Handy Island

Handy Island
"The Air War Finds A Handy South Atlantic Island" was the caption on this Peter Hurd painting of Ascension Island, from Life Magazine, April 1945. It was the only place for pilots to refuel between Natal and West Africa.

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Army Tradition: Don't Change A Thing

The San Jose Mercury News
Thursday, August 22, 1996
William Ashley Chapman

"My Dad was a great guy, and a veteran of World War I.  He didn't like the Army much because of the ever present confusion and told me I would do well to keep out of it.

Roy Chapman of Goodwater Alabama was a sergeant in World War I.

His example was that when he reported for duty in 1917, they put him in a line, measured him and took his civvies.

The supply sergeant looked at his measurements and said, "We are all out of your size."  He handed him a bag of clothing and continued, "Take this stuff and if it doesn't fit, swap with someone."

Dad said it was like that all the time.

However, when I attended Auburn University, I decided to obtain a commission in the Army Reserve.  Graduating in 1941, as you might imagine, it was no time at all until I received my orders to report for one year of active duty "unless sooner relieved by the President."

Four and a half years later, I was finally released to the Army Reserve, where I remained until retirement.

Along the way, I attended the Army Command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, Kan., and found it to be a superbly run institution.  On graduation day, after having received detailed instructions as to how to accept the diploma from the general, we lined up to go into the auditorium for the exercise.

When I sat down, I observed that my name was on the edge of my seat.  I remarked to my seat mate how my dad, long deceased, would have been impressed by this precision.  This was just not like 1917!

When it came my turn to go up and receive my diploma, I performed flawlessly, but as I took it, the general leaned toward me and whispered:  "This is not your diploma.  You'll have to swap with the officer who has it.

The more things change, the more they remain the same.  Yes, Dad, you were right after all."

My grandfather, Roy Chapman, in one of those great campaign hats they wore in WW I. 1918 photo.

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