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The Things That Go Left Unsaid: Remembering A Son and Brother — The First U.S. Soldier Killed in Afghanistan

Army Sgt. 1st Class Nathan Ross Chapman was born at Andrews Air Force Base, where his father was stationed at the time. Like many military families, they moved around a lot during his childhood. This instilled an adventurous spirit in Nathan, while it challenged his older brother, Keith, who preferred more order.

The brother’s would go on to lead very separate lives — while living under the same roof. 

Nathan Chapman, Lynn Chapman & Keith Chapman, March 1981 in Contra Costa County, CA. Courtesy of the Chapman family.

In 1988, at age 18, Nathan sat his parents, Lynn and Wilbur down to ask for their blessing to enlist. It would be the beginning of a significant and highly decorated 12-and-a-half year career in service, leading into the Special Forces, where his speciality was communications.

Two months after September 11th, Nathan would volunteer for a special mission. On January 4th, 2002, he became the first American soldier killed in combat, during the War in Afghanistan. 

Lynn and Keith Chapman came to StoryCorps to remember a complicated dynamic between brothers, and the things that sometimes go left unsaid.

Keith Chapman and Lynn Chapman at their StoryCorps interview in Frederick, MD, on August 20, 2021. For StoryCorps. 

Nathan Ross Chapman is survived by his wife, Renae, his daughter Amanda, his son Brandon, his parents Wilbur and Lynn Chapman, his brother Keith Chapman, and his half-brother Kevin Chapman. His other half-brother David Chapman has since passed away.

Top Photo: Nathan Chapman in Haiti, 1995. Courtesy of the Chapman family.

Originally aired August 28, 2021 on NPR’s Weekend Edition.