Silver Star posthumously awarded to Airman

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Saphfire D. Cook
  • 355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Capt. Nathan Nylander was posthumously awarded the Silver Star, the nation's third-highest award for combat valor, during a ceremony here Sept. 24.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz presented the decoration to Nylander's wife Miriam, his children Tyler, Elizabeth and Andru, and members of his extended family. More than 200 Airmen from the Desert Lightning Team attended the event honoring their fallen brother-in-arms.

Nylander was deployed to Afghanistan as an advisor when an Afghan Air Force officer suddenly opened fire on American servicemembers and civilians at Kabul International Airport.

"On that fateful day of April 27, 2011, each one of our core values and codes of conduct was personified," said Lt. Col Michael Gremillion, 25th Operational Weather Squadron commander. "That is why we are here today to honor Capt. Nathan Nylander."

When the gunman opened fire, Nylander evacuated the conference room he occupied with four other Airmen and eight Afghan personnel. He then proceeded into the hallway where he and another officer fired back, wounding the gunman.

Believing the attacker was incapacitated, Nylander began assisting the wounded. When the gunman began firing again, the captain reengaged the attacker and was wounded in the ensuing battle. Ultimately, Nylander lost his life.

"Captain Nylander's ultimate sacrifice embodies gallantry in action and, as inscribed on the medal, valor in the face of a determined enemy," Schwartz said.

Nylander's medal is the Air Force's first posthumously awarded Silver Star since 9/11.

"Your dad is an inspiration to me and, I daresay, to everyone in this room," Schwartz said to Nylander's children. "How unsatisfied our debt to you and your family will always be."