Monday, July 02, 2007

Nathan Winder remembered

The parents of Army Sgt. 1st Class Nathan Winder, who was killed this week in Iraq, have photos taken of their son caring for a little girl rejected by a local hospital.

Tom and Terri Winder don't know why their son was at the hospital with his team when they saw the girl with a gash in her face. There was a lot about Nathan's military life that, because of his job, had to remain secret.

But Winder, on his first tour in Iraq, told his parents about how his team followed the girl's family out of the hospital where they had been refused care and sat her on a stone bench. For privacy, some soldiers surrounded the girl while Winder used his skills as a medic to stitch up the wound on her cheek. Winder gave her a stuffed toy when he was done.

Someone had a camera outside the hospital, and the resulting picture of that impromptu operation now remains as an example of how Winder's parents define their son.

"He loved kids," his father, Tom Winder, said. "He always had something for the kids."

Winder, 32, was killed Tuesday as he and his U.S. Special Forces Quick Reaction Force team came to the aid of some military police officers who had been ambushed and were taking small-arms fire near Diwaniyah.

The MPs, his mother Terri Winder said Thursday, were saved, and her son was the only one killed in the attack. Tom and Terri, who live in Blanding, are the parents of eight adopted children and 10 biological siblings.

Tom said his third son to serve in Iraq wanted the children there, if only for a moment, to feel some sense of freedom, however seemingly minute its manifestation.

"I think he was trying to show them that we are not their enemy," Tom said. His son had told him how some Iraqis " ... are taught from the time they are young that anyone who is not Muslim is their enemy."

"(Nathan) kept saying the older (Iraqi) people have never had the freedoms we've had, and they don't know what they're missing," Tom added. "He was trying to show the children, hey, there's a better way."

Terri Winder said her son remarked in e-mails how Iraqi children he met seemed so appreciative of the little things, like a wave from a U.S. soldier or a piece of candy.

"He loved the children," she said. "He gave them a sense that they were cared about."

In his parents' eyes, Winder may have had a soft spot for Iraqi children because of the abandonment he felt knowing that at about age 2 he was left on the steps of a courthouse in Seoul, South Korea. Tom and Terri adopted Nathan a short time later.

Nathan's wife of seven years, Mechelle, who lives in Canada, said through a family spokesman, "I am certainly not ready to lose him — he's been the love of my life from the day we met." He also leaves behind a son, Logan, 11, who lives in New York with Nathan's former wife.

From the Deseret News

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