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Soldier's body to arrive in the U.S. Tuesday



(CNN) -- The remains of the U.S. Army Special Forces soldier killed last week in Afghanistan are scheduled to arrive Tuesday in the United States, according to U.S. military officials in Europe.

Sgt. 1st Class Nathan Ross Chapman, 31, of San Antonio, Texas, was killed Friday in an ambush in eastern Afghanistan, the first U.S. serviceman to die by hostile fire in the Afghan campaign.

A 14-year-old boy might have been responsible for killing Chapman, Afghan tribal leaders told CNN, but U.S. officials are still investigating his death.

"It most definitely was an ambush, which would tell us that this was something that was anticipated and therefore in some regard must have been set up," U.S. Navy Rear Adm. John Stufflebeem said at Monday's Pentagon media briefing.

"And it was a small-arms fire fight. But we don't have any more definitive details on that, and so we're trying to look for it."

CNN was told Afghan tribal leaders were considering the possibility of handing over to U.S. authorities the teen thought to be involved in the soldier's shooting death. The final decision might not come until Tuesday morning.

Chapman's body arrived Saturday at Ramstein Air Base in Germany and was sent to the Army facility at Landstuhl. His remains will be flown by a commercial airline from Germany to Seattle, Washington, most likely leaving from Frankfurt, Germany.

His funeral will be held Friday at a chapel in Fort Lewis, the base near Tacoma, Washington, where he spent much of his 13-year military career, with burial to follow at a national military cemetery in the area.

VIDEO
Wilbur Chapman, father of U.S. Green Beret Nathan Chapman, killed in Afghanistan, talks about his son. CNN's Frank Buckley reports (January 5)

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Chapman was killed on a mission to coordinate with local tribal elements in the Paktia province near the town of Khowst in eastern Afghanistan. U.S. forces have been operating in that area to try to choke off Taliban and al Qaeda members fleeing to Pakistan.

According to U.S. officials, Chapman's mission involved a joint team of CIA and special forces. Members of the military's elite counterterrorist Delta Force unit also were involved, they said. When the team reported they were in trouble, a rapid reaction team came in and got them out, officials said.

A CIA officer also was shot in the incident but his wounds were not life-threatening, according to the U.S. officials.

Chapman was a member of the Army's 1st Special Forces Group based in Fort Lewis. He joined the Army in 1988.

He parachuted into Panama during the invasion of that country in 1989 and he served in Operation Desert Storm. He later went to the Army's Special Forces School at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Chapman is survived by his wife, Renae, and two children -- Amanda, 2, and Brandon, 1.

Chapman's father, Wilbur, a retired Air Force veteran, told CNN's "Larry King Live" that he appreciated President Bush's remarks over the weekend that his son had died in a "just and important" cause.

"That was why he was serving in the Green Berets," he said. "He believed in this country, he believed in the fight for freedom and knew it was a continuous battle, and he was willing to do his part."

He read a short statement from Nathan Chapman's wife, Renae, who he said is "having a difficult time, as you might imagine" and opted not to meet with the media.

Chapman's parents said their son understood the risks and was willing to
Chapman's parents said their son understood the risks and was willing to "do his part."  

"Nathan would be happy that the nation supports what he believed in -- justice and freedom. Nathan would also like to thank the nation for helping his family when he can't," her statement read.

Chapman said his son called them Christmas morning on a satellite phone and said he was sorry not to be with his wife and children.

His father quoted his son as saying, "I know, Dad, but I'm with my second family, and they're a great bunch of guys." Chapman's family members said they did not know where he was sent when he was deployed in November, but they deduced from the phone call that he was in Afghanistan.

"He loved what he was doing, and he was willing to do whatever he had to do," his father said. "He was a wonderful son, and we're going to miss him."

Chapman is the first American military death from hostile fire, but 10 other Americans have died since the campaign began in Afghanistan, including a CIA operative killed in a Taliban prison uprising and three Green Berets killed in an accidental bombing by U.S. planes.



 
 
 
 


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