The Desert Lightning Team lost one of its own when Capt. Nathan J. Nylander, 25th Operational Weather Squadron, was killed April 27 during a shooting at Kabul International Airport, Afghanistan. He is survived by his wife, Miriam, and three children. The Desert Lightning Team is saddened by this tragic loss. (Courtesy photo)
DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. - The battle cross dedicated to Capt. Nathan Nylander is displayed during the memorial service held at the 755th Aircraft Maintenance Hangar here May 6. The battle cross symbolizes the final march in the battle of a fallen comrade. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Jerilyn Quintanilla)
DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. - Members of the Davis-Monthan Honor Guard team transport the remains of Capt. Nathan Nylander, a member of the 25th Operational Weather Squadron, in preparation for a dignified transfer on the flight line here May 6. Capt. Nylander died April 27 during a shooting at Kabul International Airport, Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Jerilyn Quintanilla)
DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. - Desert Lightning Team members pay respects to a fallen team member here May 6. Capt. Nathan Nylander, a member of the 25th Operations Weather Squadron, died during a recent deployment to Afghanistan April 27. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Jerilyn Quintanilla)
6/8/2011 - DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Az. -- More than 600 members of the Desert Lightning Team came together May 6 to honor one of their own during a memorial service for Capt. Nathan J. Nylander.
Captain Nylander was a meteorologist with the 25th Operational Weather Squadron here and was killed along with eight others during a shooting at Kabul International Airport, Afghanistan on April 27.
"Nate was a wingman, leader and warrior just like the Air Force Creed states we should be," said 2nd Lt. Richard Landsverk, a flight commander with the 25th OWS. "He was my friend and colleague. I will never forget him and I will try to emulate his leadership abilities so I can help him live on."
Captain Nylander was serving as an adviser to NATO and was helping to train the Afghan air force when he died.
"I know God put him there for a reason," said his wife Miriam, who spoke at the memorial service. "He was a great husband, an amazing father, a proud Airman and an American hero."
She said Captain Nylander came from a military family and joined the Air Force when he was 18 years. He loved being in the Air Force and serving his country.
"Nathan was a committed Airman, and he was committed to his Airmen," she said.
His fellow wingmen in the 25th OWS said he was dedicated and could always be counted on.
"Nate certainly immersed himself into every facet of this organization from being the first and last person at work to spending the night in a hospital next to his Airmen," said Tim Villaran, a former flight commander with the 25th OWS. "When I walk through the squadron now I see so many holes because in my mind he was so integrated into every aspect of what this squadron has become. He's such a fixture in the unit and more reliable than the building's foundation."
"He was a man who impacted the lives of those who knew him, and brought out the best in everyone," said Senior Airman Blake Medler, a forecaster with the 25th OWS. "He lived his life by the core values that we all represent. Every day he strived to be the best and expected nothing less from the members of his flight."
Since the news of Captain Nylander's death, the 25th OWS team has rallied around each other to press ahead with the mission and to honor his memory.
"Captain Nylander helped countless Airmen in the flight develop themselves and become stellar Airmen," Lieutenant Landsverk said. "He lived the Air Force core values Integrity First, Service Before Self and Excellence in All We Do."
As a lasting tribute to Captain Nylander, the 25th OWS is in the early stages of creating a permanent memorial to him in the entrance way of their operations floor.
"This will be our way of never forgetting Captain Nylander and his sacrifice for our country," said Lt. Col. Lee Byerle, 25th OWS commander. "He was a great example for everyone in our squadron and will be missed dearly."
During the memorial service Captain Nylander was posthumously awarded a Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Force Combat Action Award and a Purple Heart.
The service concluded with the signing of "Amazing Grace" followed by an A-10 flyover in a missing-man formation.
"Captain Nylander was the consummate professional and an inspirational leader," said Master Sgt. Scott Maier, a flight chief with the 25th OWS. "The type of person you aspired to be like."
Capt. Nylander is survived by his parents, three children Tyler, Andru, Elisabeth, and his wife, Miriam.