My brother and I are identical twins. All through school, no one could tell us apart; they just called us “the Chappell twins.” We graduated from Ravenna Township High School in 1950 and worked for nearly a year in the A&P supermarket. The talk of all our fellow graduates was the Korean War and “who would get drafted.” We were also helping our parents, Walter and Mildred Chappell, run a dairy farm on our sixty-acre Ravenna, Ohio, property and on an additional 145 acres in nearby Freedom.
Our chronicle (in the form of letters written to our parents) reports our exciting experiences during four years (March 1951–February 1955) in the military service. We were both prolific letter writers, and Mom saved every letter.
In 1998, we edited more than three hundred letters, condensing every three or four letters down to one in the process of deleting redundancies and idle talk—the weather, happenings at home, who sent cookies that never arrived, etc. Whenever we collapsed a number of letters into one—as, for example those of September 5, 9, and 11, 1952—we simply marked the letter with the last date (September 11, 1952).
Our story is typical of those of many Navy corpsmen who served with the Marine Corps. It is a serviceman-to-parent story that advances through varied assignments: boot camp; Hospital Corps School, U.S. Naval Hospital, and Fleet Marine Force training; duty in Korea on the front line, in battalion aid stations, and in the field medical hospital; and a tour in the Military Sea Transportation Service.