Medal of Honor Recipient John Chapman, Remembered at Camp Cunningham
By Capt. Chelsi Johnson, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
/ Published August 29, 2018
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.