Ship takes heroic legacy to the fight

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Becky J. LaRaia and Lisa Terry McKeown
  • 43rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
A fallen Air Force hero from Pope Air Force Base, N.C., was honored April 8 at the Military Ocean Terminal here. A Navy cargo ship was named for Air Force Cross recipient Tech. Sgt. John Chapman.

The combat controller’s legacy will live on as the Motor Vessel Tech. Sgt. John A. Chapman carries ammunition to his brothers in arms around the world.

“We promise that the MV Chapman will give her all to protect America’s peace and prosperity just as John did in Afghanistan,” said the ship’s captain, Scott Moser.

Sergeant Chapman died on March 4, 2002, while assigned to the 24th Special Tactics Squadron. He volunteered for what began as a rescue mission and ended in a struggle for survival. Thanks to his courageous efforts, the entire rescue team was able to escape to safety.

“John Chapman would tell you that he was just doing his job,” said Col. Kenneth Rodriguez, 720th Special Tactics Group commander. “He was the kind of guy that we (as his team) wanted to be.”

Sergeant Chapman was awarded the Air Force Cross on Jan. 10, 2003.

The dedication of the MV Chapman continues the long-standing tradition of the Navy’s Military Sealift Command by having a ship dedicated to fallen heroes. Sergeant Chapman is the third Airman to receive this honor.

The ship is 670 feet long, the size of two football fields, and can sail at speeds as fast as 16 knots. It is one of 36 ships that remain at sea filled with equipment to allow the military easy access to supplies in times of need.

Valerie Chapman, Sergeant Chapman’s widow, and Mickey Handy, wife of Gen. John W. Handy, commander of the U.S. Transportation Command, co-sponsored the naming of the ship. They, along with Mrs. Chapman’s two daughters, Madison, 8, and Brianna, 6, played an integral role in the ceremony.

“John would want us to go on, be happy and live life,” Mrs. Chapman said. “That’s what his death was all about -- to live and to be free.”

Gen. John P. Jumper, Air Force chief of staff; Vice Adm. David L. Brewer, Military Sealift commander; more than 30 foreign officers; and members of the special operations community joined the Chapman family at the ceremony.

“John, like all of our battlefield Airmen, brought high-tech to the battlefield,” General Jumper said. “They bring it the old-fashioned way with raw guts, courage and honor in ways that make us all very proud.”

Sergeant Chapman’s legacy to protect America’s freedoms will carry on through the MV Chapman as it carries ammunition to the Airmen he fought alongside in the continuing war on terrorism.