Davis-Monthan airman awarded Silver Star posthumously

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TUCSON, Ariz. -- A Davis-Monthan airman is honored for heroic actions he took in his very last moments.

Saturday, the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force flew in to personally pay tribute to Captain Nathan Nylander who lost his life while helping his comrades.

"Our nation was blessed with a brave and generous airman who has devoted his life through serving his country through his deeds and is certainly most deserving," said General Schwartz.

Reverent words from Air Force Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz to describe Captain Nathan Nylander.

The 35-year-old airman was killed April 27 in Afghanistan.

"Now let us proceed officially presenting the posthumous award of the Silver Star," said Schwartz.

Nylander's wife Miriam and their three children accepted the honor awarded for valor in the face of the enemy.

Nylander died trying to take down an Afghan air force officer who opened fire in their headquarters.

Captain Bradley and Captain Nylander engaged the gunman with their 9mm pistols wounding him at least once and possibly twice.

With the gunman down, Nylander began helping those who were hurt, but it wasn't over.

The gunman got back up and fired again.

Although seriously wounded and bleeding heavily, Captain Nylander continued to engage the gunman until his 9mm jammed.  He cleared two rounds from his weapon and the final round was found jammed in the chamber.

Because of his bravery, Nylander joins the ranks of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

The chief of staff arrived at Davis-Monthan in the new HC-130J.

Davis-Monthan is the first base to house the new plane, which will be used in rescue missions.

One base official compared the aircraft to the older model it's replacing.

"Increased capability increased reliability less maintenance intensive and it all goes towards our primary mission which is saving people's lives," said Lt. Col. Michael Guischard.

The aircraft can also be used to conduct humanitarian assistance operations and disaster response efforts.