Edmonds resident and World War II veteran Amos Chapman Jr. recently received the Congressional Gold Medal for his participation in the U. S. Navy during war activities in the Philippines. The medal is the highest honor Congress can bestow on an American.
In a letter that accompanied the medal, Washington’s US Senator Patty Murray lauded Chapman’s contributions, saying “You have demonstrated incredible dedication tour country, and your sacrifices will never be forgotten.” He was one of 28 veterans who received the award, 26 of whom are now deceased, at the event held Oct. 19 at the Mt. Tahoma High School Auditorium in Tacoma.
Since the American Revolution, Congress has commissioned gold medals as its highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions, according to Sen. Murray, who is a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee.
Amos, now 94 years old, is still an active member of Edmonds American Legion Post 66 and Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 8870. The award was given to recognize his service along with his fellow Washington State Filipino and American World War II veterans, according to Murray’s letter.
Amos joined the Navy in May 1943, at the age of 17. He was assigned to serve aboard the Fletcher-Class destroyer, USS Killen, in the Pacific as a Fire Controller. His ship was engaged in the Battles for Leyte Gulf during which the ship was under constant attack by artillery, air and Kamikaze attacks.
On Aug. 19, 1944 the USS Killen sailed from Port Angeles, Washington and escorted a convoy from Pearl Harbor and arrived at Manus, Admiralty Islands on September 14. Following training exercises the destroyer departed Hollandia on October 12 with the Central Philippine Attack Force that arrived off San Pedro Bay on the 20th. For the next five days she gave day and night fire support to troops ashore on Leyte, and during one 30-minute period on the 21st silenced three enemy artillery positions.
When the Japanese Navy decided to contest the landings in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the Killen’s squadron engaged the enemy at Surigao Strait. On the morning of October 25, 1944, the USS Killen launched five torpedoes toward the Japanese battleship Yamashiro. One hit, slowing the Japanese ship to 5 knots, enabling other American destroyers to maneuver for the destruction of the Yamashiro.
In the widespread fleet actions for Leyte, covering hundreds of thousands of nautical miles, the U.S. Fleet reduced the Japanese Fleet to an ineffective force thus greatly speeding up the advance toward Japan and end of the war.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and the American Legion organizations are the two “best known” veterans associations for U.S. military veterans. They are both committed to assisting all military veterans for over 100 years. For more information on both organizations, visit the following websites: www.legion.org/ and www.vfw.org.
Photo cutline: Amos Chapman Jr. displays the Congressional Gold Medal he recently received for his participation in the Philippines during World War II. (Photo by Dan Mullene)