|Nathan Ross Chapman|
SFC Nathan Ross Chapman
KIA Friday 4 January 2002 in Afghanistan, in the Gardez area west of Khost
ODA 194, 3rd Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne)
Based at Fort Lewis, Washington
Age 31 from Puyallup, Washington
KIA by small-arms fire in the Gardez area west of Khost.**
Nathan served most of his 12-year military career at Fort Lewis, where flags flew at half-staff yesterday. He was a member of 1st Special Forces Group until he volunteered to serve in Afghanistan at the outbreak of the war on terrorism. Inside the group's gated compound, Nathan Chapman's name will be added to a memorial stone, behind that of Maj. Wallace Cole Hogan Jr., who died in the Sept. 11 attack on the Pentagon.
"He was a very charismatic person," Capt. Edwin Hoenig said of Nathan. "People loved working with him, and he loved working with soldiers."
Nathan, a brawny Texas native with a warm smile, was "strong as an ox," Hoenig said.
At 16, Chapman wanted to buy a dirt-bike motorcycle from a neighbor. After his parents refused, his father made a casual remark that the dirt bike didn't work anyway.
"I think I left him with the impression that if the bike worked, he would have a chance to buy it," Will Chapman recalled. "So I walked into his room, and in the middle of the floor was a hunk of 1/2-inch plywood and the engine of the dirt bike, oil and all. And he was working on it. His room smelled like a garage."
Hoenig said Chapman's primary duty as a communications specialist was working with long-range equipment for his Green Beret team. He also was trained in weapons and taught courses in sniper fire.
Born on Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland while his father was stationed there, Nathan Chapman grew up all over the United States, including Federal Way; Montgomery, Ala.; Las Vegas; and Centerville, Ohio, near Dayton, Nathan wrestled at Centerville High School, before graduating and joining the Army in 1988.. After retiring from the Air Force, Will Chapman worked as a regional manager for Electronic Data Systems, which moved the family frequently. (Chapman had his home of record listed as San Antonia, Texas, but had never lived there. His Grandparents were from Texas.)
"You could tell he loved what he was doing because it fit his personality," his father said. "He had a keen sense of duty, and he wanted to serve. And he picked this way to do it.
**Military officials said Chapman and the CIA officer were ambushed as they left a meeting with tribal leaders in Afghanistan's Paktia province, near where U.S. warplanes had struck several al-Qaida and Taliban targets recently.
The firefight took place about 4 p.m. Friday (6:30 a.m. ET) north of where U.S. warplanes struck an al-Qaida compound Thursday and again Friday
He was part of a U.S. team operating near the town of Khost, a few miles from the Pakistan border.
The Green Berets, in some cases working with CIA officers, have been combing the region on intelligence missions with Afghan fighters. They have been searching caves and bunkers, gathering weapons and interrogating captured Taliban and al-Qaida fighters.
"This American serviceman was doing his job," said Gen. Tommy Franks, commander of U.S. Central Command. "He was out for the purpose of working with and coordinating with tribal leaders in that area."
Information from 1st and 5th SF Group Members, SF List, SFA and AP Wire used in this Article