Retired Nov. 1, 1965. Died May 18, 2002.
James William Chapman Jr., was born in Austin, Texas, in 1911. His military career began when he joined the Texas National Guard in 1930 while he was a student at the University of Texas. After graduating from the University of Texas in 1934, he entered the Aviation Cadet Program at Randolph and Kelly fields, Texas where he received his pilot wings and second lieutenant bars in October 1935. He remained on active duty until he joined Pan American Airways at Brownsville, Texas, in 1937 as a pilot. Two years later he resigned from Pan American Airways and accepted a regular officer's commission in the U.S. Army Air Corps.
One of General Chapman's most interesting assignments was in 1941, when he was assigned as pilot to Averill Harriman on his mission to Moscow. The Harriman mission was in the U.S.S.R. for three months, and General Chapman traveled extensively. During this time he met several Russian leaders, including Stalin and Molotov.
Later in 1941, General Chapman was assigned to ferry fighter aircraft from the United States to England. The experience gained from this mission led to an assignment in the Arctic, with the Air Transport Command, where he pioneered the air routes which became vitally useful during World War II. He surveyed the air route to Japan via Alaska and the Aleutians, and accomplished the first aerial survey of Greenland. In addition, he was the project officer for establishing the Arctic Long Range Navigation System (LORAN), and re-establishing U.S. bases in Greenland.
In 1942 General Chapman led the first group of fighter aircraft to ever cross the South Atlantic and Africa. He has held command positions throughout the Pacific Theater, notably in New Guinea and Guam.
General Chapman is a graduate of the Air Command and Staff School and the Air War College of the Air University at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. Following his graduation from the Air War College, he remained at Maxwell Air Force Base as secretary, Air University, and later as assistant chief of staff for plans and operations.
He graduated from, and was rated as an aircraft commander at the B-47 Advanced Flying School at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan., in 1955.
His other assignments included a three year tour in Japan where he commanded the 374th Troop Carrier wing and Tachikawa Air Base, and served as vice-commander of the 315th Air Division. He was assistant deputy of operations at Headquarters Tactical Air Command prior to assuming command of the 4510th Combat Crew Training Wing (tactical fighter) at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., in January 1959. He served in this position until he assumed command of the 1501st Air Transport Wing (Heavy)(Military Air Transport Service), at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., in July 1961. The wing is responsible for the airlifting of men and materiel to military forces in the Far East as well as maintaining a readiness posture to transport a large force of men or materials to any area in the world with a minimum of notice.