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Army Spc. Nathan W. Nakis

Died December 16, 2003 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom


19, of Corvallis, Ore.; assigned to Company B, 52nd Engineer Battalion (Heavy), Army National Guard, based in Albany, Ore.; died Dec. 16 when he lost control of his vehicle after driving through an oil-soaked area as his convoy was returning to Mosul, Iraq.

As a child, Nathan Nakis loved building and earth-moving vehicles. For his birthday, an uncle got him Army boots. When he went to Iraq, he was trained as a soldier but armed, as Gov. Ted Kulognoski put it, with the "tools of peace" , part of a unit that builds and repairs Iraqi homes, roads and water systems. Spc. Nakis, 19, of Sedro-Woolley, Wash., was killed Dec. 16 in Iraq when the truck he was driving rolled over. Nakis was an honor student and Boy Scout who enrolled in Oregon State University with plans to become a civil engineer. He had been in school about a month when his unit was activated. While overseas, he won over children with his soccer and slingshot skills, and youths would stand outside his tent, calling his name and asking him to come play, said Joe Mesteth, his company's family support coordinator. "His heart was different than other people's hearts," family friend Mike Janicki said. "Nathan went over there to win the peace." Survivors include his parents, Arty and Elinor Nakis.

— Associated Press

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