Bernard Camper Chapman was born in Thermal City, North Carolina to Roy McKinley Chapman and Marie Josephine Camper. He had four brothers, William Blake, Gene Dayton, John Moody and Roy M. Chapman Jr.

Staff Sergeant Bernard C. Chapman, US Army Air Forces, was assigned to the 340th Bomber Squadron, 97th Bomber Group Heavy, flying a B-17 out of Amendola. Italy.

He was killed in action on 21 January 1945, and is listed on the Tablets of the Missing, Florence American Cemetery, Florence, Italy.

The B-17 bomber departed from Foggia, Italy, on 21 January 1945, to participate in a bombing mission to Austria. While returning from the mission, the aircraft was forced to make an emergency landing in the Adriatic Sea because of lack of fuel. Every available type of rescue equipment was sent to the scene. However, the high waves and wind prevented aiding the crew members and all except three of them (Whalen, Couvillion and Gorman) drowned.

Crew members
Pilot 1st Lt John V. Potkalitsky
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt Melvin H. Cummings
Navigator 1st Lt William R. Hill
Bombardier S/Sgt Bernard C. Chapman
Radio Operator Sgt Earl C. Poovey
Engineer/Gunner T/Sgt Thomas F. Gorman
Armorer Gunner S/Sgt Daniel R. Shea
Armorer Gunner Elbert F. McKinlay
Gunner S/Sgt Harold J. Whalen
Gunner S/Sgt Leroy P. Couvillion Jr.

The Johnson City Press, 11 February 1945
Staff Sgt. Bernard C. Chapman, 20-year-old 15th Army Air Force aerial gunner, was killed in action in Italy January 21, the War Department has notified his parents, Mr. and Mrs. R.M. Chapman of Gay street, Erwin. One of four service sons, Sergeant Chapman had flown Moore than 31 missions with the 15th AAF since going overseas last September. He had basic training at Miami Beach, Fla., cadet training at the University of Minnesota and Denver, Colo., and won his wings at Kingman, Ariz. His combat training was at Drew Field, Avon Park, Fla. Surviving besides his parents are four brothers, Lt. Roy Chapman, with the AAF in the South Pacific, W.B. Chapman, U.S. Navy and Gene Chapman, who recently enlisted in the Navy’s 17-year-old group, and John Chapman of Erwin.

  • Rank: Staff Sergeant
  • Date of birth:
  • 17 January 1925
  • Date of death: 21 January 1945
  • County: Unicoi
  • Hometown: Erwin
  • Service Branch: Army/Army Air Forces
  • Division/Assignment: 340th Bomber Squadron, 97th Bomber Group, Heavy
  • Theater: Europe
  • Conflict: World War II
  • Awards: Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Purple Heart
  • Burial/Memorial Location: Florence American Cemetery, Via Cassia, Italy
  • Location In Memorial: Pillar XIX, Top Panel
  • Contact us to sponsor Bernard C. Chapman

Image Gallery

Click a thumbnail below to view at full size.

Submit more information on this veteran →