JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas --
The late Master Sgt. John Chapman was honored during a plaque unveiling ceremony, hosted by members of the Special Warfare Training Wing at Airmen’s Heritage Park here March 4, 2021.
Chapman was a combat controller who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor Aug. 22, 2018, for his actions in the Battle of Takur Ghar during the War in Afghanistan. He is the first Airman to receive the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War.
“John was ready to fight for his nation and he made the ultimate sacrifice for his teammates,” Lt. Gen. Brad Webb, commander of Air Education and Training Command, said. “This ceremony and commemorative plaque honor his actions and preserve his story, which we all should know. He was a true hero and an inspiration, and his selfless acts rightly earned John our nation’s highest military distinction.”
Chapman along with members of the Navy SEALs came under enemy fire, in Afghanistan March 4, 2002. Once out of harm’s way, Chapman provided directions to another helicopter to pick up the team. He and the team then rescued a team member who was thrown from the aircraft and located behind enemy lines.
While on the ground, the team came under fire from multiple directions. Chapman exchanged fire from minimum cover and covered his teammates before he succumbed to multiple wounds.
“That deployment and the Battle of Takur Ghar taught a generation of special operators the kind of fight that they were in and it transformed a relatively inexperienced special operations force into something else,” said Col. Mason Dula, commander of the Special Warfare Training Wing. “Master Sgt. Chapman’s loss was the harbinger to all too frequent reports of casualties and fallen comrades and ceremonies at Arlington that robbed the force of rest even when in garrison because someone you knew and loved was always down range.”
Chapman is now memorialized at the Airmen’s Heritage Park with other Air Force Medal of Honor recipients from past wars.
“We can never tell too many stories about Chapman,” Dula said. “We teach Airmen about him. He wasn’t a legend or a case study in service before self. He was a teammate and we loved him.”
Chapman was honored one year ago by JBSA officials, when the former JBSA-Lackland Training Annex was renamed JBSA-Chapman Training Annex. The annex is the location where Chapman began his training for his Air Force career in 1989.
Airmen’s Heritage Park is a nine-acre park that is dedicated to all Airmen who have served and are currently serving in the Air Force. It contains a pavilion, public restrooms, a half-mile walking path and the Medal of Honor memorial which displays Army Air Corps and Air Force Medal of Honor recipients who served in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and now Chapman from the War in Afghanistan.
Imagery and footage of the ceremony located at the following links: