2 World War II veterans receive VIP tour of Fort Rucker
December 18, 2009
By Lisa Gee
FORT RUCKER Ala. -- Arthur Chapman and Garland Middleton are part of what many call the "greatest generation" who fought for the nation in World War II.
Both from Blakely, Ga., the two World War II veterans toured several Army Fleet Support worksites here this fall.
Chapman is a Pearl Harbor survivor. He served with the Transportation Corps as an ambulance driver at Tripler Hospital on Dec. 7, 1941. He spent the first 24 hours after the bombing of Pearl Harbor evacuating wounded and casualties to Tripler for medical treatment or a gymnasium turned into a temporary morgue.
He spent the next six days transporting those killed in action for burial in a makeshift cemetery.
Middleton served stateside from 1944-1945.
AFS general manager John Hamlin met the veterans during a recent visit to the Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. He promised the men a future tour and delivered on that promise Oct. 30.
The AFS tour began that morning at Lowe Field then proceeded to Knox Field and ended at Hanchey Field. Army Fleet Support employees made sure the veterans knew how much they were appreciated. During the first stop at Lowe Field, the two men were greeted by La-Ponce Harrison, a lead AFS aircraft mechanic, singing the "Star-Spangled Banner," which one of the veterans described as "even better than George Jones."
As the veterans entered each AFS facility, employees stopped and thanked them for their service with handshakes and hugs.
At the end of the day, Middleton and Chapman both said the tour was great.
"I've never seen anything like it ... when we drove up, everything just stopped ... for us. The first one really got to me," Middleton said as he wiped his eyes. "I wasn't expecting that and it really was very touching."
"Today was very impressive, and I really enjoyed it," Chapman said. "I've never felt so proud. I know we've never had anything like this before. Thank you."