Aug. 22 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump on Wednesday is scheduled to award the Medal of Honor posthumously to Air Force Tech. Sgt. John Chapman, who died protecting troops aboard an incoming helicopter atop a mountain in Afghanistan.
Trump praised Chapman for protecting "those in need" and making the "ultimate sacrifice."
"He gave his life for his fellow warriors," the president said during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House.
Valerie Nessel, Chapman's widow, accepted the medal on his behalf. Chapman was the first member of the Air Force to receive the award since the Vietnam War.
Chapman and six other members of his Navy SEAL team died March 4, 2002, in one of the opening battles of the war in Afghanistan -- Operation Anaconda.
One team member, Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Neil C. Roberts, fell from the team's heavily damaged MH-47 Chinook helicopter on Takur Ghar mountain. After a controlled crash landing a few miles away, the team returned to the mountaintop to retrieve Roberts, who had come under enemy fire.
During the rescue attempt, Chapman cleared an enemy bunker, but was seriously injured after coming under enemy fire. Believing Chapman to be dead, the team withdrew down the mountain.
But a subsequent military investigation determined Chapman regained consciousness and battled with the enemy for another hour before he was killed. The Air Force said he put himself in harm's way to engage the enemy and protect another incoming helicopter, a CH-47, carrying Army Rangers.
"John was always selfless -- it didn't just emerge on Takur Ghar -- he had always been selfless and highly competent, and thank God for all those qualities," said retired Air Force Col. Ken Rodriguez, Chapman's one-time commander. "He could have hunkered down in the bunker and waited for the [Quick Reaction Force] and [Combat Search and Rescue] team to come in, but he assessed the situation and selflessly gave his life for them."
The SEAL team's leader, Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer Britt K. Slabinski, received the Medal of Honor in May for his actions in the same battle.
"Britt and his team didn't even hesitate for a moment. They made their decision. For them it was an easy one. They went back to that mountain," Trump said at the time. "When their helicopter reached the mountain peak, they jumped out into a furious onslaught of machine gunfire like none of them had ever seen before."
In addition to Chapman, who was 36 at the time of his death, Roberts, 32; Army Sgt. Bradley S. Crose, 27; Sgt. Philip J. Svitak, 31; Spc. Marc A. Anderson; Pfc. Matthew A. Commons, 21; and Senior Airman Jason D. Cunningham, 26, died on Takur Ghar.