In the predawn hours of March 4, 2002, just below the 10,469-foot peak of a mountain in eastern Afghanistan, a fierce battle raged. Outnumbered by Al Qaeda fighters, Air Force Combat Controller John Chapman and a handful of Navy SEALs struggled to take the summit in a desperate bid to find a lost teammate.
Chapman, leading the charge, was gravely wounded in the initial assault. Believing he was dead, his SEAL leader ordered a retreat. Chapman regained consciousness alone, with the enemy closing in on three sides.
John Chapman's subsequent display of incredible valor — first saving the lives of his SEAL teammates and then, knowing he was mortally wounded, single-handedly engaging two dozen hardened fighters to save the lives of an incoming rescue squad — posthumously earned him the Medal of Honor. Chapman is the first airman in nearly fifty years to be given the distinction reserved for America's greatest heroes.