Sunday, July 01, 2007

Nathan L. Winder dies 'of wounds sustained from enemy small arms fire'

Terri Winder remembers her son as a soft-hearted man with a tough shell who was loyal to friends and family and loved children.

"He cared about other people," the Blanding mother said of her son, Nathan, who died Tuesday serving in the U.S. military in Iraq. "He loved the children in Iraq and carried teddy bears and things to give them. He was trying to help two Iraqi children come to the states for medical attention."

Sgt. 1st Class Nathan L. Winder, 32, a Special Forces medic assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group in Ft. Lewis, Wash., died from wounds sustained during combat outside of Diwaniyah, Iraq, according to the U.S. Army Special Forces Command in Fort Bragg, N.C.
Winder was a member of a U.S. Special Forces Quick Reaction Force when he was killed by small arms fire. His mother said he was shot in the neck.

Winder, who joined the military immediately upon graduation from high school in Blanding, was dispatched to Iraq in January.

He is the third son of Terri and Tom Winder to serve in Iraq, Terri Winder said.

"When the other two were in Iraq, Nathan had a hard time with that," she said. "He didn't like it that his brothers were serving in the war and he was here at home. He wanted to be over there serving his country. Then his turn came."

Terri Winder said the family received news of her son's death from his wife, Mechelle, and were visited by military officials Wednesday morning.

Nathan Winder called his wife almost every day, Terri Winder said. When there was no word on Tuesday, his wife, who is living in Canada with her sister, got worried. Then the military arrived to notify her of her husband's death.

"She said his [e-mail site] was still up on her computer when they were talking to her," Terri Winder said. "After they left, she wrote him a note, just in case. That's kind of how you feel about something like this. It just seems so unreal."

Born in Seoul, Korea, Winder was adopted at the age of 2 and raised in Blanding, where his parents still reside. In all, the Winders have adopted eight children, some of them with special needs.

"The fact that he was abandoned at such an early age affected him all his life," Terri Winder said. "He was very tender, even though he had created a hard shell on the outside. And he laughed a lot."

She says Nathan and his other two brothers who served in Iraq were "proud of the work they did," and the Winder family stood firmly behind them and the Iraq military effort.

"All of my sons feel good about what they did in Iraq," she said. "None of them feel the press represents the good things that happen there. [Nathan] felt like they were making a difference. He said, 'They don't know what we're offering them. They've never tasted freedom before.' " Nathan Winder is survived by his wife, his 11-year-old son by a previous marriage, Logan, of Herkimer, N.Y., his parents and siblings.

The family is uncertain about burial plans, his mother said. He had noted on his military papers that he wants to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery, she said, but the family would prefer to bury him in Blanding. They expect to receive more information later this week.

"We have no idea at this point how things will be," Terri Winder said. "I know he just had the military mind-set when he wrote that and never really thought it would happen. It would be like losing him twice if we can't bring him home."

Nathan Winder was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Media, Iraqi Campaign Medal and Combat Infantryman's Badge.

From the Salt Lake Tribune