s just as important to them.”

She also talked about how she attributed growing up in the Albert Lea area to part of the reason her son became the man everyone gathered to remember and celebrate.

“It’s not just parents that raise great kids,” she said. “It’s a village. … It took everyone. Corey loved home.”

Along with golf, Saturday’s event also included live and silent auctions and a pork chop dinner, among others. All proceeds from the event go to the Corey Goodnature Memorial Scholarship Fund.

To start the day off, members of the Albert Lea American Legion and the Albert Lea VFW escorted the colors onto the golf course, before a number of Corey Goodnature’s family members and friends spoke.

Larry Goodnature — Corey Goodnature’s uncle and the wrestling coach for Albert Lea High School — talked about his nephew’s lasting legacy in local sports, and how the wrestling team makes sure to honor local veterans whenever possible.

Deb and Don Goodnature talked about how proud they were of their son, and how the golf classic was just one of many lasting examples of how Corey Goodnature would never be forgotten.

A number of current and retired members of the military and their families who were friends with and served with Corey Goodnature were also in attendance. Among them was Roger Martin, who was a Chinook pilot in Unit B3160 of the U.S. Army with Corey Goodnature. Martin spoke of how his friend was one of the most loyal he would ever know, and how he exemplified the 160th’s motto, “Night Stalkers Don’t Quit.”

“Goodnatures don’t quit,” said Martin.

About Colleen Harrison

Colleen Harrison is the photo editor at the Albert Lea Tribune. She does photography and writes general-assignment stories.

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