Capt. John L. Chapin - Company E - 1940

When most people in the Fort Bliss and El Paso communities hear the name “Chapin,” they think of the high school in the northeast neighborhood area. Most do not know the school is named after native El Pasoan and World War II hero Capt. John L. Chapin.

Chapin was born March 15, 1913, and attended grade school and high school in El Paso and Ysleta school districts. He met his wife, Velma, when he was 9 years old and they married April 21, 1937. He went on to earn a chemical engineering degree from Texas A&M in1936. A National Guard unit approached Chapin about becoming their chemical warfare officer. He decided to join them, because he wanted to attend medical school and the extra money would help him pay for it. He only planned on being in the unit for a year, but the unit was activated a short time later as E Company, 141st Infantry Regiment, 36th Division.

While in training, Chapin was promoted to captain and assumed command of the company. The men of E Co. respected Chapin for his skill as an officer and his fairness in dealing with daily grind of military duty. It was at this time that the men of E Co. gave Chapin his nickname, “Daddy Long Legs,” though most addressed him as “Captain John.”
The failed Rapido crossing Jan. 22, 1944, was a critical, but suicidal, mission. Chapin led his men across against heavy opposition. E Co. was one of the few units to actually get across the river. Chapin was found in his foxhole with a telephone in one hand and his carbine in the other. He earned the Silver Star for his heroics at the Rapido River.

Uploaded on 05.16.2017 by El Paso Museum of History

Out of Area / Out of Area, (1940 - 1949), War

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Capt. John L. Chapin - Company E - 1940

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