Airman to be awarded Medal of Honor after 16 years

February 15, 2019


According to, the U.S. Air Force is set to posthumously award the Medal of Honor 16 years later to Technical Sergeant John Chapman serving as a radioman with SEAL Team 6 reconnaissance unit involved in the March 4, 2002, firefight in Eastern Afghanistan. It was the second day of what would be the largest battle involving conventional U.S. troops in the Afghanistan War, called Operation Anaconda.


And “Chappy”, as he was known by his teammates — will be the first Air Force service-member to receive the nation’s highest award for valor since the Vietnam War. Chapman originally received an Air Force Cross, the second-highest valor award an airman can receive for his heroism during the mountaintop battle against Al Qaeda extremists.


Chapman's final hours in Afghanistan were unveiled in new details first obtained by The New York Times. New evidence from drone footage showed that Chapman fought al-Qaida fighters alone on a mountainside after his unit departed.


While it was believed Chapman was killed in the firefight, Predator drone footage coupled with video feed from an AC-130 showed a grainy image of Chapman still living up to an hour after his teammates left the area.


This new evidence prompted former Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James in 2016 to recommend his Air Force Cross be upgraded to the Medal of Honor.


Chapman was the first combat controller in history to earn the Air Force Cross.


Disclaimer: The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information on this website does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement. 


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