Gary Chapel

Gary Chapel

Gary was born in Flint, Michigan- yes that Flint- in 1939 and was told at an early age to stay away from the Flint River because it was polluted.  He graduated from Howell (MI) High School in 1957.  He won two letters in Football and four in Track and was the Captain of the Track team his senior year.  He was also an Eagle Scout and spent the summers as a Boy Scout Camp Counselor.  Immediately after graduation he entered the U. S. Naval Academy and graduated with distinction June 1961.  He was honored to march in President Kennedy’s Inaugural Parade, plus President Kennedy presented him with his diploma.

Gary was selected by Admiral Rickover (as were all officers) for the Nuclear Submarine Program and spent the next 18 months in schools to prepare him for shipboard duty.  His first submarine was the U.S.S Ethan Allen (SSBN-608) where he made six patrols of about 60 days each, underwater.  (Almost all of the first Polaris Missile subs were named after Revolutionary War Patriots).  He then spent two years teaching at the Nuclear Power School in Vallejo, CA and then on to the attack submarine U.S.S. Snook (SSN-592) until 1970 when he left the Navy.  Post Navy, he ran a small business, invested in real estate, was a real estate broker and was flipping beach rental properties in San Diego before it was called flipping.

In 1977 Gary joined the Convair Division of General Dynamics in San Diego and worked on the Tomahawk Cruise Missile.  When the division split in two, he chose to go with the Space Systems Division whose main products were the Atlas Rocket (former ICBM) and the Centaur upper stage rocket.  This division was bought by Martin Marietta and moved to Denver, and soon thereafter merged with Lockheed to become Lockheed Martin.  The last 9 years or so was spent working on the remodeling of a launch complex at Vandenberg AFB, where he retired in 1998 as the Chief Engineer.

After retirement he moved to Chapel Hill, NC (no it was not named after his family) and then to Austin in 2001.  He is married to the former Rose Ann Swanson and they have one daughter and two grandchildren, living about 2 miles from them.

My Patriot is Capt. John Crawford (5th Great Grandfather), a Minuteman from Oakham, MA.  He drilled his minutemen extensively before they answered the call to Lexington.  After two or three short alarms, his unit was called up to Bennington, VT and arrived there a week later.  He then was attached to Col Cushing’s Regiment and served with distinction at the Battle of Saratoga.  Upon the surrender of General Burgoyne, his company was part of the guard that escorted about half of the prisoners to Oakham, MA.  Once in Oakham, he enlisted his father, then aged 70 as a prison guard for about 2 months. His son, less than 15 years old, said he was 18 also enlisted as a prison guard for a little over month at Governor’s Island.  So I had three generations in the Revolutionary War.

This son of Capt. John (Alexander Crawford, my 4th Great Grandfather) had an interesting life.  After the war, President Washington created the first U.S. Armory at Springfield, MA and a merchant from Oakham was selected to set it up and manage it.  He hired Alexander, then a gunsmith, as one of the employees. Alexander plus another man built the first 1795 Springfield Musket, a virtual copy of the French Musket used in the Revolutionary War.  The 1795 Springfield Musket is the symbol of the U.S. Army Infantry, displayed on their patch and the Combat Infantry Medal.  Alexander married Bethia Willis, a descendant of 7 people on the Mayflower.  The Crawford history is well documented back to the 1100s in Scotland.

Other patriot ancestors are Capt. Peleg Ransom (Captain of a Company in 3rd Ulster County, NY Militia), John Moors (Pvt. In 15th Continental Regiment (MA), wintered over at Valley Forge), Samuel Blakslee (Drummer in Conn. 7th Regiment, wintered over at Valley Forge.  As Colonel had a NY Volunteer Regiment in War of 1812), William Lamb, (Pvt. in 15th Regiment Albany (NY) County Militia.  Captured by Indian Chief Joseph Brant and held at Fort Niagara for 2 ½ years.  His son was also captured at the same time. He was 11 and was held for the next 11 years in Montreal)