Colaborador: Crystal Created: 1 year ago Updated: 1 year ago
Autobiography written March 13, 2001
I was born May 21, 1924, in North Ogden, Utah, to wonderful and hard-working parents. North Ogden was a little town located about 5 miles north of Ogden at the foot of Ben Lomond Peak, which is about 10,000 feet high. I was one of 14 children (nine boys and five girls) with nine children older and five children younger. I don’t remember anything about my younger years until I started school. I can remember walking to school over to the old North Ogden School, which was close to the old church that had a balcony. The North Ogden School and the old North Ogden church were located about six or seven blocks east of Washington Boulevard at the base of the sleigh riding hill on Washington Boulevard where the highway divides and one branch turns westward and goes to Pleasant View. The old church was entered from the south just across from Deamer’s home. Also, it had a metal fire escape of stairs that went up to a recreational hall where they played basketball and showed films. I remember playing a lot of marbles while attending the North Ogden School. I attended school for a while at the North Ogden School, then at Pleasant View and also at Far West school, but I don’t know the dates. Playing marbles was very hard on the knees of our overalls. I think the first thing that I remember is the time that Bob and I were playing by the granary on the east side by the basement window and we dropped something through the window opening that went into the basement onto the dirt floor. Bob and I went running around the granary to the west side to go down to the basement to get what we had dropped through the window opening. When we got to the bottom of the steps, Bob stumbled and fell on some broken glass from a bottle. The glass cut his artery at the wrist and he bled profusely. Bob had lots of trouble with the stitches breaking loose and the wound bleeding again. It took a long time for it to get better. You can still see the scar today.
The address of my folks home where I was born is 246 East Elberta Dr., North Ogden, Utah, 84404. The road (Elberta drive) runs east and west which used to be a dirt road. There used to be only four or five homes along this road out to Pleasant View. The house had two bedrooms, a small kitchen, and a small dining room. We had to haul water to the house from a well out beside the chicken coop. Dad’s blacksmith shop was torn down because it was too hard for Dad to collect money for work done through the depression. (The tools of Owen’s father’s blacksmith shop were his grandfather’s. His grandfather was also a blacksmith. Even though the blacksmith shop was torn down, the tools were at the house in the barn. Those tools were then donated to the church at the Nauvoo blacksmith shop and are still used today.) The little chicken coop was also torn down. The honey house was located north behind the big chicken coop. It was used to extract honey from the bees once a year. The honey was always given to people by Dad and Mom, as well as fruit from the trees. They never did charge for anything. I do remember taking a couple of chickens into Doctor Wherry whenever I needed dental work, which was only a couple times.
Verle, Bob, and myself were close in age, so we were together most of the time. We slept in the granary all the time with the older boys and we always played outside. The house was too full. I never remember eating a meal in the kitchen with all the family at the table, because there was no room. We always ate in two shifts. We would pick fruit (cherries, apricots, peaches) for Harvey Chandler who lived upon the hill above us. We got paid one half a cent per pound for picking cherries. Apricots were not even picked most of the time because it wasn’t worth picking. We got paid by the bushel for picking peaches. When we pulled weeds and thinned beets we were lucky to get $.10 an hour. In our early teens, Bob and I used to trap muskrats and mink to earn a little money. We would place our traps along the North Ogden Canal during the nighttime because of school during the day. We would leave from home about 2 AM with a flashlight and hip boots and walk in the canal all the way over past Randall’s property above five points and back to Pleasant View. We did this in the winter every night, usually with snow and ice. Sometimes we would fall in the canal or step in a hole and fill our boots with ice and water and fight to keep warm until we walked home. I enjoyed trapping, but it made it hard to stay awake in school. Sometimes we would catch ducks and skunks.
I attended junior high at a school in North Ogden located next to the baseball park where North Ogden Cherry Days used to be held. I remember we use to canvass the grounds under the stands looking for Popsicle sticks with free stamped on them.
I remember when I used to milk Harvey Chandler’s cows. I would milk 20 cows by hand every morning and every night. My arms would ache during the night, but I was happy to have the job, even if it did keep me from going to any activities or games.
I graduated from Weber High School in May, 1942, which was not long after the Japs bombed Pearl Harbor. I worked at the Army Supply Depot, which was west of Washington Boulevard at five points. I remember when we heard that Pearl Harbor was bombed in Hawaii on December 7, 1941. When I finished high school in May, 1942, I worked at the Army Supply Depot located west of Washington Boulevard on second Street in Ogden. I remember when Earl Blodgett would pick Verle and I up at home in his convertible and we would go to work with him. He was Verle’s age and was a pretty wild driver. When October 1942, rolled around, I went to Wyoming with Bill elk hunting, and seeing so many elk out there.
I worked in a warehouse which furnished all kinds of shoes and boots for the military. In September 1942, I went to Wyoming with Bill to hunt elk and was lucky. When I got home, I went to Salt Lake and enlisted in the Air Force at Fort Douglas. Four days later I was shipped to Las Vegas by train to their aerial gunnery school. At this time I didn’t know the difference between a colonel and a private. I sure didn’t know anything about the military and I was afraid to do anything. I took boot camp training at Las Vegas, on December 26, 1942. I went by military convoy to Kingman, Arizona, to set up another aerial gunnery school. We slept in their buildings next to the runways. I worked as a mechanic on AT–6 planes that were used to take the gunners up in the air to do air to air gunnery practice. We would get up at 4 AM every morning to do a preflight inspection on the planes, then taxi them down to be ready for the pilots and gunners to use them. While at Kingman Gunnery School, I made PFC (Private First Class), a month later I was made corporal, and 10 days later Sergeant, mostly because so many people were enlisting in the Air Force.
While at Las Vegas gunnery school and Kingman gunnery school, many of the men asked me why I didn’t go into the Air Force Cadets. I didn’t even know what it was. I stayed on the air base and didn’t go into the cities very much, so some of the men would give me some of their money to keep while they went in to town to drink. They told me not to give it back to them, even if they came back during the night to get their money.
I finally took the exams to enter the cadet program and was accepted. I was sent by train to Miami Beach, Florida on July 26, 1943. While in the cadet program, I maintained my rank of Sergeant getting a little better pay than a private, which earned $30 a month.
(Another version that Owen wrote) At 18 years old, I enlisted in the US Air Corps at Fort Douglas, in Salt Lake City, Utah, on November 2, 1942. I went by train to Las Vegas Gunnery School at Las Vegas, Nevada, on November 6, 1942 (Monday). I took basic training at the air base, and on December 26, 1942, went by convoy to Kingman, Arizona, to help set up the Kingman Aerial Gunnery School. At Kingman, I worked on the AT–6 planes that flew to let the gunners fire at air to air target practice. Everyone asked me why I didn’t go into the Aviation Cadets, so I finally took all the exams and was accepted into the Aviation Cadet program. By this time I had advanced to the rank of Sergeant, so I went through cadets with the rank of Sergeant. I was sent to Miami Beach, Florida, on July 26, 1943, where we all stayed in a hotel on the Miami Beach until September 18, 1943. While at Miami Beach, we did a lot of close order drill, guard duty, plus other assignments. The time at Miami Beach was very hot with no air conditioning and we would sleep with no quilts and sweat to death. We all had a lot of heat rash due to the high temperatures, and they issued campaign hats to shield the sun.
On September 18, 1943, we shipped out to North Carolina State University at Raleigh, North Carolina, where we really ran into the Cadet program; hazing and sabers and all that goes along with the program. We attended regular University classes as military groups always marching with the bands. The classes seemed easy to me, but all the hazing was hard to take.
We shipped out of Raleigh and on to Nashville, Tennessee, on February 20, 1944, to take about two weeks of exams for classification, as to whether we would qualify as a pilot, bombardier, or navigator training. I qualified in all three of the options, so I had my choice. Since all of pilot training schools were overcrowded and had a few months waiting period, I chose to go to bombardier training school, since there were immediate openings in that program. I was shipped out to Greenville Basic Flying School in Mississippi, on March 4, 1944. On March 23, 1944, I was then shipped to Pre-Flight School at Montgomery, Alabama. This place was also very strict with cadet regulations and very strong discipline. Wherever we went, we marched with the band, and anyone of us could be expected to be pulled out a formation and be braced and hazed. I remember one of the cadets being drummed out of the cadets at two in the morning in front of all of the other cadets. After finishing preflight school, I was shipped to Tyndall Field at Panama City, Florida, to go through Aerial Gunnery School for 10 weeks. We started out by shooting skeet with shotguns. We would shoot all day long and would end up getting powder burns because of so much shooting. We then would ride around the track in the back of a pickup and shoot at skeet while we traveled around the track and have the birds come from all different angles, and we would also have to shoot at two or three birds thrown at once. We then started shooting shotguns mounted on an airplane turret. We would shoot at birds (clay pigeons) thrown out for us to get used to shooting the turrets. The last phase of the gunnery school was air to air shooting from AT–6’s at a tow target pulled behind a B–26. All the shells we fired had been marked with different colored paint on the end of the slugs so that they could score the holes in the target and see how many hits we each achieved. When we finished the program we were placed in tents at the edge of the airbase to wait to be shipped to Bombardier School. The weather was so hot and the mosquitoes so bad that we would sneak up on the airbase and try to find an empty bunk to sleep that was inside a barracks. I was sent to a Bombardier School at Roswell, New Mexico, on 1 August 1944. We spent a great deal of time at first studying all about the Norden bombsite. It was classified as top-secret, so we really had tight security when we would check the bombsite out to be used. We were instructed to make sure we destroyed the bombsite if we were ever shot down. After learning all about the bombsite, we started to use it by bombing moving targets in large hangers from high moving platforms. We then started to drop practice bombs at targets located in the desert using AT–11’s, a twin-engine plane. We always had two bombardiers to a plane, because one would take pictures of where the bombs hit as the other one would drop the bombs. The bombardier’s program lasted for about five months. This also included navigation training. We also did quite a bit of navigation training and bombing training in trainers.
We could project maps of different cities of Japan in which we would navigate to and from designated targets and then navigate the trainer back to our home base. When I graduated from the Roswell Bombardier School, I was surprised that they called my name to receive a set of Bombardier’s Silver Wings engraved with “Highest Percent of Combat Hits.” I had obtained the highest percent of combat hits in the group, so they awarded me the wings. Mom and Dad had come down from North Ogden to Roswell on a bus to attend the graduation. I will never forget them doing that, because I was scheduled to go to California and join the crew to go to the South Pacific.
I rode home on a Greyhound bus from Roswell, New Mexico, to Ogden, Utah, with Mom and Dad. We rode north to Denver, then west to Ogden. Most of the traveling was very cold and hazardous because we had snow most of the way. After graduating from bombardier school at Roswell, I had a choice to go to Lemoore, California, for B-24’s or to Lincoln, Nebraska, for B-29s. Since I was told we would get into action quicker by going to B-24’s in California, I chose to go there. So after spending a few days at home in North Ogden, I took the bus to Lemoore, California, where we picked up our crew of 10 men (a pilot, copilot, bombardier/navigator, and six gunners), we flew as a crew and squadron all the time. We all had our shots and vaccinations for overseas and were assigned to the fifth Air Force in the South Pacific. We flew as a squadron. We kept flying to Hawaii and spent two weeks before returning to Lemoore, California, out of the airbase at the dry lake near Lemoore, California. We always took off with the maximum bomb load and maximum ammo and extra machine gun barrels. The bombardier is always the armament officer of the crew and was responsible for all the gunners and their ammo, guns, and equipment, as well as always loading the bombs and protecting the Norton bombsite and destroying it if need be, and not let the enemy get it. While at Aerial Gunnery School I specialized in the Sperry Ball Turret, since I was small, because it was very compact and we couldn’t wear a parachute in it. Most of our flying was done out over the ocean to let us practice navigation and strafing at low levels. As a bombardier, we flew the plane some of the time so we would be able to fly the plane if we had to fly back home. We then got transferred to March Field at Riverside, California, where we flew for a few months doing the same kind of flying as before.
We went by troop train to Boise, Idaho, in July 1945, where we continued to fly as a squadron bombing and strafing. On August 6, 1945, the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima destroying the whole city. It was dropped from a B-29 and was a U–235 bomb. The Japanese would not give up so we dropped the second bomb (a Pu–239) on August 9 destroying Nagasaki. Each one of those bombs energy was equivalent to 20,000 tons of TNT. The Japanese surrendered in the Pacific. The War ended, but we kept flying as a squadron bombing, strafing, with a lot of flying over the Pacific Ocean as well as over the Western United States photo bombing Grand Coulee dam and Boulder (Hoover) dam.
I spent three years in the US Air Force as a bombardier navigator assigned to the fifth Air Force in the South Pacific. Our squadron went to Hawaii in preparation for the invasion of the main island of Japan scheduled for November 1945. The first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima August 6, 1945 and the second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki August 9, 1945, the war then ended.
(In 2013, when I, Mark Chapman, got interested in family history, I was talking to my mother, Carol Shupe, about Owen and his military career. Owen and my mother were married in 1985 and were married until he died 21 years later. She mentioned that he was one of the best bombardiers the Air Corp had. She said that Owen was selected to be the bombardier to drop the 3rd nuclear bomb on Tokyo, Japan. My mother told me that he had said this to her after being married to her for about 10 years (1995). I never remember Owen talking about what he did in the military as a bombardier. Someone had also told Owen that nuclear power was going to be the next big thing in history, so when Owen was discharged from the military he then went on to study nuclear engineering in college and graduate school.)
Finally, after the war ended in Europe, I had the chance to be released from the Air Force with an honorable discharge, so I was released November 1945, from Boise, Idaho. After getting home at North Ogden, I went about three weeks out to McGill, Nevada, with my brother Bill and his family. He was on a ranch and I hunted deer for hides and trapped bobcats, coyotes, and badgers. I had two of the bobcats mounted and gave Bill one of them. I had about 15 deer hides that I sent to Minnesota to have them tanned and made into clothes and gloves.
I started attending Weber State College and graduated in 1948 with an Associates of Science of Engineering. I then spent four years at the Colorado School of Mines receiving a professional degree of metallurgical engineering in June 1952. I then worked for General Electric in Richland, Washington for about four years in designing nuclear fuel elements for atomic reactors for producing weapons material for atomic weapons. I left Richland September 1955, to move to Salt Lake City to attend the University of Utah as a PhD candidate in metallurgical engineering. I worked with Doctor Melvin Cook with high explosives on impulsive loading of metals. I graduated June 1959 with a PhD in metallurgical engineering from the University of Utah and went to work for Phillips Petroleum Company at NRTS at Arco, Idaho. I worked with making fuel elements for atomic reactors with various uranium and plutonium compounds. I did the fuel material design for the advanced test reactor which is now running at Arco, Idaho and has the highest neutron flux of any reactor in the world, and is used for testing materials in high neutron flux.
I received my PhD in metallurgy in June 1959. I then moved to Riverside, Idaho, into a new home. I rode the bus every day to work out on the desert to work for Phillips Petroleum Company. I did research in fuel materials for atomic reactors. For a down payment on the house, since finishing school left us broke, we painted some of this building and a Laundromat building in Blackfoot. Time wise, we painted about 500 hours to complete the job, which was a real job for evenings and weekends. While at Riverside, Lois worked in the MIA as secretary of the MIA. The first summer there I spent a week at scout camp with the scouts at Palisades. In 1960, Doctor Watkins, head of mechanical engineering department at Utah State University, offered me a job teaching, which I turned down. The spring of 1961, he approached me again, and after much deliberation I decided to move to Logan to teach at Utah State University. We rented a home ($110/month) from Meg Larson at 295 E. 5 N. The first year I taught engineering measurements, thermodynamics, and nuclear engineering.
The summer of 1962 was spent by going to an AEC Institute of advanced reactor kinetics at the University of Illinois. This was eight weeks and I took my family and we lived in the girls’ dorm. We saw big Fourth of July fireworks while there in the football stadium. Weather was hot and humid while there. We bought a 16 foot nomad camper trailer at Mattoon, Illinois. Lois’s father and mother came back a week before the Institute finished and we visited places he had been serving on a mission. We drove to Palmyra one weekend to see the pageant. I was very pleased with the performance. We visited the Kirtland Temple on Saturday morning, and then went on to Palmyra and after getting rained on, saw the Saturday night performance of the pageant, then drove all night of Sunday to get back to Champaign, Illinois.
After six years in Washington with General Electric Company at Hanford atomic plant operations in Richland Washington and at the national reactor testing station Arco, Idaho, I joined the mechanical engineering department at Utah State University, September 1961.
After completing 30 years of teaching and research at Utah State University I retired July 1991. I then accepted a calling from the LDS church to serve an 18 month mission to Germany with my wife Carol. We went to Bremen, Germany, where we spent four months proselyting. I was then called to be the executive secretary to the European Area Presidency. Carol and I expanded our mission to two years to fulfill that assignment. I returned home the fall of 1993. While serving as Executive Secretary, I was able to put some of my professional knowledge to use by making a year study of the radioactivity around Kiev, and also Minsk, and Belorussia. We had three missions in Russia at that time, with Kiev being about 90 miles southwest of Chernobyl, and Minsk being northwest of Chernobyl, which was the direction of the wind when the nuclear accident occurred at Chernobyl. I obtained film badges from a German laboratory located at Munich, Germany. They also read the badges for us during the year. We distributed them to some of the missionaries and mission presidents. They were then returned to the area presidency headquarters in Frankfurt and we had the laboratory in Munich process the badges for us, which we reported the results each month to the area presidency.
After returning home from our mission we moved to Mesa, Arizona, where Carol’s house was located. We have lived here for the past six years serving a four-year mission at the Mesa Temple, and an 18 month calling at the bishops storehouse in Mesa. During the spring of 1997 and 1998 I helped the engineering faculty at Arizona State University judge the Baja motor vehicle competition held at the Caterpillar test facilities in the Valley of the Sun. I was proud to judge and see the good participation by Doctor Haycock and his students both years. About 80 universities throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico participated in the event.
I married Lois Mathis on May 24, 1951, and we moved to Golden Colorado where I was attending Colorado school of mines. Karen was born in Denver, Colorado, January 14, 1952, by C-section as a preemie. We then moved to Richland, Washington. Keith was born while we were at Richland on February 5, 1954. Carl was born in Salt Lake City on October 17, 1958, while I was doing graduate work at the University of Utah. While at Utah State University, my wife Lois passed away on July 23, 1985, after much trouble. On October 12, 1985, Carol Christensen Chapman and I were married in the Mesa Temple for time only. Lois and I knew her and her husband, Telford, while we were at the University of Utah. Telford had passed away nine years earlier.
My oldest child, and only daughter at the age of 35, had the first heart-lung transplant at the University of Utah Medical Center in January 1987, and survived for five months, then passed away leaving a husband and two children. My two boys, Keith and Karl, both graduated from Utah State University in mechanical engineering: Keith in 1980 and Karl in 1983. Keith is an engineer at Alliance Tech systems in Layton, and Karl is an engineer at Thiokol Corporation near Brigham City.
Carol and I are still living in Mesa, Arizona, filling some LDS church assignments. Owen died February 11, 2006, in Mesa, Arizona, after a seven-year battle with prostate cancer. He was buried February 18, 2006 in Logan, Utah.