The U.S. Air Force has released video from a surveillance aircraft that shows the final heroic moments of Tech Sgt. John Chapman, who will receive the Medal of Honor posthumously for his bravery later this month from President Trump.
The video was taken on March 4, 2002. “Chapman charged multiple machine-gun nests and engaged in hand-to-hand combat on the 10,000-foot peak known as Takur Ghar in Afghanistan during Operation Anaconda,” Task & Purpose reported on Friday.
Chapman, an Air Force combat controller, and six members of Navy SEAL Team 6 — callsign Mako 30 — were tasked with helicopter-inserting high above the valley so they could direct air strikes and provide intelligence for conventional troops below, who were attempting to flush out an estimated 200 to 300 lightly-armed Al Qaeda fighters, just five months after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.
Before they landed, Chapman and the team came under heavy enemy fire from al Qaeda fighters, which led Navy SEAL Neil Roberts to fall from the back of the aircraft. The team later mounted a rescue operation for Roberts, in which Chapman and SEAL Team Leader Britt Slabinski paired up to clear a series of bunkers on the mountaintop.
Chapman personally shot and killed at least two enemy fighters shortly after his insertion, alongside Slabinski, who engaged multiple enemy positions and cleared a small bunker (Slabinski received the Medal of Honor in May for his actions during the battle). Amid withering fire and after Chapman was wounded and presumed dead, the SEALs evacuated the peak.
In the video (below), Chapman can be seen leading his team up a snowy mountain as the enemy fires on them from two bunkers. “Chapman charged into the first bunker, then ‘deliberately moves from cover to attack a second hostile machine gun firing on his team’ before he was wounded and temporarily incapacitated, the Air Force says.”
After he regained consciousness, he began firing on enemy positions and engaged in hand-to-hand combat. “And when a quick reaction force helicopter was heard, he provided covering fire until he was struck twice in the chest and killed.”
“Sergeant Chapman’s heroic actions, at the cost of his life, are credited with saving the lives of his teammates,” the White House said in a statement.
His family will receive the award at the White House on August 22.