Project Hero: TSGT John Chapman, Air Force Cross Posted by: McQ
on Saturday, April 08, 2006
Today we honor a warrior who made the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan. Air Force Technical Sergeant John Chapman. Chapman was awarded the nation's second higest award for valor: the Air Force Cross. His citation:
The President of the United States Takes Pride in Presenting The Air Force Cross To
John Chapman T/Sergeant, U.S. Air Force
For Services as Set Forth in the Following
Citation: The President of the United States of America, authorized by Title 10, Section 8742, U.S.C., awards the Air Force Cross to TSgt John Chapman for extraordinary heroism in military operation against an armed enemy of the United States as a 24th Special Tactics Squadron, Combat Controller in the vicinity of Gardez, in the eastern highlands of Afghanistan, on 4 March 2002. On this date, during his helicopter insertion for a reconnaissance and time sensitive targeting close air support mission, Sergeant Chapman's aircraft came under heavy machine gun fire and received a direct hit from a rocket propelled grenade which caused a United States Navy sea-air-land team member to fall from the aircraft. Though heavily damaged, the aircraft egressed the area and made an emergency landing seven kilometers away. Once on the ground Sergeant Chapman established communication with an AC-130 gunship to insure the area was secure while providing close air support coverage for the entire team. He then directed the gunship to begin the search for the missing team member. He requested, coordinated, and controlled the helicopter that extracted the stranded team and aircrew members. These actions limited the exposure of the aircrew and team to hostile fire. Without regard for his own life Sergeant Chapman volunteered to rescue his missing team member from an enemy strong hold. Shortly after insertion, the team made contact with the enemy. Sergeant Chapman engaged and killed two enemy personnel. He continued to advance reaching the enemy position then engaged a second enemy position, a dug-in machine gun nest. At this time the rescue team came under effective enemy fire from three directions. From close range he exchanged fire with the enemy from minimum personal cover until he succumbed to multiple wounds. His engagement and destruction of the first enemy position and advancement on the second position enabled his team to move to cover and break enemy contact. In his own words, his Navy sea-air-land team leader credits Sergeant Chapman unequivocally with saving the lives of the entire rescue team. Through his extraordinary heroism, superb airmanship, aggressiveness in the face of the enemy, and the dedication to the service of his country, Sergeant Chapman reflects the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.
We don't often think of members of the Air Force being committed to ground combat, but as TSGT Chapman demonstrates, there are situations which demand just such a committment from various elements, such as Combat Air Controllers. Chapman's team leader credits Chapman's efforts with saving the entire team.
After the award ceremony, Gene Chapman spoke of how his son always called him "ole man," rather than old man. He then told of his last conversation with his son.
"It was March 1, four days before he died. He called, and I heard that, 'Hey ole man,'" Gene Chapman said as his eyes began filling with tears. "I told him 'what are you calling me for? I told you to talk to Val and the kids if you could call.' He said, 'I took care of that. I only have a minute and a half, and I just wanted to hear your voice.' That was the last time I talked with him."
PROJECT HERO is an ongoing attempt to highlight the valor of our military as they fight in both Iraq and Afghanistan. We constantly hear the negative and far to little of the positive and inspiring stories coming out of those countries. This is one small attempt to rectify that. If you know of a story of valor you'd like to see highlighted here (published on Saturday), please contact us. And we'd appreciate your link so we can spread the word.
I am a researcher for Disabled American Veterans, which wishes to include a picture of John Chapman in a article about his heroism in an upcoming issue of its magazine (circulation: about 1 million). Because of the time lag, I have not found any photos of him on official web sites. A good one ran in the March 2003 issue of Airman, but I couldn’t get to it. Does anyone have that photo, or another, they could email to the DAV production manager, Jim Chaney, at firstname.lastname@example.org? Many thanks, Debby