When Nathan Ross Chapman became the first military casualty to die by enemy fire during the war in Afghanistan, the only American flag available for his casket was a patch torn off the uniform of an airman loading his coffin for the long trip home. He was buried on Jan. 11, 2002, a week after his death, with full military honors in Tahoma National Cemetery, Wash.
It took another 13 years for the CIA to recognize on its Memorial Wall that Chapman, an Army Green Beret, was also one of its own — the sergeant first class had been officially detailed to the agency in the weeks after the 9/11 attacks and died acting as a CIA paramilitary team’s communications specialist.
Chapman’s death was a watershed event for a country that didn’t know it was headed into a seemingly endless war, where the news of those lost would turn into a kind of white noise for many Americans. The first of its kind in Afghanistan, his death drew national attention, including a televised funeral.
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