Chapman Honored as American Hero

1st Special Forces Group (Airborne)

Fort Lewis, Washington, 10 January 2002 

Somber service for 

First Victim of Enemy Fire


Col. David P. Fridovich 

salutes as he stands with 

Renae Chapman, 

Sgt. 1st Class Nathan Ross Chapman's widow.

 History books will record that Army Sgt. 1st Class Nathan Ross Chapman was the first U.S. service member killed by enemy fire in the U.S. war in Afghanistan. But friends, family and colleagues who gathered Thursday at a memorial service heard the highly decorated Green Beret hailed as a soldier’s soldier whose valor under fire meant “we now have a hero.”

CHAPMAN, 31, WHO volunteered for his duties in Afghanistan and also served in Panama, Haiti and the Persian Gulf War, was killed Friday in what U.S. officials called an ambush near the Afghan town of Khost. A CIA officer with him was wounded but was recovering this week.
       “How do you fix this wrong?” Col. David P. Fridovich, Chapman’s group commander, asked of the mourners who gathered Thursday under gray, rainy skies at the Special Forces Compound at Fort Lewis, the base 45 miles south of Seattle where Chapman served most of a 12½-year military career.
       “Nathan is everything in the world that is strong, meaningful and virtuous,” said Fridovich, who declared that the clearing where the service was held would be renamed Chapman Circle, “an incredibly small gesture” for a man he said had given America a hero.

Chapman’s colleagues presented flowers to his widow, Renae, and his mother, Lynn, of Georgetown, Texas, about 25 miles north of Austin. They presented teddy bears to his children, Amanda, 2, and Brandon, 1.
 The reading of Chapman’s decorations then followed, a recitation that took more than a full minute. His family was then presented with a series of posthumous decorations: The Combat Infantryman’s Badge. The Purple Heart. The Bronze Star with V device for valor.
 Chapman is to be buried Friday morning at Tahoma National Cemetery near Seattle. His name was added to the Fort Lewis memorial stone, beside that of Maj. Wallace Cole Hogan Jr., who died Sept. 11 in the terrorist attack on the Pentagon.
 Chapman was born April 23, 1970, at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. He followed his father into military service, joining the Army after graduating in 1988 from high school in Centerville, Ohio. His family said he had always been interested in the Army Rangers and was pleased when he was accepted into the program.

Chapman’s father, Wilbur Chapman, a retired Air Force officer, said this week in an interview with NBC News that “Nate became a fine young man after he’d been something of a live-wire teen-ager. ... He was just a fantastic young individual.”
Wilbur Chapman said his son was a superior service member. “The Army was a good fit for him,” he said, an assessment echoed by the sergeant’s colleagues.
Fridovich said this week at Fort Lewis: “Nate Chapman was dynamic, outgoing and a physically hard soldier. He is known by his team for his great sense of humor.”
Another colleague, Capt. Edwin D. Hoenig, said Chapman “was always the go-to person for people on other teams. He was a very charismatic person. People loved working with him, and he loved working with soldiers.” 

But Chapman also “loved parenting his children, and cherished the time he had with them and his wife,” Wilbur Chapman and his wife, Lynn, said in a statement. 

Chapman’s widow, Renae, said he was always doing something for Amanda and Brandon.
“He never sat around. He was always, always doing something, taking them for a walk, giving them a bath, playing with them in the park,” she said in a video interview released this week by the Army.
Renae Chapman said her husband went to Afghanistan with a full appreciation of the dangers that awaited him and a premonition that he might not come home alive.
“I asked him, ‘How important is it, do you want to go?’ and he said, ‘Yes, it is me, I have to go,’ ” Renae Chapman said.
He told her, “Honey, there’s a 50-50 chance I’m not coming home,” and then gave her a heart pendant that they broke so she could wear half. 

Asked why her husband joined the Special Forces, Renae Chapman said: “That’s so easy. He had seen so much of the world. ... For instance, he called me on satellite phone, and he said he sees women and children being beaten with sticks just for walking down the street ... and he wanted to fight against that.
“He gave everything he had, everywhere he was, to everyone he knew,” she said. “And he wanted to make everyone happy.”

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