KIA January 4, 2002
Operation Enduring Freedom
Assigned to 3rd Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne), Fort Lewis, Washington
Army SFC Nathan Chapman died January 4, 2002 in Khost, Afghanistan. According to military officials, SFC Chapman and a CIA agent, who was also wounded in the attack, had met local tribe leaders in Paktia province, near where U.S. warplanes had struck several Al Qaida and Taliban targets in the preceding weeks. After they left the meeting, the Americans were ambushed and SFC Chapman was killed by small arms fire while directing troop movements from the back of a flatbed truck. Less than three months after the war initially began, SFC Chapman was the first American soldier to be killed in combat in Afghanistan and was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star.
That fateful January night, a local storekeeper, Izatullah Abdul Mutmain, was taking a walk when he witnessed the tragic killing of SFC Chapman. Upon witnessing the horrific scene, Mutmain chanted a requiem he composed spontaneously for SFC Chapman. “I have seen Al Qaeda killing an American,” the merchant sang in a quavering falsetto, “and it wounds my heart and soul.”
Nathan was born on April 23, 1970, at Andrews Air Force Base, where his father was stationed. As with most military children, he called several places ‘home’ during his childhood. While growing up, he balanced his time between his academic studies, the wrestling team, and an active social life. In July 1988, at the age of 18, Nathan enlisted in the Army in San Antonio, Texas. The 31-year-old Green Beret communications specialist was a Desert Storm veteran and skilled marksman, but his family remembers him most for his loving manner and pride in his chosen career. “The Army took to him and he took to the Army,” stated his father, Will Chapman. At Fort Lewis, where Nathan had been based, former colleagues praised him for his commitment to the Army and his dynamic personality. “He was a very charismatic person. People loved working with him and he loved working with soldiers,” recalled CPT Edwin Hoenig. Nathan is survived by his parents, Will and Lynn Chapman; wife, Renae; daughter, Amanda; and son, Brandon.
SFC Nathan Chapman was 31 years old from San Antonio, Texas
Original portrait was presented May 23, 2009, to his parents during a special event hosted by the members of the local Military Order of the Purple Heart near Austin, Texas