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"So we found ourselves one day in Columbus, Georgia, at Ft. Benning with our families, essentially 24 hours later in the middle of sirens going off and a rocket attack in Vietnam" (video interview, 00:20:55.0).

   Thomas Frederick Chapman
Collection image
Thomas Chapman at time of interview
War: Vietnam War, 1961-1975
Branch: Army
Unit: 413th Finance Disbursement Unit, Army Reserve, Pacific
Service Location: Fort Knox, Kentucky; Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana; Fort Benning, Georgia; Phu Bai, Vietnam
Rank: Staff Sergeant
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With a different kind of draft likely in his future, Thomas Chapman tried to preserve his baseball career as a pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies by preemptively joining the Army Reserves in 1967. Instead, he was called up to active duty and missed spring training. In early 1968, as he was once again preparing to attend spring training, the North Vietnamese launched the Tet Offensive. This time, he deployed to Vietnam. He would never play baseball again. Chapman has no regrets, though. "I'm over it…I came home. I'm the lucky one" (video interview, 00:37:39.0).

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (8 clips)
» Part 1 
Download: video (60 min.)
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»First, Serve: Athletes in Uniform
 Video (Interview Excerpts) (8 items)
"Born with a ball in his hand"; playing sports in school; recruited by Clemson to play baseball; dream was to play in the Majors. (02:06) Coach Frank Howard at Clemson asked him to play football instead of baseball; telling this renowned coach "no". (01:23) Played for Coach Bill Wilhelm at Clemson; difficult, but positive, relationship with his coach. (01:56)
Signing with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1965; baseball career shortened by service in the Army. (00:48) Joining the reserves; called up to active duty; missing spring training. (01:50) Deployed to Vietnam; missing spring training once again. (02:07)
First days of service in Vietnam; "it's when night fell that the sirens went off"; no bunkers at Phu Bai. (01:21) After service; "I'm over it." Leaves baseball behind. (01:23) 
  
 

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  October 26, 2011
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