Robert M. Chambers

NO. 17888  •  29 May 1926 - 7 June 2003


Died in San Antonio, TX
Interred in Ft Sam Houston National Cemetery, San Antonio, TX

The Howitzer says Robert Middleton Chambers was proud of his hometown of Middleport, OH, on the widest bend in the Ohio River. It was there, in quiet middle America, that "Bob" was born and grew up as the only child of Marcus and Elsie Chambers. Bob’s father had served in WWI and his grandfather in the Union Army during the Civil War. Their war stories, coupled with Bob’s avid interest in history and the events dealing with WWII, inspired Bob to pursue a military career.

Before he knew it, Bob turned 18 and was drafted into the Army. Subsequently, he received appointments to both the United States Naval and Military Academies. Fortunately for the Army, Bob chose West Point. He never regretted that decision and was extremely proud of being a member of the Long Gray Line.

Ben Lewis, a classmate and cadet roommate, later wrote, "Bob came to West Point already fully prepared to live the motto, 'Duty, Honor, Country' and he demonstrated a mature understanding of what he had to do at West Point to prepare himself for an Army career as a leader."

Throughout his cadet days, Bob worked quietly, meticulously, and diligently. He developed rigorous study habits as he persevered to understand subjects that did not come easily to him. He was a master at focusing on the subject at hand by blocking out voices and ambient noises that could have destroyed his concentration. All who knew Bob could attest to the fact that he kept this desirable ability for the remainder of his life. Lou Genuario, a Plebe and First Class year roommate, said, "Bob had a unique ability to remain unflappable in the midst of confusion. He was a great stabilizing influence, had a wry sense of humor, was a wonderful roommate, and a superb friend."

Bob chose Infantry and quickly became one of the first members of the Class of '50 to fight in the Korean War. After a shortened graduation leave, he reached Japan as the Eighth Army was fighting for its life with its back to the sea near Pusan, Korea. In Japan, he was assigned as a platoon leader in the reorganizing 17th Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division. Due to the shortage of replacement troops, hundreds of Koreans were integrated in the unit. This international integration provided Bob with invaluable experience he later used in Viet Nam.

Bob was fortunate enough to participate in the classic amphibious invasion at Inchon as a rifle platoon leader in the 17th Infantry. After the capture of Seoul, the 17th Infantry, with Bob still one of its junior leaders, raced northward towards the Manchurian border. On 20 Nov 1950, it became the first U.S. unit to reach the Yalu River. Under instructions not to shoot north of the river, they patrolled south of the river. The aggressive and daring attack northward and the highly pressured withdrawal southward provided Bob with more invaluable experiences that he would draw upon in Viet Nam years later.

Following Korea, he was assigned to Camp Roberts, CA, and then to occupation duty with the U.S. Forces in Austria and Germany. There, he met a young lady from Oklahoma, Troy Chancey, working for the Army Service Club. She quickly became the love of his life and, after a whirlwind courtship, they were married in Salzburg, Austria. They traveled as much as they could in their beloved Europe until their union produced two children: son David and daughter Carol. David and Carol are now married and living in Texas, near enough to San Antonio that visits were relatively frequent. Bob particularly delighted in visits with his two teenage grandsons.

Bob was immensely proud of his contributions to the Viet Nam War. He was the province advisor of Phuoc Thanh in 1964. His primary concerns were with pacification and turning most of the defensive duties over to the South Vietnamese. Although he had reservations about the programs themselves and how they were progressing, he later said, "I was happy because I had done some good."

During his 26 years of active duty Bob received numerous medals and awards. His most cherished were four Legions of Merit, one Bronze Star, and the Combat Infantryman Badge.

For Bob, the world was a place of wonder and infinite fascination. He delighted in sharing his interests with others. Thus, many of his military assignments and his pursuits in retirement involved teaching. Teaching related assignments while on active duty included faculty duties at Command and General Staff College and time spent as instructor/commander at four different Army career training centers. After retirement in 1975, Bob taught landscaping at a local community college and marine mammal and introductory computer classes at junior high schools. The results were always successful because his enthusiasm was contagious and he taught with clarity and purpose.

A severe stroke in January 1998 left him mentally alert but physically incapacitated. Nevertheless, he continued occupying his time reading, listening to music, surfing the Internet, and attending classes for senior citizens. He never permitted his disabilities to darken his outlook on life or halt participation in the activities he enjoyed. His humor never diminished. His children said, "He was capable of the most wicked one liners, and what could only be described as groaners. Through the darkest days, he would unnerve the nurses and orderlies with an unexpected joke or pun."

Bob was a kind and gentle man who believed everything was possible. He will be missed by Troy, his loving wife of 48 years; son David and his wife, Rose; daughter Carol and her husband, Steve; grandchildren; relatives; and a host of caring friends worldwide.

Job well done! Be thou at peace.

-Classmate Bill Mastoris, with generous contributions from wife Troy, family, and classmates