MACHESNEY PARK, Ill. (WTVO) — Keith McDonald says he will never forget his nephew, Cpl. Nathan Carlson, who died last year in a military training exercise. Now, signs have gone up along Route 173 in Carlson’s honor.
Carlson, 21, was one of five Marines killed in June 2022 when a military Osprey aircraft crashed during a training exercise in California.
“He has always been a strong kid,” said McDonald. “He’s been very strong-minded. If he decides he’s going to do something, he’ll do it. If he made a choice, he stuck with it.”
Carlson graduated from Harlem High School in 2019 and was captain of the swim team. He joined the Marines that year.
In 2020, he earned his wings and became an aircrewman.
“This would be a very fitting way to memorialize Nathan, to get his name up there,” McDonald said of the new marker. “This way is high visibility. 173 is so terrifically trafficked. We hope it inspires somebody to take a look at his name and Google, you know, who is Nathan Carlson and to see more of the story.”
Rockford’s Memorial Day Parade this year was dedicated to Carlson’s memory.
While McDonald said losing his nephew is a tragedy, he has been amazed by the outpouring of respect and care from the community.