Goodfellow honors Master Sgt. John Chapman’s memory

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Joshua Edwards
  • 17th Training Wing Public Affairs

Goodfellow service members came together to honor Master Sgt. John Chapman, combat controller, with several events from Aug. 22 to 24.

Chapman sacrificed his own life to preserve the lives of his teammates during the Battle of Takur Ghar, Afghanistan, on March 4, 2002. He was posthumously award the Medal of Honor and promoted to master sergeant.

Goodfellow hosted several viewing forums for his White House Medal of Honor Ceremony, Pentagon Hall of Heroes Induction Ceremony and Air Force Memorial Medal of Honor Unveiling Ceremony.

“We are gathered together this afternoon to pay tribute to a fallen warrior; a great warrior,” said President Donald Trump during the White House Medal of Honor Ceremony.

“John gave his life for his fellow warriors. Through his extraordinary sacrifice, John saved more than 20 American service members, some of whom are here today.”

The base also hosted a Chapman inspired CrossFit workout and a moment of silence followed by the Airmen’s Creed.

“What Sergeant Chapman did epitomizes the last stanza of Airmen’s Creed: I will never leave an Airman behind, I will not falter and I will not fail,” said Chief Master Sgt. Jason Funkhauser, 315th Training Squadron chief enlisted manager. “We are out here to pay tribute to what Sergeant Chapman did for his team, and what all Airmen should do.”

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.

He is the first Airman to receive the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War.

During the initial insertion onto Afghanistan’s Takur Ghar mountaintop on March 4, 2012, the MH-47 Chinook helicopter carrying Chapman and the joint special operations reconnaissance team was ambushed.

Thus began the chain of events that led to unparalleled acts of valor by numerous joint special operations forces, the deaths of seven U.S. servicemen and now, 16 years later, the posthumous award of the Medal of Honor to Chapman.

While on a rescue mission to retrieve a service member who had fallen out of the damaged MH-47 Chinook, Chapman and the special forces team received heavy machine gun fire. Chapman deliberately moved into the open to engage when he was struck by a burst of gunfire and became critically injured.

Chapman regained his faculties and continued to fight despite his severe wounds. He sustained a violent engagement with multiple enemy fighters for over an hour before paying the ultimate sacrifice. Due to his remarkably heroic actions, Chapman is credited with saving the lives of his teammates.

“John was always selfless – it didn’t just emerge at Takur Ghar – he had always been selfless and highly competent, and thank God for all those qualities,” retired Col. Ken Rodriguez, Chapman’s commander at the time of the battle, said in a previous interview. “He could have hunkered down in the bunker and waited for the (Quick Reaction Force) and (Combat Search and Rescue) team to come in, but he assessed the situation and selflessly gave his life for them.”