President Trump will posthumously award the Medal of Honor to the family of ??TSgt. John Chapman, shown here in theater. Air Force photo.
TSgt. John Chapman, an Air Force special tactics combat controller killed in Afghanistan in the 2002 Battle of Takur Ghar, will posthumously receive the Medal of Honor, the Air Force announced late Friday.
President Trump will award the medal to Chapman’s family Aug. 22. He will be the first airman to receive the award since the Vietnam War. The Air Force has been the only service to not have a Medal of Honor recipient in the Global War on Terror.
As previously reported, the White House has been considering upgrading Chapman’s Air Force Cross; Chapman will become the 19th airman awarded the Medal of Honor since the Air Force was established in 1947.
During insertion into the Takur Ghar mountaintop, the Chinook helicopter carrying Chapman and his joint special operations reconnaissance team flew into an ambush which significantly damaged the helicopter, throwing Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Neil Roberts into the enemy “hornet’s nest” below, according to the Air Force. After a controlled crash landing, the remaining team members decided to try to rescue Roberts.
During that attempt, Chapman’s team again came under heavy fire, but Chapman charged up the hill through deep snow to assault an enemy position, taking the bunker, clearing the position and killing enemy forces in the position. He then, according to the announcement, “with complete disregard for his own life,” attacked a second bunker from which a machine gun was firing on the rescue team. At that point, the Air Force said, he was struck and temporarily incapacitated.
He nevertheless regained his faculties and kept fighting, sustaining a violent engagement with multiple enemy forces, before losing his life.
“TSgt. John Chapman earned America’s highest military award, the Medal of Honor, for the actions he performed to save fellow Americans on a mountain in Afghanistan more than 16 years ago,” Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said in a statement.
“He will forever be an example of what it means to be one of America’s best and bravest airmen.”
“TSgt. John Chapman fought tenaciously for his nation and his teammates on that hill in Afghanistan,” Air Force Chief of Staff General David Goldfein said in a statement.
“His inspiring story is one of selfless service, courage, perseverance, and honor as he fought side-by-side with his fellow soldiers and sailors against a determined and dug-in enemy. TSgt. Chapman represents all that is good, all that is right, and all that is best in our American airmen.”
“This is a reflection of our commitment to recognizing the heroic actions of our airmen,” said Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright in a statement.
“As Chapman’s story reminds us, we have a sacred duty to honor the actions and sacrifices of all our service members. I share our airmen’s deepest gratitude to the Chapman family, as well as the family members of all those who gave their lives serving our great nation.”