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May 25, 2009
TSgt John A. ChapmanBy Greyhawk
Note: Originally from February, 2005, this tribute to a hero of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM is being presented as part of Mudville's Memorial Day weekend, 2009.
The Navy has announced it will name a ship for Air Force Technical Sergeant (E6) John A. Chapman.
TSgt Chapman was working special ops in Afghanistan, where on March 04, 2002 during a flight over mountainous terrain the helicopter his team was in came under fire and Navy SEAL Neil Roberts fell to the ground.
Supposedly...as the helo was on final, it came under fire. An air-crewman fell off the back ramp and was dangling by his tether. Neil reached down to pull him back in. An RPG hit the nose of the helo (didn't explode) and the pilot subsequently made an evasive maneuver. Neil tumbled out (the air-crewman may have also mistakenly pulled Neil out while Neil was trying to recover him or that may have not even of happened - doesn't matter - bottom line, Neil fell from about 10ft and was on the ground alone). It is unclear as to whether or not the guys on board the helo knew that they lost a man. Helo peeled away, developed hydraulic problems, and crash-landed about a click away.
Meanwhile, the heavily damaged aircraft egressed the area and made an emergency landing. TSgt Chapman contacted an AC-130 gunship to provide close-air support and a helo to extract the team and aircrew members, then volunteered to rescue Roberts from the enemy. On insertion his team made immediate contact with the enemy.
The remainder of the story is best told in the citation accompanying the award of Chapman's Air Force Cross. A Service Cross is the military's second highest medal for valor in combat, surpassed only by the Medal of Honor. Since its creation in 1960, the Air Force Cross has been awarded to only 23 enlisted airmen. Chapman became the third person since the end of the Vietnam War to receive the award.
Chapman was 37.
More details on the ship from the Fayetteville Observer:
The cargo ship that will become the Chapman is currently named the MV Merlin and has been operating in the Mediterranean. The ship is one of seven container and roll-on/roll-off ships. The ships are used to preposition munitions in the Mediterranean, the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocena and Saipan in the western Pacific. These ships are loaded with military equipment and supplies needed for a war or other operations. The ships are positioned in key ocean areas to be able to provide equipment, fuel, and supplies around the world on short notice.
Lots more links with details of the story here. As the PJ site says,
...the Pentagon called it "Operation Anaconda." The press have also referred to it as the battle at Shah-i-Kot Mountain. But the men who fought there, call it the battle on Robert's Ridge.
Neil Robert's body was recovered, as were the others, and all were evacuated.
The ridge is now called Roberts Ridge.
(Originally posted 2005-02-25 20:06:02)
Posted by Greyhawk / May 25, 2009 2:02 PM | Permalink
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November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
The Mudville Gazette is the on-line voice of an American warrior and his wife who stands by him. They prefer to see peaceful change render force of arms unnecessary. Until that day they stand fast with those who struggle for freedom, strike for reason, and pray for a better tomorrow.
Furthermore, I will occasionally use satire or parody herein. The bottom line: it's my house.
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