Technical Sergeant John Chapman, USAF

Sixteen years after he sacrificed himself defending his team on a 10,000-foot peak known as Takur Ghar in Afghanistan, Air Force Technical Sgt. John Chapman has received the Medal of Honor. Valerie Nessel, the spouse of Tech. Sgt. John Chapman, received the posthumous award the Medal of Honor from President Donald J. Trump during a ceremony at the White House in Washington, D.C., Aug. 22, 2018.

Chapman’s actions were recorded by a MQ-1 Predator.


Technical Sergeant John A. Chapman distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism as an Air Force Special Tactics Combat Controller, attached to a Navy Sea, Air, and Land (SEAL) Team conducting reconnaissance operations in Takur Ghar, Afghanistan, on March 4, 2002. During insertion, the team’s helicopter was ambushed causing a teammate to fall into an entrenched group of enemy combatants below. Sergeant Chapman and the team voluntarily reinserted onto the snow-capped mountain, into the heart of a known enemy stronghold to rescue one of their own. Without regard for his own safety, Sergeant Chapman immediately engaged, moving in the direction of the closest enemy position despite coming under heavy fire from multiple directions. He fearlessly charged an enemy bunker, up a steep incline in thigh-deep snow and into hostile fire, directly engaging the enemy. Upon reaching the bunker, Sergeant Chapman assaulted and cleared the position, killing all enemy occupants. With complete disregard for his own life, Sergeant Chapman deliberately moved from cover only 12 meters from the enemy, and exposed himself once again to attack a second bunker, from which an emplaced machine gun was firing on his team. During this assault from an exposed position directly in the line of intense fire, Sergeant Chapman was struck and injured by enemy fire. Despite severe, mortal wounds, he continued to fight relentlessly, sustaining a violent engagement with multiple enemy personnel before making the ultimate sacrifice. By his heroic actions and extraordinary valor, sacrificing his life for the lives of his teammates, Technical Sergeant Chapman upheld the highest traditions of military service and reflected great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.

The Battle for Roberts Ridge

On May 4, 2002, the SEAL team’s task was to establish an outpost at the top of Takur Ghar, a mountain in southeast Afghanistan.

Due to delays, the helicopter carrying the team arrived to find al-Qaida forces waiting for them and took heavy fire.

During the assault, the Chinook took rocket-propelled grenade fire and Roberts was ejected. The helicopter crash-landed about four miles away.

Chapman soon began calling in airstrikes from AC-130 gunships circling overhead.

According to his Air Force Cross citation, Chapman “then directed the gunship to begin the search for the missing team member. He requested, coordinated, and controlled the helicopter that extracted the stranded team and aircrew members.”

Chapman, who was in the helicopter that crash-landed, eventually returned on another Chinook with five SEALs to try to rescue Roberts on the hillside, which would become known as “Roberts Ridge.”

Tsgt John Chapman would engage and kill two enemy personnel and exchange fire with multiple fighters all around his position.

It was believed that Chapman died then on the mountainside. Drone footage later revealed he lived at least another hour.

Along with Chapman and Roberts, Senior Airman Jason Cunningham, Army Sgt. Bradley Crose, Army Sgt. Phillip Svitak, Army Spc. Marc Anderson and Army Cpl. Matthew Commons also died during the mission.

Senior Chief Britt K. Slabinski, leader of the SEAL team that day has had his Silver Star upgraded to the Medal of Honor.

Stop Infighting Around SEAL’s Medal of Honor, Awards Expert Says


These things drop like flies.  Especially in training.

2013 MQ-1 CREECH

There’s a hill right off the approach end of runway 08/26 called “Five Spot Hill”.  There are five caves at the top that look like the five spots on a dice, hence the name.  This MQ-1 smacked right into it while trying to land.

You won’t see many pictures of this MQ-9.

Nothing like crashing the Wing Commander’s jet and reducing the national inventory by 50%.  In 2007, Creech AFB got their first MQ-9.  Shortly thereafter they got another one.  One night I was listening to the Tower and wished I could’ve recorded the following. The intrepid drone pilot was practicing touch and goes.

MQ-9: “Request go around. Reaper 01”

TOWER: “Negative Reaper One”

MQ-9: “What?”

TOWER: “Negative go around Reaper One.  You have impacted the ground.”

MQ-9: “I have???”

The pilot had slammed the drone down so hard that it left a trail of parts down the runway.  By the time he asked for the go around he didn’t have enough airplane to do it.


The next day you could see Reaper One smeared into the dirt right where Taxiway Bravo crossing 08/26.  I watched the fiasco as everyone in a blue suit came out to lend their opinion on how to recover the aircraft.

They spent the morning positioning a crane and a flatbed.  I was sitting with my boss and told him, “They better get that on the flatbed by noon or they’re in trouble.”  He asked why.  “Because that’s when the noon time winds kick up”.

Low a behold,  they got it off the ground around 12:30.  That’s when its wing caught the winds and it started to “fly”.  MQ-9 bouncing around.  Crane bouncing around.  People fleeing in all directions.

Crane driver puts the aircraft back down.

They came back the next morning with a better plan and eventually got it on the flatbed and hauled the trash away.

INDIAN SPRINGS, NV – Pilot Shannon Cary (L) and Airman and sensor operator Jason Baber fly an MQ-1B Predator unmanned aircraft system during a training mission from a ground control station, April 16, 2009 at Creech Air Force Base in Indian Springs, Nevada.

Flying a drone is tricky.  With all the data displayed you can be easily tasked saturated and over look some thing basic.  Like turning off the engine.  This happened to a MQ-01 in the pattern at Creech.  Rather than turning the engine back on, the pilot attempted a dead stick landing.  Aside from landing short, he did a real good job.  The drone was on the ground, on its wheels and rolling through the desert.

Until it rolled into a culvert.  Came out of the culvert and smeared itself across taxiway CHARLIE. Whoops.