John ‘Chappy’ Chapman

John Chapman

This article is dedicated to TSgt. John Chapman, and to all Combat Controllers who have and who are now operating at the tip of the spear in conflicts and humanitarian actions around the world.

Recent chatter in the halls of Congress and the Pentagon point at an initiative to upgrade TSgt. John Chapman’s Air Force Cross to the Congressional Medal of Honor.  TSgt. Chapman's selfless sacrifice exemplifies the character and courage that is the definition of the Congressional Medal of Honor.

This article supports the initiative by detailing the action that brought the award of The Air Force Cross to TSgt Chapman, and it introduces USAF Combat Controllers, who are not as well-known at their SOF brethren; the SEALS and Green Berets.

USAF Combat Controllers
The Global War on Terrorism

December 2001 – The Global War on Terrorism

In this 21st Century fight, USAF Combat Controllers operate at the bloody tip of the Special Operations Command's golden spear. And, in the words of the Delta Force commander at Tora Bora, Afghanistan in December 2001, they are practically indispensable.

“...if you asked what tool of the trade would be the very last thing they would leave behind, you might be surprised at the answer.  You would likely hear that it is not a tool that makes one nervous when it isn't there, but rather a capability that is not organic to a troop of Delta operators or Navy SEALs. Just because you are the best of the best does not mean you are the best at everything.  Any Delta operator can vouch for the capabilities of the Air Force Combat Controllers, and very rarely goes on a "hit" without the men who wear the scarlet berets.

Arguably they are the best-rounded and most uniquely trained operators on the planet. The initial training "pipeline" for an Air Force Special Tactics Squadron Combat Controller costs twice as much time and sweat as does the journey to become a Navy SEAL or Delta operator. Before their training is complete someone brainwashes these guys into thinking they can climb like Spiderman, swim like Tarzan, and fly like Superman --- and then they have to prove they can do so if they plan to graduate.  And that is just to get to a place where they can do the job for which they are really trained, calling in those deadly air
strikes.

The life of a combat controller is split between working with Delta and SEALs, with a little moonlighting with the 75th Ranger Regiment now and again.

They carry the motto that would be hard to look another operator in the face and say --- if it weren't true --- 'First There.'”

Dalton Fury, Delta Force Ground Commander
"Bomb Like There Is No Tomorrow" Kill Bin Laden
St. Martin's Press, New York, 2008. ISBN 978-0-312-38439-5

SEAL Team 6 and a Man Left for Dead:
A Grainy Picture of Valor

by Sean D. Naylor and Cristopher Drew - August 27, 2016
Reporting for the The New York Times

Tech Sgt. John Chapman in an undated photo.

Britt Slabinski could hear the bullets ricochet off the rocks in the darkness. It was the first firefight for his six-man reconnaissance unit from SEAL Team 6, and it was outnumbered, outgunned and taking casualties on an Afghan mountaintop.

A half-dozen feet or so to his right, John Chapman, an Air Force technical sergeant acting as the unit’s radioman, lay wounded in the snow. Mr. Slabinski, a senior chief petty officer, could see through his night-vision goggles an aiming laser from Sergeant Chapman’s rifle rising and falling with his breathing, a sign he was alive. Then another of the Americans was struck in a furious exchange of grenades and machine-gun fire, and the chief realized that his team had to get off the peak immediately.

He looked back over at Sergeant Chapman. The laser was no longer moving, Chief Slabinski recalls, though he was not close enough to check the airman’s pulse. Chased by bullets that hit a second SEAL in the leg, the chief said, he crawled on top of the sergeant but could not detect any response, so he slid down the mountain face with the other men. When they reached temporary cover, one asked: “Where’s John? Where’s Chappy?”

Chief Slabinski responded, “He’s dead.”

Now, more than 14 years after that brutal fight, in which seven Americans ultimately died, the Air Force says that Chief Slabinski was wrong — and that Sergeant Chapman not only was alive, but also fought on alone...  read the full article reprinted here from the New York Times...