Family and friends of a Connecticut man, who was killed in combat, will be at the White House later Wednesday.
They describe John Chapman as fearless, something that was certainly put to the test on a cold, dark mountain in Afghanistan 16 years ago.
He left behind a widow and two young girls, and Chapman’s widow was met by a line of men and women in uniform as she headed to her plane in Florida Tuesday to go to Washington. She will meet up with several of Chapman’s friends from Windsor Locks there as President Trump present her with the Medal of Honor Chapman earned in 2002.
Just a few months after 9-11, he was there hunting down Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda. His helicopter was ambushed, a Navy SEAL fell out. In the rescue mission, Chapman was shot and left for dead, but over the years, studies of some aerial video later determined he came to and fought off the Taliban forces, alone, for an hour, before he was killed trying to protect an incoming rescue helicopter.
“It’s not how we initially thought he spent the last moments of his life. To know that there were more than just a few moments and there was some time he was there by himself fighting, but that’s John,” said Joanne Kryszpin, a friend.
“Having been that close with John and knowing how one of your good friend’s last moments of life were, it was really kind of sad,” said Brian Topor, a friend.
The sadness and grief are still with all of them, but today, a long overdue moment. Chapman’s bravery and sacrifice will be honored with the nation’s highest military award. His friends tell me he would have hated all the ceremony and praise, but that ceremony praising Chapman will be at the White House Wednesday afternoon.
Chapman is the first member of the Air Force to earn the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War.