Air Force Tech Sgt. John Chapman’s heroic last stand can now be seen by the whole world. The clip of Sgt. Chapman’s fighting until the death was released by the Pentagon on August 9. Sgt. Chapman, of Waco, Texas, was killed on March 4, 2002, during the Battle of Robert’s Ridge in Afghanistan atop the Takur Ghar mountain. Sgt. Chapman was one of seven servicemen killed during Operation Anaconda.
On August 22, Sgt. Chapman will become the 19th airman to receive the Medal of Honor. His family, including his wife, will receive the honor from President Trump. Sgt. Chapman was first nominated for the Medal of Honor by former Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James in August 2016, reported the New York Times. The Times said that James, a President Barack Obama appointee, had ordered a review into seven Air Force Crosses that had been awarded since 9/11 to see if they should be upgraded.
The Air Force Times reports that the Pentagon video, which was captured from a predator drone flying overhead, was the key factor in promoting Sgt. Chapman’s award from the Air Force Cross to the Medal of Honor.
Sgt. Chapman had been with a group of Navy SEALs who were inserted into the mountain to rescue Petty Officer 1st Class Neil Roberts at 4:27 a.m. local time. According to the Pentagon, Sgt. Chapman ascended up a steep slope to engage with al Qaida fighters who were firing on the group from two bunkers. Sgt. Chapman entered one bunker where, according to Newsweek, injuries he suffered indicate he attacked the enemy with his bare hands. From there Sgt. Chapman moved to engage another enemy fighter who had been firing on the SEALs. That’s when the Air Force says he was knocked on conscious.
A little over an hour later, the Air Force says Sgt. Chapman regained consciousness and began attacking the enemy as he provided covering fire for Chinook helicopter that was carrying a group of army rangers. That’s when the Air Force says Sgt. Chapman was killed. He had been attacking a group of fighters who had hit the Chinook with an RPG.
Master Chief Britt K. Slabinski was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Battle of Robert’s Ridge in May 2018. According to Newsweek, “Some special operators blame Slabinski for not only Chapman’s death but also the lost lives of six other special ops on the mountain.” Master Chief Slabinski has previously stated his belief that he thought Sgt. Chapman was dead prior to his team withdrawing from the area.