By Staff Sgt. Robert Cloys
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
Friends, family, co-workers, mentors and classmates of 1st Lt. Nicholas Goirigolzarri, 50th Operations Group Standardization and Evaluation Division, came together to celebrate his life Dec. 14 at the U.S. Air Force Academy Cadet Catholic Chapel.
Goirigolzarri, who also spent several years assigned to the 4th Space Operations Squadron here, died of medical complications Nov. 29 at Penrose Main Saint Francis Hospital in Colorado Springs, Colo.
The memorial service was organized by the 50th Space Wing Chaplain office and hosted by the 10th Air Base Wing. During the commemoration, many spoke of moments they spent with G13, as he was commonly called, and the impact he made not only in their lives, but the lives of others.
Capt. Kenneth Grosselin, 50 OGV branch chief of evaluations, was one of the first to share his fondest memories of Goirigolzarri.
“Even though there are a lot of people in the church today, I can assure you they only represent a small sample of the many relationships Nick cultivated since he entered the Air Force Academy,” said Grosselin. “[Goirigolzarri] could find optimism or some opportunity in the gloomiest of situations and that’s our challenge right now. Even though his physical presence is no longer with us his legacy will have a lasting impact on all the relationships he forged in the short time he was given.”
Goirigolzarri’s former AF Academy rugby coach, friend and mentor, Len Packer, echoed that legacy.
“Nick lived his life with strength and honor. There was no doubt about that,” he said. “Everyone that has talked about Nick, that’s what they talked about and I believe he passed the same way.”
Packer said that even though Goirigolzarri died at a mere 25 years of age, he touched many lives and the amount of people who came together in his illness and during his memorials served as testament to the positive influence and energy he radiated.
“We are not here to grieve his death,” said Packer “but to celebrate his life.”
Lt. Col. Matthew Bertsch, 50 OGV commander, concluded the ceremony with words of his own and posthumously awarded Goirigolzarri with the Air Force Commendation Medal.
“Nick touched many in his career and left an indelible mark on the 50th Space Wing,” said Bertsch. “Even as a young lieutenant, Nick’s talents were recognized by many. There’s no question; he left the Air Force and all of us better than how he found us and for that we are all grateful. He inspired us to evaluate how we live each day. If only we all put as much effort into friendships and family as he did.”