PAT KINNEY for the courier
WATERLOO – Fred Becker and Carl Chapman played for rival football teams in Crosstown, but were brothers in arms. Both gave their lives during World War I more than a century ago. Waterloo has an American Legion post appointed for them.
Now, two veterans of that post have compiled the stories of Becker and Chapman, and the story of their namesake Legion post, in hopes of keeping their memories alive and their post vibrant.
Army veteran Dennis Sommer and Navy veteran and accomplished author and journalist Mike Chapman donated their talents to produce a book, “Waterloo Warriors: The Inspiring Stories Behind Becker-Chapman Post 138”.
Chapman, a Waterloo native who lives in Newton, has done the research and writing and is listed as the author. Sommer provided the history of the Legion post and wrote the foreword.
Copies of the book will be available for the first time at a book signing in conjunction with the regular monthly buffet from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on November 12 at the post office, 728 Commercial St. The book will sell for $ 10 and the proceeds will be used to help the post assist veterans in need and maintain post facilities.
âIt was a labor of love,â said Sommer, a West High graduate in 1955 who was a US Army guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery in the 1950s. Historian of Post 138.
People also read …
Chapman, an East High graduate and unrelated to Carl Chapman, served in the Navy in the early 1960s. He is the author of over 30 books, founded the Iowa History Journal, and was a reporter for several Iowa newspapers. One of his first jobs was at The Courier, where Sommer was a long time display advertising representative.
âWe got together at the American Legion Post and I got to know Dennis,â Chapman said. “I love history. History is my passion. Always has been. I love Waterloo; it’s my hometown. When I met Dennis and saw his enthusiasm. … he’s like Me. He likes to see it happen. Without Dennis Sommer’s encouragement and support, I probably wouldn’t have done this.
âThese kids don’t know anything about Becker and Chapman,â Sommer said. âThey do the Sullivan brothers (from Waterloo who died in WWII), but these guys, they just don’t. Mike and I talked, and he said. âWell, we’ll write a book to keep their memory alive. My part of this was to put together the history of the Legion (post); he did the biographies of Becker and Chapman.
In his research on the two heroes, Mike Chapman said: âI was intrigued by the idea that they both died at the age of 22; they were both high school footballers, each rivals on opposite banks of the river (Cedar); the fact that the post bears their name. I just wanted to do more to keep their legacy alive, because I think it’s important for the younger generations to come. And, frankly, they deserve it.
It’s also important to support the post, which is open to the public, Sommer said. He helped start a veterans assistance program, providing assistance to financially struggling veterans; and a library of 800 to 1,000 volumes of books on various subjects.
Chapman was the driving force behind obtaining a Waterloo elementary school named after compatriot Becker, the University of Iowa’s first football player and United States Navy officer. He had done extensive research on Becker for earlier work.
âI had done so much for Fred Becker and I started to take a great interest in Carl Chapman,â said Mike Chapman.
Chapman, a West High graduate, attended Amherst College in Massachusetts. He was a fighter pilot in the famous “Escadrille Lafayette”, a squadron of American pilots who flew for France before the United States officially entered the First World War. After the United States entered the war in April 1917, Chapman flew for the US Air Service.
According to Courier files, Becker was killed while leading an attack on a German machine gun nest near Vierzon, France on June 18, 1918. He destroyed the German firing site but was killed by a fragment of shell. He was awarded the US Distinguished Service Cross and the French Croix de Guerre. He is buried at Fairview Cemetery in Waterloo, a grave in a circle of fellow World War I soldiers.
Chapman first served as a French ambulance driver before becoming a fighter pilot, Courier records show. He was shot down in flames and killed in aerial combat over Toul, France on May 3, 1918, after attacking five patrolling German planes and shooting down one. He is buried at the Escadrille Lafayette memorial in France. Waterloo’s first airfield was named in his honor, according to Courier records.
âI hope it goes well,â Sommer said. He would also like a portion of the book sales to be made available to West High, with the school’s approval, for ongoing Chapman recognition, perhaps as part of a renovation of the desks area. flag poles.