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Nathaniel H. McDavitt, airman from Glen Burnie, assured parents he was safe in fight against ISIS

Glen Burnie airman Nathaniel H. McDavitt assured parents he was safe in fight against ISIS

Airman 1st Class Nathaniel H. McDavitt called his parents shortly after he arrived in the Middle East this month to join the fight against the self-declared Islamic State.

The Glen Burnie man, a 2011 graduate of Severna Park High School, had been deployed to Jordan to work on aircraft engines.

He assured his mother and father that he was safe.

Within days, his parents received another call. Extreme winds had caused the building in which McDavitt was working to collapse. McDavitt was in the hospital.

McDavitt's parents and wife flew to Jordan. They sat with the unconscious 22-year-old before he died April 15.

"I am just so thankful for that time," said his mother, Jeanette Middleton-Sudano.

McDavitt is the 15th U.S. service member to die in the nearly two-year-old fight against ISIS, and the first from Maryland.

The last Maryland service member killed overseas was Sgt. Maj. Wardell Turner of Nanticoke, who died in a bomb attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 2014.

Air Force Maj. David Marce, commander of the 52nd Equipment Maintenance Squadron, called McDavitt a hard worker who excelled as a crew chief. He was recognized as the squadron's top airman last year for his work on F-16s.

"Nate was not only a great Airman, but he was a great person who always had a smile on his face," Marce said in a statement. "We share in the sorrow felt by his loved ones, and we will never forget the valuable contributions he made to our country and the impact he has left on our unit."

McDavitt played football and basketball at Severna Park, his father said, and was an Eagle Scout with Troop 855. Phillip McDavitt said his son spent summers in middle school and high school working on tractor-trailers in his family's business, Middleton & Meads Co., in South Baltimore.

McDavitt said his son was a natural at working on engines.

"He loved it," he said. "He wanted to work on fighter jets. They had to chase him out of the shop."

Nathaniel McDavitt was working toward an associate's degree in finance but planned to make his career in the Air Force.

McDavitt's parents encouraged him to pursue another career — "for obvious reasons," his father said. "You could get hurt."

But they said their son told them, "I want to get in the fight. I want to do my part."

McDavitt completed basic training at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in Texas in 2014, and was assigned to the 52nd Equipment Maintenance Squadron at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany.

McDavitt's father said his son was working in a hangar made of aluminum braces and heavy fabric when it partially collapsed. Air Force officials told him medics responded quickly and were able to resuscitate his son.

McDavitt's family rushed to his side. They were shown the building in which he was injured and spent several days at the hospital.

They spoke to him, but he never responded.

Middleton-Sudano told her son her memory of a hike to Old Rag Mountain in Virginia with his Boy Scout troop.

It was a practice hike, and she told her son he needed to remember to bring weight to carry in his backpack. She spoke of how the scoutmaster laughed when he found the boy carrying jugs of bleach.

"I believe he could hear me," Middleton-Sudano said.

McDavitt was married in December. His wife, Alexis Miller, is serving with the Air Force in Florida. His parents said the couple planned to start a family.

McDavitt loved hunting, camping and fishing. During a recent trip, his father said, McDavitt caught their breakfast each morning.

"Every day we had trout," he said. "He could catch anything."

As a child, McDavitt went with his mother to Rome to see the pope. During his deployment in Germany, his family said, he was enjoying traveling around Europe on weekends.

"In 23 years he's done a lot," his father said. "After thinking about it for a couple days, I just came to the conclusion he's such a good kid. God wanted him and took him."

Public viewings are scheduled for 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Barranco & Sons, 495 Ritchie Highway in Severna Park.

A Mass of Christian Burial is to be celebrated at 10 a.m. Monday at St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church, 689 Ritchie Highway, Severna Park. Interment is to follow at the Crownsville Veterans Cemetery.

Gov. Larry Hogan has ordered the Maryland flag lowered to half-staff Monday.

jkanderson@baltsun.com

twitter.com/janders5

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