Honoring Our Heroes: Stories of Service and Sacrifice
Among the many accomplished residents who live at The Commons is an elite group with the unique and distinguished title of “veteran.”
These men and women selflessly served our country, demonstrating an unwavering commitment to freedom.
This month, we honor the heroes who live among us, highlighting two: Dan Chamberlain and Bob Morrison.
Dan was 22 years old and a recent graduate of Denison University when he enlisted in the Navy.
He went to Officer Candidate School in Newport, RI, in June 1952, after which the Navy shipped him to Japan.
“I was stationed happily with my best friend from Officer Candidate School,” Dan says. “We were stationed in a cryptography unit that served the Commander of the Naval Forces of the Far East.”
While there, Dan handled sensitive communications, encoding outgoing and decoding incoming messages.
Dan was on duty on the night of June 23, 1954, when the signing of the Armistice in Panmunjom effectively ended the Korean War. “That message came in, and I decoded it,” he recalls
He had arrived in Japan as a bachelor but left as a married man. His college sweetheart Salli joined him in the Far East, and the couple tied the knot on August 5, 1953.
They built a house in a nearby town because he did not have enough priority points to secure married housing on the Naval Base.
“I commuted to work on the train, and she stayed home. That lasted until October of 1954, at which point I received orders to a ship,” he says
Pregnant, Salli returned home to the States, and Dan boarded the flagship for the U.S. Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean. “She delivered our firstborn, and I was floating around the Mediterranean with the Admiral on board and hitting all the best Liberty Ports,” he says.
Dan was accepted to Harvard Business School but could not delay enrollment until the end of his service. “I had to ask for early separation, which was granted, and I flew home,” he says. Dan met Salli in Massachusetts at an apartment neither had seen, with a child he had not yet met.
Dan’s service inspired his granddaughter to join the Marines, where she is a captain.
“I think the lesson I learned (in the military) was independence. That first night, I was trying to fall asleep in a barracks surrounded by a barbed wire fence with a Marine guard with a 45-automatic, and for the first time in 21 years, I couldn’t go where I wanted to go when I wanted to go,” Dan says. “I was just like, ‘son-of-a-gun, this is what it’s like being out on your own, and you can do this.’”
Dan applied that lesson to other significant changes in his life, whether going to graduate school, heading into a strange city for his first job, or having a child.
“With any major change in life,” he says. “I know I can do this.”
Military service represents an admirable chapter in one’s life. It was not one but two chapters for resident Bob Morrison, who served twice.
Bob volunteered for the U.S. Naval Reserve from 1950-1952, stationed in Pittsfield, Mass. “It was a submarine unit located 100 miles away from any ocean water,” he recalls. “I never was in a submarine or even saw one in my two years of service.”
Just a year after leaving the Navy in 1953, Bob was starting his sales career when the Army drafted him. He was a Master-at-Arms (MP) in an infantry company as part of the 3rd Division quartered at Fort Benning, Georgia.
“I served as an MP in our division for the two years I was in the service,” Bob says. “My duties were not only directing traffic and investigating problems but (also) escorting a hierarchy that came down to Fort Benning every so often, including the Secretary of State.”
Toward the end of his service, a commanding guard took note of Bob’s high intelligence and asked him to train for an intelligence unit and an Army career. Bob declined, returning to civilian life and the plans he had made.
“I had a nice job, and that’s why I wanted to get back from the Army once I got drafted,” says Bob. “I couldn’t wait to get out of the Army and have a family.”
Bob says he believes all young people should serve in some capacity. “It was a great eye-opener to the world.”