Medal of Honor Recipient John Chapman, Remembered at Camp Cunningham

MoH Recipient John Chapman, Remembered at Camp Cunningham

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – Personnel from Bagram Airfield and the Special Operations community gathered at the Memorial Courtyard at Camp Cunningham to recognize Medal of Honor recipient, U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. John A. Chapman. During the Medal of Honor commemoration ceremony, Airman from the 26th Expeditionary Special Tactics Squadron (ESTS) remembered the courage and valor Chapman displayed high on a mountaintop in the eastern highlands of Afghanistan, approximately 130 miles from Bagram Airfield. “He died on that mountain top, not in vain but while rescuing a teammate and protecting a helicopter full of men he had never met,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Chaz, a special tactics airman deployed to Bagram. “John Chapman died as he said in high school, ‘putting others ahead of himself,’ and was a living and breathing example of the Special Tactics motto, ‘First There….That Others May Live’.” For his heroic actions during the Battle of Takur Ghar, Chapman was posthumously awarded the Air Force Cross on January 10, 2003, and last Wednesday, President Trump presented the Medal of Honor to Chapman’s widow, Valerie Nessel, in a White House ceremony. “Master Sgt. Chapman’s actions on Takur Ghar Mountain were extraordinary,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Buck Elton, Special Operations Joint Task Force-Afghanistan and NATO Special Operations Component Command-Afghanistan commanding general. “Advances in technology and years of hard work by many Special Tactics Airmen have allowed us to more fully understand the brutal battle. We can now see how Chappy bravely attacked al-Qaeda, continued to fight after being wounded and ultimately died protecting his teammates.” Chapman, who “distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism” is the first Special Tactics Airman to be awarded the Medal of Honor and the first Airman since the Vietnam War to receive the nation’s highest award for valor. “His courage, skill and willingness to give his life so that others may live have long-earned the deep respect of joint special operations forces,” said Elton. “We are grateful and proud President Trump awarded him the Medal of Honor and presented it to his wife and daughters.” With a backdrop of a mural painted to forever immortalize Chapman’s legacy, the ceremony concluded with the 26th Expeditionary Special Tactics Squadron leading the crowd in memorial push-ups as they paid tribute to a fallen warrior, an Airman and an American Hero. Established in 2009, U.S. Forces-Afghanistan is a U.S.-led mission that directs and enables U.S. military operations in support of Resolute Support, NATO’s train, advise and assist mission. Its purpose is to sustain campaign momentum in Afghanistan. It is also tasked with executing responsibilities and oversight for manpower, material and logistics, basing and operational movement in the country, supporting a responsible economic transition that encourages a resilient Afghan economy. BAGRAM AIRFIELD, AFGHANISTAN 08.29.2018 Story by Capt. Chelsi Johnson  455th Air Expeditionary Wing   //ENDS// This story is embedded from DVIDS

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Medal of Honor presented to TSgt John Chapman’s family

Medal of Honor presented to TSgt John Chapman’s family

WASHINGTON (AFNS) — On what would have been their 26th wedding anniversary, Tech. Sgt. John Chapman’s widow, Valerie Nessel, accepted his Medal of Honor from President Donald Trump during a ceremony at the White House Aug. 22. “We are gathered together this afternoon to pay tribute to a fallen warrior, a great warrior…and to award him with our nation’s highest and most revered military honor,” Trump said. Fighting in the early morning hours through brisk air and deep snow, Chapman sacrificed his own life to preserve the lives of his teammates during the Battle of Taku Ghar, Afghanistan, on March 4, 2002. “[John] would want to recognize the other men who lost their lives,” Valerie said in a previous interview. “Even though he did something he was awarded the Medal of Honor for, he would not want the other guys to be forgotten – they were part of the team together. I think he would say his Medal of Honor was not just for him, but for all of the guys who were lost.” Chapman was originally awarded the Air Force Cross for his actions; however, following a review of the Air Force Cross and Silver Star recipients directed by then-Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, Deborah James, then-Secretary of the Air Force, recommended Chapman’s Air Force Cross be upgraded to the Medal of Honor. “John was always selfless – it didn’t just emerge at Taku Ghar – he had always been selfless and highly competent, and thank God for all those qualities,” retired Air Force Col. Ken Rodriguez, Chapman’s commander at the time of the battle, said in a previous interview. “He could have hunkered down in the bunker and waited for the (Quick Reaction Force) and (Combat Search and Rescue) team to come in, but he assessed the situation and selflessly gave his life for them.” Chapman enlisted in the Air Force Sept. 27, 1985, as an information systems operator, but felt called to be part of Air Force special operations. In 1989, he cross-trained to become an Air Force combat controller. According to friends and family, Chapman had a tendency to make the difficult look effortless and consistently sought new challenges. Dating back to his high school days, he made the varsity soccer squad as a freshman. In his high school yearbook, Chapman quoted these words: “Give of yourself before taking of someone else.” Chapman looked for a new challenge, which he found in combat control. This special operations training is more than two years long and amongst the most rigorous in the U.S. military; only about one in 10 Airmen who start the program graduate. From months of intense training to multiple joint schools – including military SCUBA, Army static-line and freefall, air traffic control, and combat control schools – Chapman is remembered as someone who could overcome any adversity. “One remembers two types of students – the sharp ones and the really dull ones – and Chapman was in the sharp category,” said Ron Childress, a former Combat Control School instructor. “During one of his first days at Combat Control School, I noticed a slight smirk on his face like [the training] was too simple for him…and it was.” Following Combat Control School, Chapman served with the 1721st Combat Control Squadron at Pope Air Force Base, North Carolina, where he met Valerie in 1992. They had two daughters, who were the center of Chapman’s world even when he was away from home – which was common in special operations. “He would come home from a long trip and immediately have on his father hat – feeding, bathing, reading and getting his girls ready for bed,” said Chief Master Sgt. Michael West, who served with Chapman through Combat Control School, a three-year tour in Okinawa, Japan, and at Pope AFB. “They were his life and he was proud of them. To the Air Force he was a great hero…what I saw was a great father.” The Battle of Takur Ghar In conjunction with Operation Anaconda in March 2002, small reconnaissance teams were tasked to establish observation posts in strategic locations in Afghanistan, and when able, direct U.S. airpower to destroy enemy targets. The mountain of Takur Ghar was an ideal spot for such an observation post, with excellent visibility to key locations. For Chapman and his joint special operations teammates, the mission on the night of March 3 was to establish a reconnaissance position on Takur Ghar and report al-Qaida movement in the Sahi-Kowt area. “This was a very high profile, no-fail job, and we picked John,” said retired Air Force Col. Ken Rodriguez, Chapman’s commander at the time. “In a very high-caliber career field, with the highest quality of men – even then – John stood out as our guy.” During the initial insertion onto Afghanistan’s Takur[…]

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Airman killed at Roberts Ridge to receive Medal of Honor, report says

  FROM STARS & STRIPES By JAMES BOLINGER A combat controller killed in action in Afghanistan in 2002 is set to become the first airman awarded the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War, according to a national security news site. Tech. Sgt. John Chapman will be awarded the medal posthumously later this year, Task & Purpose reported Friday, citing “sources familiar with the matter.” Air Force officials told Stars and Stripes Monday that they could not confirm the report. “Chappy,” as his teammates knew him, was one of two airmen awarded the Air Force Cross, the service’s second-highest honor, for actions during the Battle of Roberts Ridge against al-Qaida fighters on a mountainside above Afghanistan’s Shah-i-Kot Valley on March 4, 2002. The other was Senior Airman Jason Cunningham, a pararescueman. In 2005, the Navy named a cargo ship after Chapman, who fought alongside a SEAL team during the battle. His award upgrade is based on analysis of video captured by a Predator drone and an AC-130 gunship over the battlefield, the Task & Purpose report said. Chapman’s Air Force Cross citation says he died while engaging an enemy machine gun; however, the aerial footage suggests he fought on, killing one enemy with a gunshot and another in hand-to-hand combat, the report said. When a quick reaction force of 35 Army Rangers arrived in helicopters, Chapman emerged from a bunker to provide cover fire before being gunned down by the enemy. Chapman’s family was told in March that his award had been upgraded to the Medal of Honor, the website reported. //ENDS// For more Battlefield Airmen stories like this on Specialtactics.com, click HERE

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