Fallen weather Airman honored

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  • 55th Wing Public Affairs
Members of the 557th Weather Wing gathered for a remembrance ceremony in honor of Capt. Nathan Nylander, a fallen weather Airman, April 27.

Nylander was a weather officer with the 25th Operational Weather Squadron at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., who was killed in Afghanistan along with eight others during a shooting at Kabul International Airport on April 27, 2011.

Nylander's 25th OWS commander emceed the event and took a moment to speak about the captain.

"We talk about the term Airman, it is not just a word and it's not just given out freely, it is something you earn every day," said U.S. Air Force Col. Donald Shannon, 2nd Weather Group commander. "Nathan earned that term. When he gave the ultimate sacrifice, he solidified his name as Airman in our history."

Deployed as an advisor to NATO on that fateful day, Nylander was in a nearby conference room when he heard shots being fired. He quickly proceeded into the hallway where he and another officer shot at an Afghan Air Force officer who had just opened fire on U.S. military members and civilians.

Believing the attacker was incapacitated, Nylander began helping the wounded. When the gunman opened fire again, the captain shot at the attacker and was wounded, ultimately losing his life.

"He personified everything we would like people to believe we are as Airmen," said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Michael Gerlach, 557th WW superintendent of standards and event coordinator. "[He exhibited] bravery and selflessness."

Hopefully the service members who attended the ceremony took away pride in serving their nation, doing all that they can to make the mission happen and the necessity to take care of others, added Gerlach. These are the things Capt. Nylander believed in and instilled in the Airmen under him.

"What I would like everyone to do, as we reflect on the words, actions and gallantry that was displayed by Capt. Nylander, is not only remember what he did and his selfless actions and the training and reaction he chose to take, but also his family," Carle said.

Nylander was survived by his wife and two kids. They spent the fifth year anniversary of his passing with other families affected by the same incident at the Air Advisor Memorial on Joint Base Mcguire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.

"Even though they couldn't be here, I know that the fact that we are doing this means a tremendous amount," Carle said.

For his sacrifice five years ago, Nylander was posthumously awarded the Silver Star, the nation's third-highest award for combat valor. And thanks to the efforts of his fellow Air Force Weather Airmen, his memory will not be forgotten.