Unknown Sailor

S1c Naaman N. Chapman

Four days after he survived the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Noel Chapman posted a letter to his family in Mitchell in western Nebraska.

It was his sorrow to tell them that his older brother, Naaman N. Chapman, was killed in the attack on Dec. 7, 1941. Both had been assigned to the U.S.S. Arizona, with Naaman as a seaman first class.

In another letter a month earlier, Noel lamented that he missed spending time with his brother because they were never given shore leave at the same time.

Naaman Chapman was born Nov. 22, 1918, in Branson in southeast Colorado near the New Mexico border to Henry Chapman, a farmer, and Inez Moody Chapman, a homemaker. The family moved 400 miles due north to Mitchell in 1934. Naaman played football and performed in several plays at Mitchell High School, from which he graduated in 1937.

Naaman enlisted in November 1940 and Noel followed in March 1941.

Noel, who one news account said survived by swimming to shore, served in the Navy throughout World War II, including the invasion of Okinawa. When he wrote to his family just after the attack, he was already re-assigned to a new ship.

Noel died in February 2004 at the age of 83. His ashes were returned to the Arizona. Naaman’s body was never recovered and also remains in the sunken battleship.


Sources: The Mitchell (Nebraska) Index; the Honolulu Star Bulletin News; Mexia Daily News of Mexia, Texas; the Lincoln (Nebraska) Star; Census; Navy muster rolls; WWII military registration card. This profile was researched and written on behalf of the U.S.S. Arizona Mall Memorial at the University of Arizona.

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