Advert

The First Medal Of Honor Recorded In The Act During Rescue Mission

Published 
| Last updated 

The First Medal Of Honor Recorded In The Act During Rescue Mission

The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration that can be awarded by the United States government, and while most are given based on eye-witness accounts from fellow soldiers and personnel, one act of incredible bravery was captured on video.

John Chapman was a Combat Controller in the US Air Force, working on Operation Anaconda, aimed at destroying al-Qaeda forces in the Shahi-Kot Valley and Arma Mountains in Afghanistan in 2002.

After a botched mission on 4 March left an officer stranded, and ultimately fatally wounded, on the top of Takur Ghar mountain, the 36-year-old and five other SEALs were sent up to rescue him.

John Chapman. Credit: US Department of Defence
John Chapman. Credit: US Department of Defence
Advert

In incredible footage from that night, captured by a drone thousands of feet above, Chapman, under heavy fire, can be seen jumping out of the helicopter and charging ahead at the enemy in 'knee and thigh-deep snow', killing at least two targets as he moved towards the summit.

He and his team leader, Britt Slabinski, then head straight for one of the enemy bunkers, facing an avalanche of fire from AK-47 rifles above them.

Chapman then bravely entered the bunker by himself, killing two more enemy fighters at close range, before moving onto the next stronghold.

The top of Takur Ghar. Credit: US Department of Defence
The top of Takur Ghar. Credit: US Department of Defence
Advert

He and his team leader then looked to approach the next bunker, which was manned by a 'handful' of Chechen and Uzbek fighters, but Chapman was shot twice in the stomach and collapses.

Suffering continual bombardment of heavy fire, Slabinski and his team retreated, abandoning Chapman, who they believed at the time was dead.

Minutes later, however, a hugely outnumbered Chapman regains consciousness and makes his last valiant stand against almost two dozen al-Qaeda troops fixed on retaking the bunker he was now in.

The helicopter Chapman provided cover for before he was shot and killed. Credit: US Department of Defence
The helicopter Chapman provided cover for before he was shot and killed. Credit: US Department of Defence
Advert

He first killed an on-coming fighter, shooting him as he rushed towards the bunker, before engaging in hand-to-hand combat with another militant who crawled towards him.

Then, as a Chinook helicopter circled the mountain top, filled with reinforcements, Chapman bravely chose to step out of the bunker and provide cover fire for the approaching aircraft, which was struck by an RPG, causing it to crash land.

Again, as his comrades pour out of the helicopter, Chapman continued to provide cover, saving his comrades before thinking of his own safety.

Chapman in Afghanistan shortly before he died. Credit: US Department of Defence
Chapman in Afghanistan shortly before he died. Credit: US Department of Defence
Advert

Moments later, and more than an hour after his team fled the mountain top, the dad-of-two was hit in the chest by two machine gun rounds and died.

Chapman suffered nine bullet wounds during his heroic stand at the Battle of Takur Ghar, saving the lives of 23 comrades.

See Chapman's heroics below:

Advert

At the time, he was awarded an Air Force Cross, the second-highest decoration available; but it was only when the Air Force applied for a review of his case that the footage was analysed and he was awarded the Medal of Honor in 2018, the first airman in almost 50 years to receive it.

Speaking to LADbible about Chapman's heroics, former Air Force Command Controller Dan Schilling, who co-authored a book on his life, said: "Chapman's courage and heroic sacrifice on Takur Ghar remains the most astounding display of selflessness I've encountered in my lifetime."

Featured Image Credit: US Air Force

Topics: us military, War, Inspirational, afghanistan

Dominic Smithers
More like this
Advert
Advert
Advert

Chosen for YouChosen for You

News

Face Covering Rules Tightened As UK Reacts To Omicron Variant

13 hours ago

Most Read StoriesMost Read

News

Face Covering Rules Tightened As UK Reacts To Omicron Variant

13 hours ago