The CIA Book of Honor — Star 122 : Nathan Ross Chapman

“For as long as this Agency endures, we will never shy away from the risks that must be taken to protect America and to further freedom’s cause. Today, we pay tribute to our heroes who accepted those risks and placed themselves in harm’s way, expecting neither praise nor fame in return.”

CIA Director John O. Brennan — May 18 2015

Nathan Ross Chapman (April 23, 1970 – January 4, 2002)

September 14 2021 — On May 18 2015, the Central Intelligence Agency held its annual memorial ceremony to pay tribute to the men and women of CIA who have died in the line of duty. Two stars were added to the Memorial Wall. Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY

RELATED POST: CIA Honors its Fallen in Annual Memorial Ceremony (May 25 2021)

RELATED POST: The CIA Memorial Wall — The First 78 Stars

RELATED POST: The CIA Book of Honor — Star 79 : Johnny Micheal Spann (March 1, 1969 – November 25, 2001) [First CIA STAR Post 9/11]

RELATED POST: On This Day — Remembering CIA Jennifer Matthews ( December 6 1964 – December 30 2009 )

RELATED POST: CIA Memorial Wall — A quick note about the 37 classified stars

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A special page  “CIA Book of Honor” has been created. This will allow you to find easily the references to the stars we have already written about. I will try to keep this page up to date.

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“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.”

Washington Post

At the 2015 ceremony, two additional stars were added to the Memorial Wall, meaning two CIA officers had died in the line of duty. Their identities were not disclosed.  

During the ceremony, Brennan presented the families of the two officers with a marble replica of their loved one’s star.

Nathan was killed in action near the town of Khost on January 4, 2002. He was the first American soldier to be killed by enemy fire in the war in Afghanistan.

Chapman’s death was just over a month after the first American death in combat in the war.

Johnny “Mike” Spann, a 32-year-old CIA paramilitary officer from Alabama, was killed in late November 2001 during a revolt of Taliban prisoners in northern Afghanistan.

It was never explained why the CIA needed thirteen years to acknowledge Chapman’s death.

After the 2015 ceremony, then-CIA director John Brennan reportedly told Chapman’s father : “It should have been done a long time ago.”

But Brennan gave no explanation for why it had not been done earlier. 37 stars remain classified to this day, including Nathan Chapman’s star.

The Memorial Wall now has 137 stars.

Since the attacks of September 11 2001, 59 stars have been added to the Book of Honor and the Memorial Wall, almost as many as during the first half century of the agency.

From the military to the CIA

Chapman joined the military at the age of 18.

In 1989, he participated in his first combat mission, in Panama, and he would go on to deploy in Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Storm.

In September 1991, he volunteered for Special Forces training.

He also served in Haiti in 1995 before spending three years in Okinawa, Japan.

Chapman had transferred back to Fort Lewis, Wash., from Okinawa just before the September 11 2001, attacks.

And now, the CIA was looking for someone with exactly his background and expertise in telecommunication.

“The mystique went away, and reality showed up when Nate died. It took the Superman T-shirt from every one of us who thought we were invincible.”

Former teammate SFC Jason Koehler

Death in Afghanistan

Chapman went to Afghanistan as a member of what the CIA called Team Hotel — a six-man unit composed of three Special Forces soldiers, two CIA paramilitary officers and a CIA contractor.

On January 4 2002, Chapman was shot in an ambush. To this day, it is unclear exactly who shot Chapman and why.

He did not die instantly from the attack, which also saw a CIA Paramilitary Operations Officer from Special Activities Division wounded.

Camp Chapman

Forward Operating Base Chapman, also known as Camp Chapman, was named after Nathan Chapman.

The camp was located at the site of a former Afghan Army installation. It was situated on an airstrip in Khost province, Afghanistan.

A military base at the beginning, it was later transformed into a CIA base.

On December 30, 2009, seven CIA personnel — five officers, including the chief of the base, and two contractors were killed in a suicide bombing.

It was the second largest single-day loss in the CIA’s history, after the 1983 United States Embassy bombing in Beirut, Lebanon, which killed eight CIA officers.

Statistics by cause since 9/11

Killed in combat :: 79 – 82 – 83 – 86 – 122 = (5)

Training exercise :: 80 = (1)

Travel accidents :: 81 – 87 – 103 – 114 – 115 – 116 – 117 – 118 – 119  – 120  – 130 – 131 = (12)

Other accidents :: 84 (electrocuted) – 85 (electrocuted) = (2)

Classified :: 121 = (1)

These statistics only include the list of stars I have discussed so far.

Methodology

When the CIA honor several officers with a star during the same ceremony, I have no way of knowing the star number of a given individual.

However, according to CIA records, Rachel Dean is star #87. Therefore, I will assume that — in such case — the stars are ranked according to the year of death.

This may or may not be the methodology used by the CIA. For instance, they might use the number of years served at the Agency.

When several individuals die on the same day (same event), I rank their stars by alphabetical order. Again, the CIA may use a different methodology.

REFERENCES

After 13 years, CIA honors Green Beret killed on secret Afghanistan mission — Washington Post

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The CIA Book of Honor — Star 122 : Nathan Ross Chapman

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