Gold Star Mother Continues Medal of Honor Son's Legacy
by Alexandra Shea, Evans Army Community Hospital
November 26, 2018
Terry Chapman isn’t a Soldier, but she does serve as a G.I Granny. Her uniform, a black polo shirt with an embroidered patch, reads G.I. Grannies and Gramps, Soldier Support. Her rank, founding member.
Terry Chapman (right), who is a volunteer with the G.I. Grannies and Gramps, at U.S. Army Medical Department Activity –Fort Carson’s Warrior Transition Battalion on September 4, 2018. Terry began volunteering for the organization when it was founded in 2012 as a way to honor her son, Air Force Tech. Sgt. John A. Chapman (left). Her son was killed March 4, 2002 during the Battle for Robert’s Ridge during Operation Anaconda, Afghanistan. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor by President Donald Trump on August, 22, 2018. (Image created by USA Patriotism! from photos courtesy of G.I. Grannies and Gramps and U.S. Air Force)
“I moved here from Cincinnati so I could be closer to my kids and grandchildren,” said Terry. “I’ll keep volunteering as long as the group and I still exist.”
Founded in 2012, the G.I. Grannies and Gramps volunteer their services at Fort Carson’s Warrior Transition Battalion by providing birthday cakes, creating hand sewn items, hosting dinners, giving encouragement, and handing out lots of hugs. The volunteer group consists of 16 local community members, veterans, and Blue and Gold Star Family Members.
Family Members of active duty service men and woman are considered Blue Star while those that have lost a son or daughter in service to nation during times of war are considered Gold Star. Terry is a Gold Star Mother, she lost her son during the infamous Battle of Robert’s Ridge.
Her son, Air Force Tech Sgt. John A. Chapman, served as a combat controller with the 24th Special Tactics Squadron when he was attached to Seal Team 6 during Operation Anaconda in Afghanistan in March 2002. The mission-establish an observation post on the side of Takur Ghar Mountain.
Tech. Sgt. Chapman and his team fought through thigh-deep snow and heavy enemy combatants to rescue a fellow team member that was blown from their helicopter while taking heavy machine gun and rocket propelled grenade fire.
The intense fire fight would last more than an hour and claim the lives of seven team members, including Tech. Sgt. Chapman.
Over 15 years later, Tech Sgt. Chapman was nominated and awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
“Even though he was mortally wounded, John continued to fight on. He really fought,” said President of the United States Donald Trump. “Through his extraordinary sacrifice, John helped save over 20 American service members.”
Tech Sgt. Chapman’s widow, Valerie, and their two children attended the ceremony and accepted the award Aug. 22 in Washington, D.C., on what would have been their 26th wedding anniversary. Terry also attended to the White House ceremony in support with her son’s family as the award was accepted.
“It was surreal,” said Terry. “It was like I was in a dream. I really don’t have words to describe it. They went above and beyond to honor Johnny.”
During the ceremony, Trump spoke about the events of the battle and the bravery demonstrated by the team. He also spoke about Tech. Sgt. Chapman’s generosity and willingness to help his fellow man throughout his life, recounting a story of him standing up to a school bully for a friend.
“He wasn’t an angel,” said Terry. “He did get into mischief, good mischief, but he always had such a good heart. I’ve been blessed with four very compassionate kids.”
She recounted a story from her son’s youth about how he and his brother parked a neighboring child’s bicycle in a tree as a joke. Upon discovering the bike, the neighbor girl was upset. Terry recalled how her son marched to her door after finding out how upset she had become and confessed to hiding the bike. To make amends, he returned the bike and apologized to the girl, saving their friendship.
“He made the best of every situation, even when things were horrible,” Terry said. “He always had such a good heart.”
The whirl-wind trip to the capitol meant long days and short nights for the Chapman family. After returning home to Colorado, Terry took the weekend to rest. The following Monday, she was back to her duties at the Warrior Transition Battalion. Surrounded by her fellow volunteers, she was serving birthday cakes and cards to Soldiers with an August birthday.
“This is our way to honor our sons as well as to honor the men and women who serve our country,” said Terry.
John Chapman's Medal of Honor Citation | John Chapman - Valor and Sacrifice | John Chapman's Heroic Actions