by Kenneth Wilson
My personal reading convinced me that I should take time this Memorial Day and Fourth of July to honor my uncles who served in World War II. I am excited because there is so much available on the internet that we can get a better understanding. I then realized that we have family members that served. This interest in thanking those that serve was prompted by my readings. I have just finished reading “The Band of Brothers” by Stephen E. Ambrose. I am now reading “The Second World Wars” by Victor Davis Hanson. During the past two years I finished “The Liberation Trilogy” by Rick Atkinson. These readings have reminded me of my youth and the great things that my uncles did. These books are great reads and I highly recommend them. An additional stimulus was the miniseries “Five Came Back” based on the book of the same title by Mark Harris. Many of our family have served in the military and we are thankful because all came back.
I was one year old when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. My first memories of the war were conversations by family about those serving. Aunt Thelma was living next door awaiting the return of her husband, my uncle Shorty. She was excited that soon he would return home. My uncles were known only from photographs until I was five years old and the war ended. After the war was over it seemed to take forever for them to come home. One night Uncle Shorty came to the house and I was told that he was AWOL. I had no idea what AWOL meant. He sneaked off the base and came home for a quick visit with his family. I was told not to tell people about Uncle Shorty because he could get in real trouble if they caught him.
Soon we had homecomings and welcomed all three uncles home. Uncle Rogue lived next door with Grandpa Wilson. His room was the southeast quarter of the house. This room had been saved, unchanged, for him. We became good friends. Uncle Rogue was always pulling jokes on me and he was great at telling stories. I have written that up and called it Ode to Uncle Rogue, which I will attach also.
I remember one night (possibly the night that he was AWOL) when Uncle Shorty slept with me in the top bunk bed. This was great, an uncle that would sleep with me. Aunt Thelma slept with Sue in the bottom bunk. Dana who was a baby wanted her dad. She would only stop crying if he would sing to her. Problem, Uncle Shorty fell asleep and no one could wake him. Everyone in the house was awake except Uncle Shorty. No amount of hollering or shaking would wake him up. They even put Dana in the top bunk between us. Her crying didn’t wake him up. This was a nightmare and Shorty slept through it. The rationale was that Shorty was used to sleeping by the heavy artillery. He had learned to sleep through anything. He was a forward observer directing shelling on the front line. He would get sleep when he was back with his unit but next to the big gun.
Uncle Shorty and Aunt Thelma lived through the block from us. They seemed to spoil me. I still have a sword that he brought back from Germany for me. They gave great gifts for Christmas and birthdays. I remember a chemistry set that was important in my life. It may have been the thing that focused me on chemistry.
Uncle Cornell moved to North Salt Lake with Aunt Marie and cousin Dennis. We did visit them once or twice in NSL and at Grandpa Wilson’s home. I spent enough time to get to know but not very well.
Uncle Shorty (Francis Hilthon Chapman) joined the 84 Rail Splitter infantry (Activated 15 October 1942) in January 1943 for basic training. After this they trained in Louisiana until September 1944 when they assembled in New Jersey for overseas assignment. This elite jungle unit was sent to Europe, and they landed on Omaha Beach(1 November 1944). They attacked the Siegfried Line(16 November) in their first action near Geilenkirchen. The 84th had a history unit from the very start. I had read Uncle Shorty’s copy years ago. I was elated when I found that it was available from Google Books free. Search for “84thinfDivBattleofGermany”. Also available on youtube.com is the video of the 84th infantry division.
They participated in four phases of the attack on Germany.
1. The Siegfried Line (November -December1944)
2. The Ardennes (Battle of the Bulge) Dec 1944-Jan 1945)
3. From the Roer to the Rhine(Feb - March 1945)
4. The Rhine to the Elbe (April-May 1945)
Soldier from the 84th.
Chart Of Loved Ones Serving in the Military
Leone Arthur Tanner WW I - August 1918 Bakery Company 405 (possibly signal corps)
LeRoy “Rogue” Wilson - WW II
Francis “Shorty” Chapman - WW II
Cornell Wilson - WW II
Allan Frederick Good - USN WW II- Guadalcanal -18 Oct ’43 - 31 Jan 1946
Fred Waldo Jermain USAF
Scott M Dean USN 1982-1995
Cynthia Dean USN 1984-1986
Jeffrey Dean US Army