LT Nathan D. White

LT Nathan D. White


Hometown / City: MESA, AZ MARICOPA
Date of Death: Wednesday, April 2, 2003
Conflict: Operation Iraqi Freedom (Iraq)
Branch: U.S. Navy
Rank: Lt.

Birth: Dec. 12, 1972
Del Rio
Val Verde County
Texas, USA
Death: Apr. 2, 2003, Iraq

Navy Lt White was assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron One Nine Five (VFA 195), based in Atsugi, Japan, and deployed with Carrier Air Wing Five (CVW 5) aboard USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63). White was the pilot of an F/A-18C Hornet lost when U.S. Patriot anti-missile batteries shot down the jet because the systems mistook the plane for Iraqi missiles. Nathan was born at Laughlin AFB. He was a good but mischievous boy, very intelligent, who once got his hands on the answer sheet to a test being given at school. He taped it, to the benefit of the entire class, to the front of the teacher's desk out of the instructor's line of sight. Nathan grew up in Abilene, Texas, and graduated from Cooper High School in 1991. He graduated from Brigham Young University and spent two years as a missionary in Japan. Nathan moved to Mesa, Arizona and lived there for two years before joining the Navy. His wife, Akiko, and his three children are in Japan. His family made a statement after his death that aviation was his passion. He was a man who lived his dream and died defending this country. On the evening of April 2, a catapult slammed Nathan back into his cockpit seat as his F-18 Hornet blasted off the deck of the USS Kitty Hawk. Soaring into the Persian Gulf night, Nate likely grinned as he regained stick and rudder control of his war bird. Air Force pilots think their Navy counterparts are nuts. But to naval aviators, being flung off an aircraft carrier and, later, catching the "number three wire" on a moving deck is a kick-in-the-pants. Nate had just begun his 14th combat sortie and he and his wingman had full bomb loads and were bound for targets in south-central Iraq. After the bombing raid, he and his wingman headed for the Arabian Gulf and home to the "Battle Cat." Just after midnight, the Hornets screamed high over the Karbola Gap, a strategic chokepoint on the invasion route to Baghdad. On the horizon below, Nate spotted the flashes of missiles being launched. Within seconds, the "SAMs" began to track him. He radioed calmly that he was taking evasive action. Those were his last words. One of the missiles detonated and sheared off Nate's cockpit. His wingman said the explosion lit up the night sky, almost like fireworks. Nate's body was found ten days later floating among the mangled remnants of his F-18 in a lake west of Karbala.

Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington County
Virginia, USA
Plot: Section 60, Site 7873

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