MANDAREE - A North Dakota Army National Guard soldier is planning a 413-mile march across North Dakota to honor the four men from his unit who were killed in action in Afghanistan
Sgt. Steven Fraase, of Enderlin, a member of the Alpha Battery, 1/188th Air Defense Artillery SecFor is spearheading the March to Mandaree. Mandaree is the home of Cpl. Nathan Goodiron, who was killed in action Nov. 23, 2006, in Afghanistan.
The march will begin June 17 at Wahpeton at the gravesite of Cpl. Christopher Kleinwachter, of Wahpeton. Kleinwachter died Nov. 30, 2006.
Rod Erdahl/MDN •
This map of North Dakota shows the route of the March to Mandaree planned for June 17-July 3. The march will begin at Wahpeton and end at Mandaree.
It will follow a route to include a stop in Bismarck for presentations to family members of Cpl. Curtis Mehrer, Sgt. Travis Van Zoest and Kleinwachter. Mehrer and Van Zoest, both of Bismarck, died June 6, 2006.
At Mandaree, Fraase plans to make presentations to the Goodirons.
The march will end on July 3 at Goodiron's gravesite near Mandaree on the Fort Berthold Reservation.
Fraase, a French horn player with the 188th Army Band in Fargo, served in Afghanistan with the 188th for a year.
In the rows of cots at Forward Operating Base Warrior in Afghanistan, Fraase slept in the next cot over from Goodiron. "He was within an arms reach of me," Fraase said.
Fraase got the idea to march across North Dakota to Goodiron's home area as a way to honor his fellow soldier and friend and the other soldiers from the unit who did not come home.
This past Thanksgiving Fraase contacted Goodiron's parents, Paul and Harriet Goodiron of Mandaree, and asked them for permission to use Nathan's name on Fraase's Facebook page for the "March to Mandaree."
"I said that many soldiers died from North Dakota and they should be remembered, too. When he said 'yes,' we said 'yes,' " said Nathan's father Paul Goodiron.
The Goodirons had just returned from Washington, D.C., when Fraase contacted them.
Paul Goodiron, in an e-mail to family and friends about the planned march said, "Nathan's death and other soldiers' deaths impacted upon him (Fraase) heavily that he wanted to do something for them."
Initially, Fraase said only he and his family were going to do the march but others become interested so he has expanded it to include anyone who is interested. He said people can participate in the walk for any length of time they wish or if they prefer, they can support it in other ways.
From Wahpeton the march will follow a west/northwest route until reaching Highway 46, an east-west route. In the Bismarck area marchers will make some adjustments and then follow N.D. Highway 1804. From Bismarck it will follow a north/northwest route until reaching N.D. Highway 200 and then N.D. Highway 22 to Mandaree.
"The only thing I ask is if people could let me know beforehand. I would like to feed everybody and need a count," Fraase said.
Each night along the route Fraase plans to hold a campfire activity when people can socialize. Fraase said he will try to feed the people who participate in the event along the route.
Fraase is going to sell his motorcycle, a gift from his wife, Melanie, and is buying a camper to take along on the route. His wife and their four children, ages 9, 7, 4 and 2, will go ahead of the marchers and set up camp. Although the motorcycle was a gift from his wife, Fraase said, "I think this is more important than my motorcycle."
As of now, Fraase said one other person, Staff Sgt. Randy Raasch, of Hettinger, who also served with the 188th in Afghanistan, plans to march the entire route from Wahpeton to Mandaree.
The actual route is 413 miles, Fraase said. "At my stride it's 1.3 million steps," he said.
Fraase went back to school last fall, enrolling in sociology at North Dakota State University, Fargo. He's also teaching sociology to college students from ages 18 and up. On Friday, he said the class was going to talk about the March to Mandaree.
"Harriet and I both agree that this 'epic' walk across the state of North Dakota is astounding," said Paul Goodiron.
"It is comparable to an event that affects every North Dakotan for a lifetime. A soldier does something for a soldier but when soldiers and civilians come together for this journey, it is a tribute to all who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom," he said.
"We, the family, relatives, friends and well-wishers of Nathan Goodiron will await their arrival on July 3 here at Nathan's gravesite," he said.
The Goodirons plan to provide a meal for those arriving at Mandaree with the march. They are also planning a traditional giveaway event to thank those who are involved in the March to Mandaree.
Those who are interested in the March to Mandaree can learn more about it at the (fraasefamily.blog spot.com/2011/02/march-to-mandaree.html) or visit Steven Fraase's Facebook at (www.facebook.com/
people/March-To-Mandaree). For more information people can also call Fraase at 799-4501.