World War veterans reminisced in ’80s

The Telegram, Feb. 9, 1983

“Four Area Veterans Recall WWI During Reunion”

By Kay Ricketts and Virginia Fleming

Four World War I veterans of the North Lewisburg area had opportunity to recall their wartime activities during a reunion to honor the 98th birthday of veteran Charles Chapman.

The guest of honor became ill unexpectedly and was unable to attend, but dinner, his birthday cake and ice cream were taken to his home for he and his wife, Mabel.

The three remaining World War I veterans—Paul Chamberlain, Oliver Livingston and Ralph Westfall—related some of their experiences.

Westfall had petitioned the senior citizens women’s organization of North Lewisburg to help plan and prepare the honorary meal.

Westfall enlisted in 1918 and served in Company M, 330 Infantry, and Company E, 101 26th Division, and then went to France with the expedition forces of the U.S. Army. He then went to the St. Mihiel Sector, Meuse and the Argonne Forest Off Defensive Actions. Westfall, 87, was instrumental in organizing funding for a servicemen’s recognition plaque for Woodstock and North Lewisburg.

Oliver Livingston and his wife, Agnes, to whom he has been married 55 years, were also honored. Livingston will celebrate his 91st birthday Independence Day—July 4—this summer. He enlisted in the regular army at Columbus Barracks June 16, 1916, then served in Mexico. He recalls having seen Pancho Villa during a confrontation with his armed forces there. He was promoted to sergeant and went on to serve in France.

Paul Chamberlain, at 84 years, is the youngest of the four surviving veterans.

He enlisted in 1918 and trained at Camp Shelby, Miss.; Camp Logan, Houston, Texas; and Camp Sherry, Corpus Christi, Tex. He also served with Westfall in the St. Mihiel Sector in France.

Chamberlain, who lives in Mechanicsburg Village Apartments, once served as mayor of North Lewisburg and belongs to the Blazing Star Lodge of the Masons, the Star Chapter of the Royal Arch Masons.

He recalls enlisting in the army a day prior to his high school graduation and reporting to duty the following day. He, like the other veterans, was little prepared for the rigors or killings in battle.

Mr. and Mrs. Chapman, who need walkers to get around, have been married 56 years and have two sons—James Harlow of North Lewisburg and Carol of Manford, Okla.

He enlisted in the navy in 1918 and served in camps in Wakena, Ill., and near Philadelphia. In Europe, he served in Yugoslavia and Russia and traveled in railroad boxcars to various battle areas.

Following the war, he traveled by water around the perimeters of European countries and landed at ports to view the recovery of the war-torn countries.

The four men shared the memories of the lack of emotional preparation as teenaged men to become involved in battle.

They have attempted to erase the killings from their memories.

The jointly feel pride in having volunteered to serve their nation and harbor no regret. Some unpleasant memories are recalled, however, memories that will always be with them.