Special Tactics MOH Recipient Remembered With Annex Renaming
by U.S. Air Force Bridget Donovan, 24th Special Operations Wing PA
A parachute slid off the wall, revealing the text behind it,
“Welcome to Chapman Training Annex, home of Air Force Special
Warfare Training”. The life and legacy of a Special Tactics combat
controller will forever be cemented into history with an
installation renaming that serves to inspire not just Special
Warfare trainees, but all Airmen that come through the gates of the
March 4, 2020 - Valerie Nessel, spouse of Master Sgt. John
A. Chapman, gives a few words during the Joint Base San
Antonio Annex renaming ceremony at Joint Base San Antonio-Chapman Training Annex, Texas. Joint Base San Antonio-Annex, home of Special Warfare training, is renamed JBSA-Chapman Training Annex in honor of the service, heroism, and ultimate sacrifice of Master Sgt. John A. Chapman. Chapman was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his action in Takur Ghar, Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Sarayuth Pinthong)
The Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland Medina Training Annex was
renamed the Chapman Training Annex in honor of Special Tactics
combat controller Master Sgt. John A. Chapman March 4, 2020. The
ceremony, held on the 18th anniversary of his death, was attended by
family, friends and fellow Airmen.
In August 2018, Chapman was posthumously awarded the Medal of
Honor nation’s highest honor for his selfless actions in Afghanistan
during the Battle of Takur Ghar on March 4, 2002 in support of
“With the renaming of this training annex, the Air Force will
fittingly memorialize Master Sergeant Chapman at the location where
all Air Force enlisted Airmen receive their initial combat skills
training and all Air Force Special Warfare Airmen begin their
journey,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Michael Herrera,
squadron superintendent of the 350th Special Warfare Training
Chapman paid the ultimate sacrifice when he
selflessly sacrificed his life to fend off a rocket-propelled
grenade attack on an incoming MH-47 Chinook helicopter carrying a
quick reaction force of U.S. Army Rangers and Air Force Special
In a valiant attempt to rescue U.S. Navy SEAL, Petty Officer 1st
Class Neil Roberts, Chapman and the team voluntarily reinserted
themselves into immediate danger. Upon exiting the helicopter,
Chapman immediately charged uphill through the thigh-deep snow,
directly engaging enemy combatants, clearing the position.
With no regard for his own life, Chapman intentionally moved from
cover and was struck by enemy machine gun fire. Despite severe,
mortal wounds, Chapman continued fighting relentlessly before paying
the ultimate sacrifice.
was posthumously promoted to the rank of Master Sergeant on Aug. 22,
2018 by General David Goldfein, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air
“John Chapman was a great warrior, a steadfast friend,
a selfless patriot, and above all—a man of unquestionable
character,” said U.S. Air Force Vice Chief of Staff, General Stephen
W. Wilson. “I think it’s important to never forget his sacrifices,
so that this Chapman Annex might stand as an enduring reminder to
all about the ideas of selfless service—about an unwavering
commitment to duty, and to fellow men, so that we can aptly
characterize what John Chapman did and his service to our nation.”
Chapman is one of four enlisted Airmen in the U.S. Air Force to
have been awarded the Medal of Honor.
“The heroism and valor
of the number of special operators are particularly well chronicled.
While there were a number of extremely high awards presented in the
aftermath of this battle, the story of John Chapman’s gallantry
simply stands above them all,” said U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Gen.
Brad Webb, commander of Air Education and Training Command. “All
Airmen who pass through this gate, for BMT as well as Special
Warfare, will gaze upon this welcome sign to the Chapman Annex, and
know that they may be called upon to be the next Chappy.”
Chapman’s family members attended the ceremony including his wife,
Valerie Nessel and his daughter Brianna Chapman; his mother, Terry
Chapman; sister Lori Longfritz and brother Kevin Chapman.
“During training, there will be days when one is pushed beyond
physical limitations. Days of little sleep, cold, hunger, pure
exhaustion. You’ll feel defeated, and thoughts of quitting creep in
often. The operator has to want with every fiber of their being to
become an operator,” said Ms. Valerie Nessel, spouse of Master Sgt.
John Chapman. “This is where John’s story of heroism and legacy come
into play. When doubts enter, one must remember John on that
mountain top. You will learn about him through this annex training
“There is a quote by Arthur Ashe that defines
heroism and that is the one word that defines John to the fullest.
The quote goes like this, ‘True heroism is remarkably sober, at
times undramatic. But it is not the urge to surpass all others at
whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.’ I
wish all the trainees the best in their pursuit and challenge them
to train and operate as John lived and died. Thank you for always
remembering John,” Nessel said.
Following the ceremony, U.S.
Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Jaime Clark, command chief of the
Special Warfare Training Wing, led Airmen, teammates and family
members in performing memorial push-ups in honor of Master Sgt.
Chapman, a Special Tactics tradition to honor fallen comrades.
The Special Warfare Training Wing selects and trains the Air
Force’s conventional and special operations ground combat forces to
meet the demand of the future battlefield.
Tactics community was well represented with leaders from the 24th
Special Operations Wing including former 24th SOW commander, U.S.
Air Force Brig. Gen. Claude Tudor and U.S. Air Force Chief Master
Sgt. Jeff Guilmain, 24th SOW command chief.
with pride seeing this dedication that will cement John Chapman’s
valor and sacrifice for future generations of Special Tactics Airmen
following in his footsteps,” said Guilmain.
is U.S. Special Operation Command’s tactical air-ground integration
force and the Air Force’s special operations ground force, leading
global access, precision strike, personnel recovery and battlefield
John A. Chapman's
Medal of Honor Citation
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