Technical Sergeant John A. Chapman distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism as an Air Force Special Tactics Combat Controller, attached to a Navy Sea, Air, and Land (SEAL) Team conducting reconnaissance operations in Takur Ghar, Afghanistan, on March 4, 2002. During insertion, the team’s helicopter was ambushed causing a teammate to fall into an entrenched group of enemy combatants below. Sergeant Chapman and the team voluntarily reinserted onto the snow-capped mountain, into the heart of a known enemy stronghold to rescue one of their own. Without regard for his own safety, Sergeant Chapman immediately engaged, moving in the direction of the closest enemy position despite coming under heavy fire from multiple directions. He fearlessly charged an enemy bunker, up a steep incline in thigh-deep snow and into hostile fire, directly engaging the enemy. Upon reaching the bunker, Sergeant Chapman assaulted and cleared the position, killing all enemy occupants. With complete disregard for his own life, Sergeant Chapman deliberately moved from cover only 12 meters from the enemy, and exposed himself once again to attack a second bunker, from which an emplaced machine gun was firing on his team. During this assault from an exposed position directly in the line of intense fire, Sergeant Chapman was struck and injured by enemy fire. Despite severe, mortal wounds, he continued to fight relentlessly, sustaining a violent engagement with multiple enemy personnel before making the ultimate sacrifice. By his heroic actions and extraordinary valor, sacrificing his life for the lives of his teammates, Technical Sergeant Chapman upheld the highest traditions of military service and reflected great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.
One note about the "we left him behind" whispers. I know MG Harrell, USA (Ret.). I stand with him;
An integral part of the acts of valor review in Chapman’s case, was viewing drone footage that showed the airman unconscious but alive, when his fellow service members thought he was dead. The footage showed him waking up, continuing to fight and thwart the grenade attacks on the Ranger helicopter.
The New York Times first reported this finding in August 2016. The newspaper also reported that many military officials felt the mission was poorly executed.
Maj. Gen. Gary Harrell, a retired Delta Force commander who managed the operation, told the newspaper that those who weren’t there shouldn’t second-guess.
“It’s easy to say, ‘Well, I’d never leave someone behind,’” he told The Times. “It’s a lot harder when you’re getting your ass shot off.”