Battle of Robert’s Ridge – Tech Sgt John Chapman to Receive Medal of Honor

 In Military

Air Force Tech Sgt John Chapman was an Air Force Combat Controller. The White House announced that on August 22, he will posthumously receive the Medal of Honor for continuously firing at the enemy in an effort to save his teammates. He will be the first Airman to receive the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War.

Battle of Robert’s Ridge

On March 4, 2002, Chapman and 5 Navy SEALS were inserted onto a mountain called Takur Ghar in Afghanistan to provide reconnaissance for “Operation Anaconda.” When their helicopter was hit with an RPG, one of their teammates was ejected. They all voluntarily returned to the mountain in order to find him.

What followed became a battle for survival and a huge weight of guilt for the team members: when Tech Sgt Chapman was severely wounded, they thought he was dead and left him behind. But he wasn’t dead at the time, only unconscious.

The complicated situation is one we wrote about when Retired Navy SEAL Britt Slabinski  received the Medal of Honor in May, 2018.

The Air Force used enhanced video from a Predator drone to learn that Tech Sgt Chapman was not dead, but merely unconscious when his teammates withdrew from the mountain under heavy fire.

The Air Force Times reported,

On March 4, 2002, during a helicopter insertion, Chapman’s aircraft came under heavy enemy fire and was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade, according to the White House. One teammate was ejected from the aircraft, and the crippled helicopter crash landed in the valley below…

Chapman and the remaining joint special operations team members voluntarily returned to the snow-capped mountain, into the heart of a known enemy stronghold, in an attempt to rescue their stranded teammate, according to the White House. Chapman charged into enemy fire through harrowing conditions, seized an enemy bunker, and killed its enemy occupants…

He then moved from cover to engage a machine gun firing on his team from a second bunker. While engaging this position, he was severely wounded by enemy gunfire. Despite severe wounds, he continued to fight relentlessly, sustaining a violent engagement with multiple enemy personnel before paying the ultimate sacrifice, according to the White House….

We can “armchair quarterback” the team’s actions, or we can simply say that it’s a good thing that Tech Sgt Chapman’s Air Force Cross is being upgraded.

“Tech. Sgt. John Chapman fought tenaciously for his nation and his teammates on that hill in Afghanistan. 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.”Air Force Chief of Staff General Dave Goldfein

Rest In Peace, Sgt. Chapman.

  • Steve Bender

    A true hero! One man who believed in the mission, and was not afraid to go back to rescue a teammate.

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