John Chapman enlisted in the Air Force on 27 September 1985, and cross-trained as an Air Force Combat Controller four years later.
Chapman would rise to the rank of Master Sergeant and earn the Medal of Honor for saving the lives of his teammates during the Battle of Takur Ghar.
During Operation Anaconda in March 2002, small reconnaissance teams were tasked to establish observation posts in strategic locations in Afghanistan and direct U.S. air power to destroy enemy targets. During the initial insertion onto Afghanistan’s Takur Ghar mountaintop on March 4, the MH-47 “Chinook” helicopter carrying Chapman and the joint special operations reconnaissance team was ambushed, throwing Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Neil Roberts off the ramp of the helicopter onto the enemy-infested mountaintop below.
During the attempt to rescue the downed SEAL, Chapman exited the rescue helicopter and immediately charged uphill through the snow toward enemy positions while under heavy fire from three directions. Receiving fire from two enemy personnel in a fortified position, Chapman returned fire, charged the enemy position, and killed the enemy combatants.
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 struck by a burst of gunfire and became critically injured. Chapman continued to fight relentlessly for over an hour, despite his severe wounds and sustained violent engagements with multiple enemy fighters, before making the ultimate sacrifice.