Fallen Air Force MOH Recipient Joins Pentagon’s Hall of Heroes

  • Published
  • By Air Force Staff Sgt. Victoria H. Taylor, Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

Chapman, John A., Technical Sergeant, USAF” is now permanently inscribed in the Hall of Heroes at the Pentagon following an induction ceremony yesterday.

Nearly two decades after the gallant actions that cost him his life and earned him the nation's highest military award, Chapman’s name was unveiled by his widow, Valerie Nessel, Secretary of the Air Force Heather A. Wilson, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright.

“Our nation endures and continues to be the land of the free because of brave men and women -- because of John Chapman,” Wilson said.

Chapman’s name is now memorialized on the walls inside the Hall of Heroes among fellow service members who have been recognized for combat valor.

“It’s a story that will be told and retold for generations. The ‘John Chapman story’ joins the ranks of other legends like John Levitow and Bud Day,” Goldfein said.

Goldfein described the fallen Chapman as an “incredible warrior who inspires all of us to be better airmen.”

Nessel accepted Chapman’s Medal of Honor from President Donald J. Trump during a ceremony at the White House, Aug. 22.

Courageous Actions in Afghanistan

Chapman was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for actions on Takur Ghar mountain in Afghanistan, March 4, 2002. An elite special operations team was ambushed by the enemy and came under heavy fire from multiple directions. Chapman immediately charged an enemy bunker through thigh-deep snow and killed all enemy occupants.

Chapman then moved from cover to assault a second machine-gun bunker, and he was injured by enemy fire. Despite severe wounds, he fought relentlessly, sustaining a violent engagement with multiple enemy personnel before making the ultimate sacrifice. With his last actions he saved the lives of his teammates.

Chapman was originally awarded the Air Force Cross for his actions; however, following a review of the Air Force Cross and Silver Star recipients directed by then-Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, Deborah James, then-Secretary of the Air Force, recommended Chapman’s Air Force Cross be upgraded to the Medal of Honor.

Chapman is the first airman since the Vietnam War to receive the Medal of Honor.

“Those who knew him knew of his devotion of helping others. He would give anything in his power to help someone,” Wright said.

He added, “John died exactly the way he lived -- doing anything in his power he could to help those in need.”

Following remarks made by Air Force leaders, Chapman’s family was presented with a memorial plaque and the Medal of Honor flag.

“I could go on and tell you all kinds of stories about John, but I don’t have to. I think you already know what he was like,” said his mother, Terry Chapman. “I’m ever so grateful to those who made this possible -- I can’t tell you how much it means to me and my family.”

In accordance with Air Force policy whereby Medal of Honor recipients are automatically promoted one grade on the first day of the month following the award, Chapman will be posthumously promoted to the rank of master sergeant on Sept. 1.

Secretary of the Air Force Heather A. Wilson, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright present the Medal of Honor flag to Valerie Nessel, widow of Medal of Honor recipient Air Force Tech. Sgt. John Chapman, during Chapman’s Hall of Heroes induction ceremony at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., Aug. 23, 2018. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Rusty Frank