An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Home : Our Story : Our News : Article Display
NEWS | Jan. 12, 2023

Arctic Angel Awarded Soldier's Medal

By John Pennell 11th Airborne Division

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska – A Memorial Day outing spent with family on a whale-watching cruise ended with an 11th Airborne Division soldier risking his own safety to rescue car crash victims on his drive home.

Sgt. 1st Class Andrew D. Chapoton was traveling on the Seward Highway headed back to JBER when a vehicle crossed the centerline and crashed into the vehicle in front of his. Chapoton helped extract three trapped, severely injured civilians from burning vehicles and assisted emergency medical service and law enforcement personnel at the crash scene May 30, 2022, about seven miles north of Seward, Alaska.

Chapoton’s actions were recognized as he received the Soldier’s Medal during a ceremony here, Jan. 12. The Soldier's Medal, the highest honor a soldier can receive for an act of valor in a non-combat situation, was established in 1926 and is awarded for heroic actions on behalf of fellow soldiers or civilians.

“I know he'll say things like ‘everybody else would have done the same thing,’ but he was there, and he did (what was needed),” said Maj. Gen. Brian S. Eifler, 11th Airborne Division commanding general, as he presented Chapoton with the medal. “I know he's apprehensive about this ceremony, as most of us would be, but this is really important to recognize when we have a soldier totally go above and beyond, even off duty, to save lives, to make a difference at the risk of his own, without hesitation and without question.”

“I'm truly humbled to be recognized for doing simply something I was trained to do,” Chapoton said. “Without question every paratrooper in this room would react the same way I did.”

He noted civilian bystanders also assisted with the rescues, which he called “a true team effort.”