after graduation from high school in 1990, Chris embarked on a journey of
volunteerism and service to others that would not only define his life but
become his true calling. His first step along this path was his enlistment in
the Army as an Infantryman on July 24, 1990. After the completion of his
initial training he was assigned to Headquarters Company, 1st
Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment in Fort Lewis, Washington where he
served as an Infantryman and Scout Squad Leader.
his time at Ft. Lewis, Chris transferred from Active Duty to the Washington
State National Guard. After successful completion of the Special Forces
Assessment and Selection Course and Special Forces Qualification Course, Chris
was assigned to 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne). During this time, Chris served as a Senior
Weapons Sergeant with one deployment to the Philippines in support of
contingency operations and two deployments to Iraq in support of combat
serving in the Guard as a Green Beret, Chris also pursued a career of civil
service, which led him to be a Firefighter with the Issaquah Fire Department in
1997, which later became Eastside Fire & Rescue. During his 10 years of service with the
department, Chris applied himself 100% to everything he did. His easy going and
humble demeaner earned him the respect and confidence of the firefighters and
officers. You knew Chris always had your back. Chris cared, he would give his
best effort to help the sick, the injured, or those who relied on him to help
them on what could possibly be the worst day of their lives. He applied the
same effort to help the people he worked with. His leadership and counsel
helped many grow personally and professionally.
November of 2007, Chris decided to transition from the Army National Guard to
Active Duty and was assigned to the United States Special Operations Command
(SOCOM). Over the past 11 years, Chris has served selflessly at every level
between team member to Sergeant Major and deployed various areas of conflict
spanning the Middle East, Africa, and Central Asia.
decade of service in SOCOM was marked by exceptional performance in every
endeavor. He always led from the front regardless of the task or circumstance,
a fact that is reflected in his combat service record which includes multiple
awards for Valor, a Soldier’s Medal, a Legion of Merit, and two Silver Stars
for Gallantry. His commitment to his teammates, his unit, and this nation was
unwavering and his loss will be felt across the special operations community.
1995, Chris married the love of his life, Stephanie. Together, Chris and
Stephanie have two beautiful children Haley (16) and Nolan (15). Chris was a
loving and devoted husband and father.
In his 46 years with us, Chris lived a fuller, more
meaningful, and more impactful life than most who have walked this earth. He
exemplified true service to his family, his mates, and his country daily from
beginning to end. He enjoyed all the simple pleasures in life with his family
and had a truly uncanny ability to reach everyone in a deep and positive way.
Chris lived life boldly and fearlessly, with integrity and courage rooted deep
in his faith. Sergeant Major Christopher A. Nelms will be forever missed but