News

York County's connection to Medal of Honor nominee

Written by Sydney Musser/York Daily Record | Aug 29, 2016 5:51 AM
neil_roberts_burial.jpg

The body of Navy SEAL Neil C. Roberts was laid to rest at Prospect Hill Cemetery in 2006, four years after he died in Afghanistan at the hands of al-Qaida.(Photo: Jim McClure, York Daily Record)

(Undated) -- A video analysis is shedding new light on a 2002 battle in Afghanistan where SEAL Team Six attempted to rescue a soldier with ties to York County.

The New York Times reports that John Chapman, an Air Force technical sergeant, is being considered for the Medal of Honor after the analysis suggests that he battled alone in 2002 on an Afghan mountaintop.

Outnumbered and under fire, SEAL Team Six -- most famous for conducting the mission that killed Osama Bin Laden -- abandoned Chapman, believing he was dead.

Five SEALs were attempting to rescue Petty Officer First Class Neil C. Roberts, whose wife, Patricia, was born and raised in York County.

The York Daily Record has previously reported that Roberts' died before the rescue that Chapman was a part of was able to reach him.

Roberts' SEAL team was in a CH-47 Chinook helicopter, heading to the top of a mountain called Takur Ghar as part of Operation Anaconda, the U.S.-led offensive in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan to surround and destroy a large group of al-Qaeda fighters.

They had been told that the mountaintop was clear. But al-Qaeda fighters began firing at the large helicopter with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades from close range.

The chopper was hit. As it lurched away to safety, Roberts tumbled out the rear door and fell about 10 feet to the snowy ground. The severely damaged helicopter was unable to return for him immediately.

Later evidence showed that Roberts, vastly outnumbered, held out against the enemy for 90 minutes to two hours before being shot at close range. Unaware of his fate, would-be rescuers retook the ridge at a cost of several American lives.

It was in this attempted rescue that Chapman fought heroically.

Roberts, a Californian, was the first of more than 20 fighting men with local links to die in uniform in the War on Terror.

The SEAL was buried in Prospect Hill Cemetery, in Manchester Township.

This story is part of a partnership between WITF and the York Daily Record.

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