Tuesday, April 12, 2005
The Navy has named a massive ammunition ship vessel in honor of an Air Force combat controller who risked his own life trying to rescue a Navy SEAL. During a ceremony on Friday, the Navy named the ship after the late Tech. Sgt. John Chapman, 36, of Windber, Pa. Chapman was in a helicopter flying over Afghanistan on March 4, 2002, when it came under attack. When the helicopter was hit by a grenade and a Navy Seal team member fell from the aircraft, Chapman volunteered to rescue him. The helicopter landed safely a few miles away and Chapman asked to go back for his missing team member. Chapman and a rescue team came under attack while trying to locate the SEAL. Chapman killed two enemy fighters before dying from multiple wounds. The SEAL who Chapman was trying to save also died. Chapman earned the Air Force Cross, the second highest honor the service can bestow. Chapman left behind his wife, Valerie N. Chapman, and their two daughters, Madison, 8, and Brianna, 5. Gen. John P. Jumper, the Air Force chief of staff, said naming the ship after Chapman was an appropriate honor. "John, like all of our battle field airmen, bring high tech to the battlefield, but they do it the old-fashioned way, with raw guts and courage and honor," Jumper said.
MV TSgt. John A. Chapman will be used to preposition Air Force ammunition at sea, adding greatly to the U.S. military's combat readiness. The civilian-crewed ship is owned and operated for the U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Command by Sealift Inc. Air Force Tech. Sgt. John A. Chapman was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2002 and was posthumously awarded an Air Force Cross for his heroism.