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.** 

 

Remembered for Laughter, Dedication

Fort Lewis, Washington — 

Nathan R. Chapman would have been just the man his unit needed on a day like this, as its members mourned the loss of a close friend.

"He always seemed to know what to say," said Lt. Col. Roger Griffin, Chapman's former battalion commander. 

"No matter how bad the circumstances, he could always pop up with a joke to lighten the situation."

 

Friends of Nathan's

 gathered at Fort Lewis 

to recall a Serious Soldier

 and Family Man whose 

wit was sharpest when

 things were bad.

"He always made you

 laugh," said 

SFC William Pence, 

who came up through 

the ranks with 

Nathan in a Rangers

 Battalion and then as

 Green Berets.

 

1st Special Forces Group 
Sgt. First Class William Pence 
talks about his friend Nate, as 
1st Special Forces Group Commander, 
Col. David Fridovich, wipes away a tear.

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.

 

Nathan was always adventuresome, his father,  Will Chapman said, the younger of his two sons loved the outdoors, athletics and competition. 

"You might say he had a penchant, even when he was young, to live on the edge," his father said. 

"He just was a kid who could do things without regard to life or limb."

And he was headstrong.

HARRY CABLUCK / AP

Will and Lynn Chapman of Georgetown, Texas, hold a photo of son Nathan in uniform.

 

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."

 

 

Nathan with his wife

Renae Chapman

and two children

Amanda Chapman 2 

and 

Brandon Chapman 1

They live in 

Puyallup, Washington

Family Photo Nov 2001

SFC Nathan Chapman's Children's Memorial Fund

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.)

 

After joining the military at 18, 

 

Nathan Chapman rarely talked about 

 

his deployments, which included 

 

assignments in Japan, Panama, 

 

Haiti and The Gulf. 

 

He met his future wife while stationed 

 

at Fort Lewis. Will Chapman said his

 

 son  would have considered Defending 

 

his Country  just Part of the Job, 

 

a Job he Loved.

"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


Sgt. 1st Class Nathan Ross Chapman, 31,  served most of his 12 1 / 2 year career at Fort Lewis, Wash. But since the war on terrorism, he had been assigned to the 5th Special Forces Group at Fort Campbell, Ky.


Chapman, a Communications Sergeant, was killed Friday by small-arms fire during an ambush. 

He was part of a U.S. team operating near the town of Khost, a few miles from the Pakistan border.


A CIA officer suffered a serious chest wound in the fighting, though his injuries weren’t considered life-threatening. Both were removed from the area by a U.S. military rescue team, officials said.

 

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.


Chapman and the CIA officer were working with Afghan leaders near the town of Khost, not far from the Pakistan border, to gain information on the whereabouts of al-Qaida members.


Shortly after leaving a meeting with the Afghans, the Americans were Ambushed by small-arms fire, including light-machine-gun and rifle fire, a senior defense official said. “It was fast, and it was intense,” the official said. 

 

"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."

The Army's Special Forces have been advising, arming, training and coordinating with local Afghan forces since the military campaign began Oct. 7, Franks said.


Kolb said one of Chapman's jobs "was to make sure that communication links are active and operational." But as a Green Beret, Kolb said, "he is adept at anything else."

On Saturday morning, 05 January 2002, fellow special forces soldiers at Fort Lewis, Wash., where Chapman had been stationed, remembered him as an outgoing fighter who sought physical and mental challenges.

“He embodied the warrior spirit,” said Col. David Fridovich, 1st Special Forces Group Commander, “but with a huge and soft heart for his family, his unit, his organization, and our country.”

According to Capt. Edwin Hoenig, Chapman was “physically as strong as an ox — always the go-to person. He was very charismatic. It was always fun when Nate was around.”

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Information from 1st and 5th SF Group Members, SF List, SFA and AP Wire used in this Article