Picture: US Department Of Defense
A video has been released showing an act of heroism that led to the decision to posthumously award the Medal Of Honor after 16 years.
US serviceman, Air Force Technical Sergeant John Chapman will be posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor on 22 August, for his actions during the Battle of Takur Ghar, Afghanistan, in March 2002.
His widow, Valerie Nessel, said: “[John] would want to recognize the other men that lost their lives.
“Even though he did something he was awarded the Medal of Honor for, he would not want the other guys to be forgotten – that they were part of the team together.
“I think he would say that his Medal of Honor was not just for him, but for all of the guys who were lost.”
In total, seven US service members lost their lives during the Battle of Takur Ghar.
The Battle of Takur Ghar
Sgt. John Chapman and his joint special operations colleagues were tasked with establishing a reconnaissance position on Takur Ghar and reporting al-Qaida movement in the Sahi-Kowt area on the night of 3 March.
Rodriguez, Chapman’s commander at the time said: “This was very high profile, no-fail job, and we picked John.
“In a very high-caliber career field, with the highest quality of men – even then – John stood out as our guy.”
During the insertion onto Afghanistan’s Takur Ghar mountaintop on 4 March, the MH-47 “Chinook” helicopter came under heavy fire.
A rocket-propelled grenade struck the helicopter, its blast threw Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Neil Roberts off the ramp of the helicopter onto the enemy-infested mountaintop below.
The severely damaged aircraft was unable to return for Roberts, and performed a controlled crash landing a few miles from the mountaintop.
The remaining joint special operations team members, fully aware of Roberts' precarious situation, began planning a rescue attempt that would see them returning to the top of Takur Ghar.
As the team returned to Roberts’ last-known position, now on a second MH-47, the entrenched enemy forces engaged the approaching helicopter.
Chapman, upon exiting the helicopter, charged uphill toward enemy positions while under heavy fire from three directions.
As the team approached cover, Chapman received fire from two enemy personnel in a fortified position. He returned fire, charged the enemy position and took out the enemy combatants within.
Almost immediately, the team began taking machine gun fire from another fortified enemy position only 12 meters away.
Chapman deliberately moved into the open to engage the new enemy position. As he engaged the enemy, he was hit by a burst of gunfire and became critically injured.
Chapman regained his faculties and continued to fight relentlessly despite his severe wounds. He sustained a violent engagement with multiple enemy fighters, for over an hour through the arrival of the quick reaction force, before succumbing to his wounds. In the performance of these actions, Chapman is credited with saving the lives of his teammates.
Rodriguez said: “John was always selfless – it didn’t just emerge on Takur Ghar – he had always been selfless and highly competent, and thank God for all those qualities.
“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.”
Although Chapman will be awarded the Medal of Honor, family and friends have expressed his humility and how he would react today, if he were here.
Chief Master Sergeant West: “If John were to find out he received the Medal of Honor, he would be very humbled and honoured.
“He was just doing his job, and that’s what he would say at this moment.”