John Chapman was born on 14 July 1965, in Springfield, Massachusetts, and grew up in Windsor Locks, Connecticut. He enlisted in the U.S. Air Force on September 27, 1985, and was trained as an Information Systems Operator.
Chapman's first assignment was with the 1987th Information Systems Squadron at Lowry AFB, Colorado, where he served from February 1986 to June 1989. He then cross-trained into the Combat Control career field and served with the 1721st Combat Control Squadron at Pope AFB, North Carolina, from August 1990 to November 1992. His next assignment was as a Special Tactics Team Member with the 320th Special Tactics Squadron at Kadena AB, Okinawa, from November 1992 to October 1995. Sgt Chapman's final assignment was with the 24th Special Tactics Squadron at Pope AFB, where he served from October 1995 until he was killed in action in the opening days of the War on Terrorism in Afghanistan, on March 4, 2002. He was buried at the St. Mary Byzantine Cemetery in Windber, Pennsylvania.
John married Valerie Novak of Windber, Pennsylvania, on August 22, 1992, and they had two children together, Madison and Brianna. TSgt Chapman was originally awarded the Air Force Cross for his heroism the day he was killed in action, but it was later upgraded to the Medal of Honor on August 22, 2018. He was posthumously promoted to Master Sergeant the next day, on August 23, 2018.
Born in 1944 in Piqua, Ohio, William H. Pitsenbarger was an ambitious only child. He wanted to quit high school to join the U.S. Army Special Forces' "Green Berets," but his parents convinced him to stay in school. After graduating in 1962, Pitsenbarger joined the Air Force.
A1C Pitsenbarger learned his military skills in a series of demanding schools. After Air Force basic training, he volunteered for pararescue work and embarked on a rigorous training program, which included U.S. Army parachute school, survival school, a rescue and survival medical course, and the U.S. Navy's scuba diving school. More Air Force rescue training and jungle survival school followed. His final training was in air crash rescue and firefighting, with assignment to the HH-43 Huskie helicopter.
Arriving in Vietnam in August 1965, Pitsenbarger completed more than 250 missions, including one in which he hung from an HH-43's cable to rescue a wounded South Vietnamese soldier from a burning minefield. This action earned him the Airman's Medal and the Republic of Vietnam's Medal of Military Merit and Gallantry Cross with Bronze Palm.
William H. Pitsenbarger was only 21 years old when he was killed in action. But in his short life and valorous Air Force career, he was an example of dedication, compassion and tenacity for all those with whom he served. In his work, and especially on his final mission, Airman 1st Class Pitsenbarger embodied the pararescueman's motto: "That Others May Live."
Robert Gutierrez was born in San Diego, California, and grew up in Chula Vista, California. He enlisted in the U.S. Air Force on August 13, 2002, and completed basic training at Lackland AFB, Texas, in September 2002. A1C Gutierrez next attended Combat Control Team training at Lackland AFB (Combat Control Orientation Course); Keesler AFB, Mississippi (Combat Control Operator Course); Fort Benning, Georgia (U.S. Army Airborne School); Fairchild AFB, Washington (U.S. Air Force Basic Survival School); Pope AFB, North Carolina (Combat Control School); Hurlburt Field, Florida (Special Tactics Advanced Skills Training); Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and Yuma Proving Grounds, Arizona (U.S. Army Military Freefall Parachutist School); and Panama City, Florida (U.S. Air Force Combat Divers School) between September 2002 and July 2005.
His first assignment was as a Combat Control Team member with the 321st Special Tactics Squadron of the 352nd Special Operations Group at RAF Mildenhall, England, from July 2005 until he was badly wounded during combat operations in Afghanistan in October 2009.
After recovering from his injuries, TSgt Gutierrez became an instructor at the Air Force Special Operations Training Center at Hurlburt Field in March 2011, and served there until he left active duty and joined the Oregon Air National Guard on November 9, 2012.
He served with the 125th Special Tactics Squadron of the Oregon Air National Guard in Portland, Oregon, until returning to active duty in the Air Force in April 2014. His next assignment was as a Flight Chief and Combat Controller at Cannon AFB, New Mexico, from April 2014 to December 2015, followed by service as Standards and Evaluations Lead for all Combat Control Training within the Battlefield Airmen Training Group at the 37th Training Wing at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, from January 2016 to June 2018. He then served in Programs and Plans with the 37th Training Wing from June 2018 to November 2019, and as Group Superintendent with the U.S. Air Force Special Warfare Human Performance Group from December 2019 to April 2021. CMSgt Gutierrez has been serving as Force Development Manager for all 1Z2 Special Warfare Operators within Air Education and Training Command at Randolph AFB, Texas, since April 2021.