Air Force Academy adds Master Sgt. Chapman to Medal of Honor wall

  • Published
  • By Jennifer Spradlin
  • U.S. Air Force Academy Public Affairs

The Air Force Academy added Medal of Honor recipient Master Sgt. John Chapman to the Medal of Honor portrait wall in Fairchild Hall Nov. 8.

Special guests at the event included Chapman’s mother, brother, wife and daughter.

The Medal of Honor is the highest military honor presented to service members who have displayed the highest level of valor. President Donald Trump posthumously awarded the distinction to the fallen Airman earlier this year for his heroism during the Battle of Takur Ghar in Afghanistan.

He is the first Airman to receive the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War. 

Speaking to a group of Airmen, cadets and cadet candidates, retired Chief Master Sgt. Michael Lamonica, formerly of the 720th Special Tactics Group and personal friend of the Chapman family, emphasized that John’s example should serve as a guide.

“John was a leader of character. He never faltered, he never failed,” said Lamonica, describing how John risked his life to ensure the enemy could not fire on a vulnerable, inbound helicopter. He said it was indicative of who he had been since he was a small boy, intervening when a bully mistreated other kids on the playground.

 “[In the] Air Force you will be challenged. You won’t be challenged like John was on the mountain, most of us only wish we could do what John did, but the Air Force gives us a roadmap of who they want us to be: our Oath, our Core Values, and our Airman’s Creed. Those are the ultimate commander’s guidance,” he said.

The Medal of Honor wall is intended to serve as a site of inspiration and reflection for the cadets as they grow in their leadership development and pursue their education.

“We feel it's essential that cadets have a rich awareness of the warriors that have come before them, both officers and enlisted.  It's very important that cadets fully appreciate that they'll soon be leaders of our enlisted force, an unequaled body of world class airpower executors,” said Col. Thomas Swaim, permanent professor and head of the Department of Military and Strategic Studies. “They need to embrace and celebrate the immense impact these Airmen have on our service and our nation.”