In 2002, U.S. services members engaged Al Qaeda terrorists in the short but intense battle at Takur Ghar mountain in Afghanistan. Seven soldiers tragically died, but for years, one incredible story of heroism was left out of official reports. This week, President Donald Trump posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor to Air Force Sgt. John Chapman for his stunning act of bravery.
During the March 4, 2002, battle, Sgt. Chapman stepped in front of an Al Qaeda machine gun team to stop them from shooting down a U.S. military helicopter. The swift and selfless action saved more than 20 lives.
On Wednesday, Sgt. Chapman became the first airman to receive the Medal of Honor award since the Vietnam War, Fox News reported. In a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, President Trump presented Chapman’s family with the highest honor one can receive for valor in combat.
The president presented the framed medal to Chapman’s widow, Valerie Nessel, along with some of the late airman’s fellow service members who owe him their lives.
“In that final act of supreme courage, John gave his life for his fellow warriors,” Trump said. “Through his extraordinary sacrifice, John helped save more than 20 American service members, some of whom are here today.”
During the ceremony, Trump discussed Chapman’s early life, stating that even from a young age he tried “to protect those in need.” He cited a story where Chapman protected a fellow kindergartner from being bullied, a seemingly small act that set the trajectory for the rest of his life.
It was no surprise when Chapman volunteered to go to Afghanistan post-9/11 telling his superior, “‘I need to go.’”
Just weeks ago, the U.S. Air Force finally released the aerial video that was taken of Chapman’s last moments when he charged the Al Qaeda machine gun team on Takur Ghar, the 10,000-foot Afghani mountain.
According to reports released from the White House, Chapman “charged into enemy fire through harrowing conditions,” then seized a bunker and killed enemies inside. Throughout the fight, he was severely injured, but nothing stopped him from fighting until he was killed.
At one point Chapman lost consciousness, but when he regained his consciousness, he continued to fight for another hour. He killed two more enemies before he was finally taken down.
Britt K. Slabinski, a retired member of SEAL team 6, thought that Chapman died earlier on in the 14-hour battle, and pulled his team off the active battlefield. He would later receive the Medal of Honor as well.
The battle at Takur Ghar has been under scrutiny for years, as initial reports stated that Slabinski and his team knowingly abandoned Chapman while he was still alive. After a 30-month investigation, however, Chapman’s heroic actions were verified via aerial drone footage.
“He really fought,” Trump stated at the ceremony, adding that the family has “good genes.”
“He gave his life for his fellow warriors,” the president added.
Sgt. Chapman was recommended for the award by Air Force Secretary Deborah James, who stressed that his actions should not go unnoticed.
“Nobody thinks that he did anything other than his absolute best on the worst day of his life,” James said of Slabinski. “He thought he was dead, and he was responsible for four or five others that he was trying to save.”
(H/T: Fox News)