Tag Archives: Arlington National Cemetery

TFH 3/4: Two Gallant Airmen – Chapman & Cunningham – 10 Years

Ten years ago today, United States special operations forces commenced the Battle of Takur Ghar, also known as the Battle of Roberts Ridge, so named for a US Navy SEAL (Neil Roberts) who became the first casualty of the engagement.

Three members of the United States Air Force accompanied traditional ground forces on the helicopters that brought them to the battle area. Two of the three gave their lives for our country, and in their sacrifices exhibited courage and fighting spirit worthy of the second-highest award they could have received: the Air Force Cross.

The first was a Combat Air Controller responsible for coordinating air support who took it upon himself to lead a rescue of his Navy colleagues. The second was a Pararescue Medic who first stayed aboard a burning helicopter to care for the wounded and then repeatedly ventured into danger multiple times to care for his comrades. Their names were John A. Chapman and Jason D. Cunningham.

Air Force Cross Citation for Technical Sergeant John A. Chapman, USAF:

click The President of the United States of America, authorized by Title 10, Section 8742, United States Code, takes pride in presenting the Air Force Cross (Posthumously) to Technical Sergeant John A. Chapman, United States Air Force, for extraordinary heroism in military operation against an armed enemy of the United States as a 24th Special Tactics Squadron, Combat Controller in the vicinity of Gardez, in the eastern highlands of Afghanistan, on 4 March 2002. On this date, during his helicopter insertion for a reconnaissance and time sensitive targeting close air support mission, Sergeant Chapman’s aircraft came under heavy machine gun fire and received a direct hit from a rocket propelled grenade which caused a United States Navy sea-air-land team member to fall from the aircraft. Though heavily damaged, the aircraft egressed the area and made an emergency landing seven kilometers away. Once on the ground Sergeant Chapman established communication with an AC-130 gunship to insure the area was secure while providing close air support coverage for the entire team. He then directed the gunship to begin the search for the missing team member. He requested, coordinated, and controlled the helicopter that extracted the stranded team and aircrew members. These actions limited the exposure of the aircrew and team to hostile fire. Without regard for his own life Sergeant Chapman volunteered to rescue his missing team member from an enemy strong hold. Shortly after insertion, the team made contact with the enemy. Sergeant Chapman engaged and killed two enemy personnel. He continued to advance reaching the enemy position then engaged a second enemy position, a dug-in machine gun nest. At this time the rescue team came under effective enemy fire from three directions. From close range he exchanged fire with the enemy from minimum personal cover until he succumbed to multiple wounds. His engagement and destruction of the first enemy position and advancement on the second position enabled his team to move to cover and break enemy contact. In his own words, his Navy sea-air-land team leader credits Sergeant Chapman unequivocally with saving the lives of the entire rescue team. Through his extraordinary heroism, superb airmanship, aggressiveness in the face of the enemy, and the dedication to the service of his country, Sergeant Chapman reflects the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.

Air Force Cross Citation for Senior Airman Jason Dean Cunningham, USAF:

buy Lyrica canada The President of the United States of America, authorized by Title 10, Section 8742, United States Code, takes pride in presenting the Air Force Cross (Posthumously) to Senior Airman Jason Dean Cunningham, United States Air Force, for extraordinary heroism in military operations against an opposing armed force while serving as a Pararescueman of the 38th Rescue Squadron, 247th Operations Group, in action near the village of Marzak in the Paktia Province of Afghanistan on 4 March 2002. On that proud day, Airman Cunningham was the primary Air Force Combat Search and Rescue medic assigned to a Quick Reaction Force tasked to recover two American servicemen evading capture in austere terrain occupied by massed Al Qaida and Taliban forces. Shortly before landing, his MH-47E helicopter received accurate rocket-propelled grenade and small arms fire, severely disabling the aircraft and causing it to crash land. The assault force formed a hasty defense and immediately suffered three fatalities and five critical casualties. Despite effective enemy fire, and at great risk to his own life, Airman Cunningham remained in the burning fuselage of the aircraft in order to treat the wounded. As he moved his patients to a more secure location, mortar rounds began to impact within fifty feet of his position. Disregarding this extreme danger, he continued the movement and exposed himself to enemy fire on seven separate occasions. When the second casualty collection point was also compromised, in a display of uncommon valor and gallantry, Airman Cunningham braved an intense small arms and rocket-propelled grenade attack while repositioning the critically wounded to a third collection point. Even after he was mortally wounded and quickly deteriorating, he continued to direct patient movement and transferred care to another medic. In the end, his distinct efforts led to the successful delivery of ten gravely wounded Americans to life-saving medical treatment. Through his extraordinary heroism, superb airmanship, aggressiveness in the face of the enemy, and in the dedication of his service to his country, Senior Airman Cunningham reflected the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.

Both citations courtesy of Military Times’ Hall of Valor.

On this, the tenth anniversary of their courageous acts and ultimate sacrifice, a grateful Nation stands proud in salute of Chapman and Cunningham, as well as all the other brave men and women of the United States Air Force who have defended us both in the skies and on the ground since September 11, 2001.

Technical Sergeant Chapman rests in peace in Windber, PA. Senior Airman Cunningham lies among the United States’ most honored dead in Arlington National Cemetery.

Share

TFH 2/8: Four Airmen over North Vietnam

On this day in 1968, four American airmen strapped into their McDonnell Douglas F-4D Phantom II fighters at Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base as part of the 435th Tactical Fighter Squadron with the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing for a mission over North Vietnam. Their target: a heavily defended enemy airfield.

Faced with deteriorating weather conditions and intense enemy anti-aircraft fire, the two F-4s descended as low as they dared to attack the target visually. They were successful in destroying several enemy aircraft on the ground. While one of the two American fighters was shot down, the second stayed on station to coordinate the rescue of the downed airmen, both of whom evaded capture and were rescued.

For their tenacity, courage, and determination to strike their target in the face of enemy action, all four of these great Americans received our Nation’s second highest honor: the Air Force Cross. All four citations are listed below, courtesy of Military Times’ Hall of Valor.


Major Larry D. Armstrong

go site The President of the United States of America, authorized by Title 10, Section 8742, United States Code, takes pleasure in presenting the Air Force Cross to Major Larry D. Armstrong, United States Air Force, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force as an F-4D Aircraft Commander in the 435th Tactical Fighter Squadron, 8th Tactical Fighter Wing, Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, in action in Southeast Asia on 8 February 1968. On that date, Major Armstrong led two aircraft against one of the largest, most important, and most heavily defended airfields in North Vietnam. Despite inclement weather, Major Armstrong descended to extremely low altitude for a visual high-speed run across the airfield. Although faced with a barrage of withering anti-aircraft artillery fire, Major Armstrong remained as top cover and directed the rescue effort, which expeditiously recovered two downed airmen. As a result of his actions, Major Armstrong was successful in neutralizing a threat to Free World forces in Southeast Asia. Through his extraordinary heroism, superb airmanship, and aggressiveness in the face of hostile forces, Major Armstrong reflected the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.

Armstrong also received four Distinguished Flying Crosses for his Vietnam service. He retired as a full Colonel in 1978, and passed away in 1997. He rests in Arlington National Cemetery.

Captain John A. Corder

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Title 10, Section 8742, United States Code, takes pleasure in presenting the Air Force Cross to Captain John A. Corder, United States Air Force, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force as an F-4D Pilot in the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing, Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, in action in Southeast Asia on 8 February 1968. On that date, Captain Corder led two aircraft against one of the largest, most important, and most heavily defended airfields in North Vietnam. Despite inclement weather, Captain Corder descended to extremely low altitude for a visual high-speed run across the airfield. Although faced with a barrage of withering anti-aircraft artillery fire which severely crippled his aircraft, Captain Corder resolutely and skillfully pressed his attack against the target, damaging and destroying several aircraft on the ground. Captain Corder was finally forced to eject over hostile territory. He successfully evaded hostile search parties and was subsequently rescued by a friendly helicopter. As a result of his actions, Captain Corder was successful in neutralizing a threat to Free World forces in Southeast Asia. Through his extraordinary heroism, superb airmanship, and aggressiveness, Captain Corder reflected the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.

Captain Corder later served as the Deputy Commander for Operations with the Central Command Air Forces during Operation DESERT STORM in 1991. He retired from the United States Air Force as a Major General in 1992, and is still living. Included among his other decorations are three awards of the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal.

Captain Tracey K. Dorsett, Jr.

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Title 10, Section 8742, United States Code, takes pleasure in presenting the Air Force Cross to Captain Tracy K. Dorsett, Jr. (AFSN: 0-59111), United States Air Force, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force as an F-4D Aircraft Commander in the 435th Tactical Fighter Squadron, 8th Tactical Fighter Wing, Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, in action in Southeast Asia on 8 February 1968. On that date, Captain Dorsett led two aircraft against one of the largest, most important, and most heavily defended airfields in North Vietnam. Despite inclement weather, Captain Dorsett descended to extremely low altitude for a visual high-speed run across the airfield. Although faced with a barrage of withering anti-aircraft artillery fire which severely crippled his aircraft, Captain Dorsett resolutely and skillfully pressed his attack against the target, damaging and destroying several aircraft on the ground. He was finally forced to eject over hostile territory. He successfully evaded hostile search parties and was subsequently rescued by a friendly helicopter. As a result of his actions, Captain Dorsett was successful in neutralizing a threat to Free World forces in Southeast Asia. Through his extraordinary heroism, superb airmanship, and aggressiveness in the face of hostile forces, Captain Dorsett reflected the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.

Dorsett is still living and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in September, 1980. He also received a Distinguished Flying Cross for his Vietnam Service.

First Lieutenant James Harry Hall

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Title 10, Section 8742, United States Code, takes pleasure in presenting the Air Force Cross to First Lieutenant James Harry Hall (AFSN: 0-81328), United States Air Force, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force as an F-4D Pilot in the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing, Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, in action in Southeast Asia on 8 February 1968. On that date, Lieutenant Hall led two aircraft against one of the largest, most important and most heavily defended airfields in North Vietnam. Despite inclement weather, Lieutenant Hall descended to extremely low altitude for a visual high-speed run across the airfield. Although faced with a barrage of withering anti-aircraft artillery fire, Lieutenant Hall resolutely and skillfully pressed his attack against the target, damaging and destroying several aircraft on the ground. When the lead crew was finally forced to eject over hostile territory, Lieutenant Hall remained as top cover and directed the rescue effort, which expeditiously recovered the two downed airmen. As a result of his actions, Lieutenant Hall was successful in neutralizing a threat to Free World forces in Southeast Asia. Through his extraordinary heroism, superb airmanship, and aggressiveness in the face of hostile forces, First Lieutenant Hall reflected the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.

Hall also received a Distinguished Flying Cross for his Vietnam service. He passed away in June of 2011 and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery. According to his Arlington burial record, he left the Air Force as a Captain.

Descendants of both the 435th Tactical Fighter Squadron and the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing still fly with the Air Force in defense of liberty today. The 435th Fighter Training Squadron helps prepare the airmen of the future to follow in the footsteps of Armstrong, Corder, Dorsett, and Hall from Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph as part of the 12th Flying Training Wing. The 8th Fighter Wing currently flies in defense of our South Korean allies as well as to protect American interests in the Western Pacific from Kunsan Air Base, Korea.

Share