Three months ago, Chattanooga Police Officer Nathan Rogers was on patrol.  He was chasing a suspect through the woods and fell.  He was slow getting up, and didn’t feel quite right.  He noticed a tingle, some numbness in his right side.  This Marine, 30 years old and strong as a bull, just shook it off.  The one-time president of his Police Academy class was now a seasoned veteran, a mentor to younger officers.  Pain is part of the job. Maybe it was just a pinched nerve. 

Sadly, the pain didn’t go away.  It got worse.  His steps were unsure, his speech became slurred.  He knew, his partners knew, he wasn’t up to the job.  In a matter of weeks, this strapping six-footer had gone from one of the city’s fittest cops to a man who needed help getting around the house.  He didn’t want to leave his job, but he knew he had to.  His wife Sarah said, “He knew it was best for his own safety, as well as that of his fellow officers and the public.”

The early diagnosis was hopeful. Sarah said, “We did X-rays, MRI’s, EKG’s, CT scans, you name it."  She was afraid he was having strokes, but there was no evidence of that.  Eventually, an MRI revealed a spot on his brain, but it had shrunk within a week.  “They didn’t find anything serious,” she said, “so we thought it would just fade away.”  But when it didn’t, and his mobility declined even further, doctors at Vanderbilt Medical Center performed a brain biopsy.  The new diagnosis: a form of brain cancer,  glioblastoma, Grade 3.  Surgery was not the preferred option.  Instead, there would be immediate, aggressive treatment that would include eight weeks of chemotherapy and radiation.

A battle-tested combat veteran of two tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, Nathan Rogers finds comfort in the fellow Marines who surround him to this day.  CPD Officer Curtis Roth is one of them.   Like Nathan, he has pulled many an all-nighter on the streets of East Lake and Brainerd.  “We’ve got his back,” Roth said.  “Nathan would die for you.  Among our officers, he was strongest, and most active.  He’s a Marine’s Marine.”

Fellow Officer Jeremiah Cook remembers being a rookie patrolman who was in awe of his colleague’s bravery.  “When other people run away from danger, Nathan is running toward the danger.  Somebody has to do it.  I saw him do that several times.”

Nathan’s days are unlike any he has lived before.  Accustomed to being on the front lines at home and abroad, he now spends most of his time fending off exhaustion from the daily radiation treatments.  Every other day, he’s at Siskin Rehabilitation Center, undergoing speech, physical and occupational therapy.  When that’s over, he’s content to watch Braves games and other sporting events on TV.  He also appreciates his visitors from the police department and Calvary Baptist Church in Red Bank, where he and his family are members.

Faith plays a big role in the family’s lives.  Sarah said, “We’re just taking it one day at a time.  We know God will provide for us.”  Nathan’s parents are David and Janice Rogers, both longtime Hamilton County educators.  David told me, “Nathan has always been such a great son, he’s always loved his family, has a big heart, and has always served his country with duty, honor, and respect. ” He speaks with pride of his son’s four years as a heavy machine gunner in the Marines, ending his active duty in the summer of 2006.

Fellow Marine and CPD Officer Curtis Roth summed it up beautifully.  “Nathan’s life has always been about service, overseas and here at home.  It’s all he’s ever known.  Now it’s our turn to serve him.  This community needs to rally around him.  With a lot of prayer and support, and lot of fighting on Nathan’s part, I have no doubt.  He’ll be back.”

Contact David Carroll at  For more information and photos of Officer Nathan Rogers go to

The Chattanooga Police Department is hosting a fund-raising Pancake Breakfast this Saturday, June 28 from 8:00 until 10:00 a.m. at Applebee’s on Shallowford Village Road near Hamilton Place.   A fund-raising website has been established at