President Donald Trump will award the Medal of Honor to the family of fallen Technical Sergeant John A. Chapman of the United States Air Force, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2002, the White House announced Friday.
Trump will present the prestigious medal during a White House ceremony on August 22, where Chapman’s wife, Valerie Nessel will receive the medal in his honor.
Chapman is the first airman to receive the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest award for valor, since the Vietnam War. According to the White House, Chapman is being honored for his heroic actions on March 4, 2002 on the Takur Gar mountain in Afghanistan.
In a battle with al-Qaeda on a snowy mountaintop, Chapman sacrificed his life to protect his teammates after coming under enemy fire during a rescue attempt. Chapman continually distinguished himself on the battlefield through “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity” according to the U.S Air Force.
Chapman was part of a joint special operations team deployed to Afghanistan in 2002 where a helicopter carried Chapman and his team into an enemy ambush. The enemy fired rocket-propelled grenades at the team, hitting the aircraft and forcing a controlled crash into the valley below. The team members voluntarily chose to fly back to the snowy mountaintop, attempting to rescue Roberts, a stranded teammate who was ejected from the helicopter.
Once back on the mountain, Chapman and his teammates received heavy enemy fire. Despite the risk, Chapman charged uphill through “thigh-deep” snow, into a known enemy stronghold to fight.
Chapman seized an enemy bunker, killing all enemy fighters occupying it. The airman then chose to move to a second enemy bunker who was firing a machine gun at his team, leaving coverage.
During this bold and heroic attack, Chapman was struck and temporarily slowed down. However, he continued to fight relentlessly for his teammates before paying the ultimate sacrifice, according to the White House.
Chapman is credited with saving the lives of his teammates. Air Force Chief of Staff, General David L. Goldfein calls the selfless hero, “inspiring.”
Tech. Sgt. John Chapman fought tenaciously for his nation and his teammates on that hill in Afghanistan,” said Air Force Chief of Staff General David L. Goldfein. “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. Tech. Sgt. Chapman represents all that is good, all that is right, and all that is best in our American Airmen.”