U.S. Air Force Capt. Nathan Nylander made the ultimate sacrifice April 27, 2011 during an enemy attack in Kabul, Afghanistan. 10 years later, his memory lives on as Airmen and Soldiers from across the globe held a memorial ruck march to honor his bravery and selfless service.
Nylander, a weather officer with the 25th Operational Weather Squadron from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, was killed in Afghanistan during a shooting at the Kabul International Airport. At the time, he was deployed as an advisor to NATO’s Operation Enduring Freedom.
On April 27, an assailant posing as a member of the Afghan Air Force, opened fire on several U.S. military and civilians within the airport where Nylander worked. Instead of escaping to safety, Nylander sprang into action by firing shots at the assailant, rendering him temporarily incapacitated. While helping the wounded, Nylander was struck multiple times by the recovered assailant, which left him mortally wounded. Eight others were also killed during the attack.
Nylander was posthumously awarded the Silver Star for his selfless act of bravery that day.
Tech Sgt. Joey Shiver, U.S. Air Force staff weather officer with Fort Stewart’s 18th Combat Weather Squadron, first met Nylander at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, in 2007.
“We didn’t speak a whole lot, but from what I could tell about him, he was really personable and he knew his stuff when it came to weather forecasting,” he said. “When I learned about the attack in Kabul, I was pretty shocked to find out that he was one of 8 Airmen we lost. Later on after the details emerged, what didn’t surprise me was his heroic actions and how he helped save innumerous lives that day.”
This year marks 10 years since Nylander made the ultimate sacrifice.
To honor his fallen comrade’s legacy during this significant anniversary, Shiver chose to orchestrate a memorial ruck march that quickly took the globe by storm.
“I’ve been personally overwhelmed with the responses across the globe from those who wanted to participate,” Shiver said. “We had Air Force members in a myriad of career-fields spanning from South Korea, Japan, Germany, and all over the United States participate remotely in their own locations.”
A group of tactical air control party Airmen from Fort Stewart’s 15th Air Support Operations Squadron, staff weather officers with the 18th Combat Weather Squadron, and Grey Eagle Soldiers from the 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade participated in Tuesday’s 4.75 mile ruck on Fort Stewart’s Wright Army Airfield.
“To be able to share this event with so many people from different military communities and backgrounds shows how willing people are to honor Captain Nylander’s sacrifice and what he means to our military and to this country,” Shiver said. “Even for those who didn’t know him well or even only knew him through passing, his actions brought immense pride to us all.”