United States Air Force Tech. Sgt. John Chapman, from Fayetteville, North Carolina, was involved in a reconnaissance mission in northern Afghanistan on 4 March 2002 when the team's twin-engine Chinook helicopter came under heavy fire. It was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade and crash-landed.
Chapman called in air support to cover the team, which was now exposed to enemy fire. He also directed a helicopter rescue of his team and aircrew members and led the search for a Navy SEAL who had fallen from the helicopter. Chapman killed two jihadis during the search, but came upon a machine-gun nest. Though the enemy fired on the rescue team on three sides, Chapman fired back. Soon, however, multiple wounds claimed his life, though he is credited with saving the lives of the others in the rescue team.
For his actions, Chapman was posthumously awarded the Air Force Cross, and a U.S. Navy cargo ship was named in his honor.
(This account was originally published in the Feb. 15, 2008 Digest.)