By Gene Johnson
FORT LEWIS Hundreds of soldiers and relatives stood under drizzling skies yesterday to memorialize Sgt. 1st Class Nathan Ross Chapman, the first American killed by enemy fire in Afghanistan.
"It deeply saddens me today, but we now have a new hero," Col. David Fridovich, commander of the 1st Special Forces Group at Fort Lewis, said before Chapman was awarded military honors.
Chapman, 31, a married father of two from Puyallup, was killed last Friday by small-arms fire during an ambush near Khost, a few miles from the Pakistan border. He and a CIA agent, who was wounded, had been meeting with local tribal leaders.
His widow, Renae, his parents and his children attended the ceremony in a small cul-de-sac in front of Special Forces headquarters. The circle, which had been named Commander's Circle, was renamed Chapman Circle in the slain soldier's honor.
Chapman's family has established a fund to support his children's education.
Donations to the Sgt. Nathan Chapman Children's Fund can be made at
any Bank of America branch.
In her husband's absence, Renae Chapman accepted the combat-infantryman's badge, the Purple Heart, and a Bronze Star with valor. She held back tears as her 2-year-old daughter, Amanda, sat wrapped in a blanket on her lap.
Chapman's parents, Will and Lynn Chapman, left their home in Georgetown, Texas, to comfort their daughter-in-law and grandchildren, Amanda and 1-year-old Brandon. A funeral is scheduled for this morning, and Chapman will be buried at Tahoma National Cemetery near Covington.
During yesterday's ceremony, Chapman's widow accompanied Fridovich to unveil a granite memorial outside Special Forces headquarters. Chapman's name was added to the memorial after that of Maj. Wallace Cole Hogan, 40, who died in the Sept. 11 attack on the Pentagon.
After the monument was revealed, Command Sgt. Maj. Jody Nacy called the roll for the 3rd Battalion. Each soldier replied, "Here, sergeant major," until Nacy reached Chapman's name.
"Sergeant First Class Chapman."
There was silence.
"Sergeant First Class Nathan Chapman."
"Sergeant First Class Nathan R. Chapman."
The only answer was 21 volleys fired by members of the 3rd Battalion.
Then, as the smell of gun powder drifted over the mourners, a brass band played taps. Four military helicopters flew overhead, the lead one trailing an American flag, and soldiers played a recording of "The Ballad of the Green Berets.
Copyright © 2002 The Seattle Times Company