Honoring a Hero
Miriam Hamilton and her family pose for a photo at the Air Force Weather Agency at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., on July 19 with some of the volunteers who served in the 24-hour vigil honoring her late husband, U.S. Air Force Capt. Nathan Nylander, on the second anniversary of his death. Nylander was a weather officer who was killed in Afghanistan along with eight others during a shooting at Kabul International Airport on April 27, 2011. (Photo by Josh Plueger)
Family of fallen Airman visit AFWA to offer thanks



by Ryan Hansen
55th Wing Public Affairs


8/1/2013 - OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. -- The family of U.S. Air Force Capt. Nathan Nylander paid a visit to the Air Force Weather Agency at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., July 19 to offer their personal thanks to those Airmen who served in the 24-hour vigil honoring their fallen hero in April.

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.

On the second anniversary of Nylander's death, more than 30 men and women from AFWA volunteered to stand guard in 30 or 60 minute shifts for 24 hours straight to honor and remember their fallen Airman.

"While Nathan is always in my thoughts every day, I want to make sure he's not forgotten by others either," said Miriam Hamilton, who is Nylander's widow. "By doing what you did, you ensured to me that his memory and sacrifice are remembered."

Hamilton was joined at the special event by her children, Tyler, Elisabeth and Andru. She spoke of the love that Nylander had for the weather career field and shared a few personal stories about their 14 years together.

She also pointed out one special guest in attendance, U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Chris Banks, a medical technician with the 55th Medical Operations Squadron.

Banks was deployed to Afghanistan and working in an advisory role with the 438th Air Expeditionary Wing at the time of the incident in Kabul. Risking his own life, he responded to the scene and provided medical triage to Nylander as well as other wounded Airmen in the building. For his actions on that day, he was awarded the Bronze Star with Valor.

"Chris is my hero," Hamilton said. "He risked his life to try and save my husband. (He) did what a lot of people wouldn't have done and I'm so glad he could be here."

At that point Hamilton and her children presented each volunteer with a note of appreciation signed by the family as well as a special Nylander coin. The coin features his image, a Silver Star, battlefield cross, Air Force symbol and a bible verse.

"He loved colleting coins," Hamilton said. "I have all of his coins displayed at our home and it's a really nice way to remember him."

After each volunteer met with Hamilton, U.S. Air Force Col. Louis Zuccarello, AFWA commander, presented Nylander's family with a framed newspaper article that was written about the special vigil.

"We're so honored to have you here with us," he said. "We want you to know that Capt. Nylander's memory lives on and we're so glad that we had this opportunity to say thanks to you in person."