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President to award Medal of Honor to late Air Force sergeant from Connecticut

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TSgt. John Chapman's photograph on CT Wall of Honor shows him holding a young Afghani girl in a tent where he had allowed women and children to take shelter during a blizzard in the winter of 2002, not long before he died. (CT Wall of Honor)

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump will award the Medal of Honor to an Air Force sergeant credited with saving the lives of service members on a mountain in Afghanistan in 2002.

On August 22nd, Trump will present the award posthumously to the family of Technical Sergeant John A. Chapman, a native of Windsor Locks.  At Windsor Locks High School, he was a state soccer champion and a record-setting diver. According to his entry on the state’s Wall of Honor, Chapman joined the Air Force in 1985. At the time of his death he was a special operations combat air controller, responsible for calling in air support for ground troops.

On March 4, 2002, he and his team were on a mission in northeastern Afghanistan when their Chinook helicopter was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade and was forced to crash land high in a valley.

Chapman and other team members returned to the snow-capped mountain to search for Navy SEAL Neil Roberts, who had fallen out of the helicopter and later died by gunfire. During the search Chapman killed two enemies and then came upon a dug-in machine gun nest.

As Taliban and Al Qaeda insurgents fired on the rescue team from three sides, Chapman approached the nest in knee-deep snow and fired at close range until multiple gunshots took his life.

The White House says Chapman “charged into enemy fire through harrowing conditions,” seized a bunker and killed its occupants. In an ensuing firefight, he was severely wounded but continued to fight until he was killed.

The Medal of Honor is awarded to those who risk their lives and go above and beyond the call of duty.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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