Southern Utah News Articles
Honoring our Heroes - Cloyd Chamberlain
Three local heroes, Cloyd Chamberlain, Neil Crosby and Julian Fox, have recently been honored for their service to our nation. They were recipients of an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C., to view the war memorials that have been erected in honor of their and countless others’ sacrifice and service on behalf of our free nation.
What’s even more humbling is that these three men not only served our great nation as young men, they went on to become community leaders. One served as a pharmacist for many years, one a successful business owner, and yet another, a Utah Highway Patrolman. They have spent many years in this area as role models and important church and community servants. We thank them for their service in all those endeavors, as well as serving our country. This is part one of a three-part series on the three Veterans.
Cloyd grew up in Kanab, with his future wife Larue, a Kane County native as well. His family owned the Kanab Hotel while he was still in high school. “The only tourism we had back then was when the Santa Fe bus would come through and bring a few tourists,” said Chamberlain. “I’d watch the bus leave with area servicemen.”
While in high school, Chamberlain took a test to see aptitude for different branches of service. He got word from the Naval Air Station that he’d been chosen to take flight training at the University of Colorado; it was a N-12 program for officer training. An injury prevented that, and he was later drafted, and took boot camp in Farragut, Idaho. He served our country as a Navy Seaman-First Class.
In Cloyd Chamberlain’s birth family of five boys, all served in the service!
“I chose going into the fleet, and was stationed on the Ticonderoga,” Chamberlain explained of his service. “This ship stabled all planes on the carrier.” (Later, when planes were within 1000 miles of an airport, they would station at the ground base.)
Chamberlain’s ship station was famous, because the carrier went to Okinawa and picked up 7800 people who had fought there. The carrier had 5000 people as personnel. It was over 1000 foot long. “I was put in the supply department,” said Chamberlain. “That was where food, money and other provisions were received from.”
One memory Chamberlain recounted was when he was selected to go into town to draw out payroll. He said it was an enormous (and likely dangerous) job, since nobody had been paid for six months! “I drew out the payroll of $98,000 in a sack!”
The ship became quite famous later, Chamberlain related, for picking up astronauts in the South Pacific.
Specific memories were of how whites and blacks were very strictly segregated. “They were even given different food than us,” he said, “and the military had a limit as to what rank a colored person could attain.”
Another memory was when they were in Okinawa on Christmas Eve, and they were showing a movie to the ship’s crew on deck. “The movie was Buffalo Bill that had been filmed here in Kanab. I had worked on the movie as an extra when I was 16. We had been in Buckskin Gulch. We got away early from the set, after being warned there may be a flash flood. We were the only ones who got out early, because the flood left the movie folks stranded. It took six buses to get them all out! The film brought back memories of my days before the service, as well as made me homesick, seeing all the area.”
On Chamberlain’s Honor Flight trip to Washington, he was accompanied by his son McKay. “It was very special,” said Chamberlain. “I remember the different monuments, specifically the World War II.”
Chamberlain said it was such a wonderful event, and praised the St. George organizers. After going to the Dixie Center, they traveled to Las Vegas. The USO organized breakfast there. “All meals and every minute were planned. Our guardians took good care of us, and we met so many friends, both here and in Washington.”
He was very touched by so many people lined up to thank the Veterans, everywhere they went! Chamberlain said patriotism seemed to be alive and well. In Baltimore, there were even six bagpipes and an honor guard!
When they got back to St. George and the Dixie Center, they were met by many proud friends and family.
“It was a wonderful experience,” said Chamberlain. “I’m so glad to have received the opportunity.”