Sergeant First Class Nathan Ross Chapman was a Special Forces Communications Sergeant assigned to 3rd Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne). He was killed in action during Operation ENDURING FREEDOM on 4 January 2002, near the town of Khost in Afghanistan. He was the first American soldier to be killed in combat in the war in Afghanistan.
Born at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland where his father was stationed, SFC Chapman grew up in a variety of towns across the United States, but listed his hometown as San Antonio, Texas when he joined the military at the age of 18. He’d never lived in San Antonio, but that is where his grandparents lived.
Assigned to the 1st Special Forces Group following the 11 September attacks, Chapman was directing troop movements when he was shot. During the attack a CIA Paramilitary Operations Officer from Special Activities Division working with the team was also wounded.
SFC Chapman enlisted in the Army in July 1988, completed Basic and Advanced Individual Training as an infantryman at Fort Benning Georgia. After which he also completed parachutist and Ranger training there. Following his initial training at Fort Benning,
he was assigned to Company A, 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Fort Lewis, Washington. In December 1989, he participated in his first combat action when he took part in the 2nd Ranger Battalion’s airborne assault into Panama during Operation JUST CAUSE In January 1991, while assigned to 3rd Battalion, 47th Infantry Regiment, he participated in his second combat action when he deployed to Saudi Arabia as part of Operation DESERT STORM.
In September 1991, SFC Chapman volunteered for Special Forces training. In December 1992, he graduated from the Special Forces Communications Sergeants Course at Fort Bragg, N.C., and went on to complete the Basic Military Language Course for Tagalog in June 1993.
In July 1993, he returned to Fort Lewis, where he was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne). Here, he served in Operational Detachment A-185 and later in
ODA-195. In 1995 he deployed to Haiti as part of Operation UPHOLD DEMOCRACY.
In 1998, SFC Chapman was reassigned to 1st Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group, in Okinawa, Japan. He served there for three years as a member of ODA-125 and later in ODA-135. In June 2001, he returned to Fort Lewis and 3rd Battalion and became a member of ODA-194. In November 2001, SFC Chapman volunteered for a special mission in Afghanistan, where he participated in Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.
SFC Chapman was a highly decorated combat veteran whose awards and decorations include the Bronze Star with “V” device, the Purple Heart, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Army Achievement Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters, the Humanitarian Service Medal, the United Nations Medal, the Kuwait Liberation Medal, the Southwest Asia Service Medal with Bronze Service Star, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal with arrow head, the Army Good Conduct Medal (3rd Award), the Armed Forces Service Medal, the Joint Meritorious Service Unit Award, the Army Superior Unit Award, the Combat Infantryman Badge second award, the Master Parachutist Badge, the Parachutist Combat Badge with bronze service star, the Special Forces Combat Divers Badge, the Special Forces Tab, the Ranger Tab, and the Royal Thai Army Parachutist Badge. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star.
Forward Operating Base Chapman in Afghanistan was named after SFC Chapman.