By Staff Sgt. Alexandra M. Longfellow | 21st Space Wing Public Affairs
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Members of the Peterson Air Force Base community witnessed the Medal of Honor dedication ceremony for Master Sgt. John A. Chapman, U.S. Air Force combat controller, on Monday, May 20, 2019.
Chapman was posthumously awarded the Air Force Cross for his actions in the Battle of Takur Ghar during Operation Enduring Freedom in the war in Afghanistan. He was the first Air Force combat controller to earn the Air Force Cross in any war in history.
Chapman’s Air Force Cross was upgraded to the Medal of Honor on August 22, 2018 from his actions during Operation Anaconda on March 4, 2002. Chapman was the first Airman to receive the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War.
“Master Sgt. Chapman answered his nation’s call in 1985, 16 full years before the attack on our country in 2001,” said Col. Todd Moore, 21st Space Wing commander. “His final assignment was with the 24th Special Tactics Squadron at Pope Air Force Base, North Carolina.”
Chapman, along with members of the U.S. Navy SEALs, took part in the operation. Their helicopter came under enemy fire, causing a team member to fall out during an insertion. Chapman provided directions to another helicopter to pick them up.
After being rescued, Chapman and his team volunteered to go back and rescue their team member from the enemy stronghold. Chapman killed two enemy soldiers, exchanged fire from minimum personal cover and succumbed to multiple wounds.
He is credited with saving the lives of the entire rescue team.
The Medal of Honor plaque was unveiled acknowledging his honor and has been placed at the Peterson Air and Space Museum Memorial.
“Today, with this small gesture, placing this small plaque on our memorial, we will not fail to honor our Airman,” said Moore. “We will not leave his memory behind.”
Chapman is survived by his mother, Terry Chapman; his widow, Valerie Nessel; and two daughters, Brianna and Madison Chapman.