Tag Archives: Air Force

Air Force Technical Sergeant John A. Chapman awarded the Medal of Honor

Air Force Technical Sergeant John Chapman, was attached to SEAL Team 6 during Operation Anaconda, during the Afghanistan War. Chapman received the Medal of Honor for his actions at the Battle of Takur Ghar.

The Air Force Times reports:

The Battle of Takur Ghar was part of Operation Anaconda, a joint operation combining conventional forces and special operators that was one of the first major engagements of the Afghanistan War.

Chapman’s team, Mako 30, was one of several ordered to set up reconnaissance positions on mountaintops so as to provide overwatch and close-air support to conventional forces below.

The team of SEALs helicoptered toward a mountaintop they thought was unoccupied, but it turned out to be “a hornet’s nest of enemy activity” and “basically their headquarters, or their strong point,” the special tactics officer said.

The al Qaida fighters unleashed a barrage of fire on their Chinook, code-named Razor 03, which was struck by multiple RPGs. One of the SEALs on his team, Petty Officer 1st Class Neil Roberts, was thrown from the back into the snow below before the helicopter crash-landed about five miles away.

The team — headed by Master Chief Special Warfare Operator Britt Slabinsky, the retired Navy SEAL who himself received the Medal of Honor for this battle — quickly decided that Roberts’ only chance of survival would be if they got another helicopter and returned to rescue him.

“They knew it had a significant chance to be a one-way mission, but they felt like that was the only chance Roberts would have to survive,” the special tactics officer said. Unfortunately and unbeknownst to them, Roberts had already been killed about an hour before they returned.

As the team expected, the heavily armed al Qaida fighters were prepared when they returned and once again met them with withering fire. But this time, they were able to get on the mountaintop. It was before dawn. They trudged through thigh-deep snow, wearing night vision goggles, in the “bottom of a fishbowl, surrounded on three sides by enemy with overwatching positions that are shooting down with machine guns, RPGs, heavy fire.”

Keith Rocco, The Battle of Takur Ghar, National Guard Heritage Painting.)
Keith Rocco, The Battle of Takur Ghar, National Guard Heritage Painting.)

John Chapman was on this second Chinook helicopter:

Chapman led the charge without hesitation.

“He runs essentially straight up a steep mountain into the direction of enemy fire,” the special tactics officer said.

[…]Chapman burst into the first bunker, killed the two enemies there in close-quarters combat and seized it. He could have stayed safe within its hardened walls, which provided plenty of cover. But instead he emerged to assault the machine gun nest in the second nearby bunker, suppressing its fire and allowing his SEAL teammates to move forward.

That’s when Chapman was first wounded. The SEALs later described seeing him go down and the laser sight from his rifle, which was laying across his prone body, moving up and down with his labored breathing. Before long, they saw the laser stop moving and believed he had died.

Under heavy fire, the SEALs moved back to a ridgeline and continued firing until they were pushed down the mountaintop, the special tactics officer said.

Artwork by Johnny Shumate
Artwork by Johnny Shumate

(Source)

Chapman was left all alone. But a third Chinook helicopter was already on the way in with reinforcements. The RPG launchers were present and capable of shooting the third Chinook down.

Chapman was not dead, but instead unconscious and temporarily incapacitated. He awoke after a few minutes, and continued fighting the enemy in the second bunker about 10 meters away for the next hour, the special tactics officer said. There was also another group of al Qaida on top of a ridge, heavily armed with RPGs.

A third Chinook, Razor 01, carrying a quick reaction force of Rangers and special tactics airmen approached shortly after 5:40 a.m. The al Qaida fighters on the ridge start to take aim with their RPGs at Razor 01. The sun had risen.

Chapman makes the decision to sacrifice his own life to protect the lives of others:

It’s impossible to know what was going through Chapman’s head at that point, but the special tactics officer believes he realized the Rangers would have a better chance of survival if he could suppress that RPG fire.

Chapman once again ran out from the safety of his bunker, into broad daylight. He placed himself in-between the bunker — with his back to the machine gun within — and the fighters on the ridge, and began firing.

“When he stood up and got out of the bunker, I don’t think he imagined he was going to survive,” the special tactics officer said.

Razor 01 got hit by an RPG when it was about 50 feet off the ground, the special tactics officer said, but was still able to control its landing.

The Medal of Honor (Air Force variant):

Air Force Medal of Honor
The Air Force Medal of Honor, the highest decoration in the U.S. armed forces

More:

But it could have been much worse for Razor 1. The special tactics officer said that when Chapman opened fire on the al Qaida fighters on the ridge, he forced them to put their heads down and suppressed their RPG fire as the Chinook approached.

“It’s easy to imagine that it would be a high potential for there to be a catastrophic loss of the helicopter had he not been engaging the enemy as the helicopter was on its approach,” the special tactics officer said.

It’s hard to tell exactly what happened to Chapman at that point, the special tactics officer said, but the large-caliber machine gun bullets — probably from a PKM — that ultimately killed him were likely fired shortly thereafter.

The Rangers poured out of Razor 01 — two were killed as soon as they emerged — and then fought for seven more hours to get to where Chapman fell. The entire battle took 17 hours from the moment when Roberts was thrown from Razor 03.

Chapman was shot 9 times, including 7 times before being killed. When his body was recovered, he had emptied 6 30-round magazines. Due to his heroic actions, the lives of several of his allies on Razor-01 were saved. It was a disastrous situation, but instead of giving up, Chapman did everything he could to fix it. Eventually, enough American forces were able to land to defeat the 400 enemy fighters. 200 enemy fighters were killed. The Americans lost 7 killed, 12 wounded.

The full Medal of Honor citation for Chapman is here.

Friday night movie: Sink the Bismarck! (1960)

Here’s tonight’s movie:

IMDB mean rating: [7.2/10]

Description:

In 1939, the Nazi Germany’s largest and most powerful battleship, Bismarck, is launched in a ceremony at Hamburg with Adolf Hitler attending. The launching of the hull is seen as the beginning of an era of German sea power. Two years later, in 1941,British convoys are being ravaged by U-boats and surface raider attacks which cut off supplies which Britain needs to continue the war. In May, British intelligence discovers the Bismarck and the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen are about to break into theNorth Atlantic to attack convoys.

The man assigned to coordinate the hunt is the Admiralty’s chief of operations, Captain Jonathan Shepard (Kenneth More), who has been distraught over the death of his wife in an air raid and the sinking of his ship by German ships commanded by Admiral Günther Lütjens (Karel Štěpánek). Upon receiving his new post, Shepard discovers Lütjens is the fleet commander on the Bismarck. Shepard’s experience of conflict with the German Navy and his understanding of Lütjens allow him to predict theBismarck‘s movements. Shepard is aggressive to his staff but comes increasingly to rely on the coolness and skill of his assistant, WREN Second Officer Anne Davis (Dana Wynter).

Below are the combatants.

The German battleship Bismarck:

The Bismarck (click for larger image)
The Bismarck (click for larger image)

The aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal:

HMS Ark Royal (click for larger image)
HMS Ark Royal (click for larger image)

I think this battle signaled the end of battleships as the best naval unit.

So why did battleships become extinct? Well, you can get a lot more range and striking power out of several squadrons of bombers and torpedo bombers than you can out of 16 or even 18 inch guns. In fact, you’ll see the torpedo bombers of the HMS Ark Royal face off against the Bismarck in the movie. Today, naval warfare is conducted with surface-to-surface missiles like the Tomahawk and the SS-N-27 Sizzler, etc. as well as air-to-surface missiles fired from land and carrier based strike aircraft. The range of these missiles is far greater than the range of the deck guns on any battleship. However, there is work being done on rail guns which may force a return to conventional deck guns, especially for operations like shore bombardments where you want to use cheaper munitions!

Happy Friday!

Why celebrate Memorial Day? Why is Memorial Day important?

Arlington National Cemetary

What is Memorial Day? It’s the day that we remember all those brave men and women who have sacrificed to protect our liberties and our lives so that we could be safe from harm.

This video may help you to understand.

From Hot Air, a quote from Ronald Reagan.

Memorial Day is an occasion of special importance to all Americans, because it is a day sacred to the memory of all those Americans who made the supreme sacrifice for the liberties we enjoy. We will never forget or fail to honor these heroes to whom we owe so much. We honor them best when we resolve to cherish and defend the liberties for which they gave their lives. Let us resolve to do all in our power to assure the survival and the success of liberty so that our children and their children for generations to come can live in an America in which freedom’s light continues to shine.

The Congress, in establishing Memorial Day, called for it to be a day of tribute to America’s fallen, and also a day of national prayer for lasting peace. This Nation has always sought true peace. We seek it still. Our goal is peace in which the highest aspirations of our people, and people everywhere, are secure: peace with freedom, with justice, and with opportunity for human development. This is the permanent peace for which we pray, not only for ourselves but for all generations.

The defense of peace, like the defense of liberty, requires more than lip service. It requires vigilance, military strength, and the willingness to take risks and to make sacrifices. The surest guarantor of both peace and liberty is our unflinching resolve to defend that which has been purchased for us by our fallen heroes.

On Memorial Day, let us pray for peace — not only for ourselves, but for all those who seek freedom and justice.

And check some of my Medal of Honor posts:

I am listening to this podcast from the Heritage Foundation about the origin and meaning of Memorial Day.

God bless our soldiers, airmen and sailors!

For more reading, why not check out some of the military bloggers?

If you want to help out our troops, you can send them things through Soldier’s Angels.

Air Force sergeant who disagreed with homosexuality faces court martial

Todd Starnes of Fox News reports.

Excerpt:

A 19-year Air Force veteran who was relieved of his duties because he disagreed with his openly gay commander over gay marriage is now facing a formal investigation after he told me his story.

Senior Master Sgt. Phillip Monk found himself at odds with his Lackland Air Force Base commander after he objected to her plans to severely punish an instructor who had expressed religious objections to homosexuality. During the conversation, his commander ordered him to share his personal views on homosexuality.

“I was relieved of my position because I don’t agree with my commander’s position on gay marriage,” he told me. “We’ve been told that if you publicly say that homosexuality is wrong, you are in violation of Air Force policy.”

In one of her first meetings with Monk, the commander expressed concern about the chaplain who would deliver the benediction at her promotion ceremony.

“She said she wanted a chaplain but objected to one particular chaplain that she called a bigot because he preached that homosexuality is a sin,” Monk said.

After he was relieved of his duties, the Liberty Institute filed a religious discrimination complaint on his behalf.

Last week, Monk was supposed to meet with an Air Force investigator tasked with gathering facts about the complaint. But when he arrived, Monk was immediately read his Miranda Rights and accused of providing false statements in a conversation Monk had with me.

“I immediately got the sense that this was retaliation against me for coming forward with my religious discrimination complaint,” he said.

The accusations against Monk are a court-martial offense in the Air Force – and it’s quite possible that the 19-year veteran with a spotless record could be booted out of the military because of his Christian beliefs.

That’s why I found it so strange when I heard that people who called themselves Christians voted for Obama in 2008 or 2012. Anyone with a brain in their head who claimed to be Christian knew that they were voting for abortion, gay marriage and reduced religious liberty. That’s what we have now – there is no denying it. Democrats are not the party of religious liberty. They are against it. They view religious expression as something they have to destroy – by any means necessary. It should make us think about what we are doing by celebrating and affirming sin.

There is a reason why sin is called sin. Part of it is that the people who do it tend to be the kind of people who are willing to use force to get others to affirm them in what they are doing. Part of it is that it causes harm to others, often to unborn or born children – depriving them of what they need and treating them like commodities. That’s why Christians should be diligent about what behaviors they affirm and who they vote for. Christianity is not a religion that has celebrating and condoning of immorality at its core.

AF first sergeant faces reprisals from gay boss for refusing to affirm homosexuality

Here’s the first one from Fox News.

Excerpt:

Monk has served as a first sergeant at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio since 2011. He recently returned from a deployment and discovered he had a new commander – an open lesbian.

“In one of our first meetings, she was talking about her promotion and she mentioned something about a benediction,” Monk told Fox News. “She said she wanted a chaplain but objected to one particular chaplain that she called a bigot because he preached that homosexuality is a sin.”

“She then said, ‘I don’t know what kind of people actually believe that kind of crap,’” Monk said, recalling the meeting. “I knew I was going to have a rough time in this unit and I would have to be very careful what I said.”

That moment came when Monk was called in to advise the commander on a disciplinary matter involving an Air Force instructor accused of making comments objecting to gay marriage.

And then Monk had to advise his lesbian officer about someone who disagreed with homosexuality:

Seven people filed complaints about the remarks. It then became Monk’s job to advise the commander on disciplinary action.

“Her very first reaction was to say, ‘we need to lop off the head of this guy,’” Monk said. “The commander took the position that his speech was discrimination.”

Monk suggested she use the incident as a learning experience – a way to teach everyone about tolerance and diversity.

“I don’t believe someone having an opinion for or against homosexuality is discriminatory,” Monk told Fox News.

From that point, Monk said he was told that he wasn’t on the same page as the commander and if I didn’t get on the page they were on, they would find another place for me to work.”

“I’m being chastised about what’s going on,” he said. “I’m told that members of the Air Force don’t have freedom of speech. They don’t have the right to say anything that goes against Air Force policy.”

Monk, who is a devout evangelical Christian, said he met with the young instructor and told him that he was fighting for him.

“He was really concerned,” he said. “He said he felt like he was on an island – that he couldn’t be who he is anymore. He didn’t understand why somebody would be offended.”

The instructor was eventually punished by having a letter of counseling placed in his official file.

Monk soon found himself in a very similar position after his commander ordered him to answer a question about whether people who object to gay marriage are guilty of discrimination.

“She said, ‘Sgt. Monk, I need to know if you can, as my first sergeant, if you can see discrimination if somebody says that they don’t agree with homosexual marriage,’” he said. “I refused to answer the question.”

Monk said to answer would have put him in a legal predicament.

“And as a matter of conscience I could not answer the question the way the commander wanted me to,” he said.

I actually wanted to joint the military when I was young. But I knew that if I ever disagreed with my superiors on issues like abortion or gay marriage, that I would have trouble transferring my skills to a new career. I chose to go into computer science so that I could get my skills without being censored or sanctioned by teachers who didn’t agree with me. I wanted to avoid having to change who I was because someone else disagreed with me and wanted to push their views on me by exercising power. I had read about what atheists did to Christians in communist countries, and I didn’t want to be exposed to that. I knew that I had to choose a field where I could always take my skills and leave if I sensed danger.