Fireman 1st Class Ralph Marion ChambleyBorn: Jan. 30, 1922 Died: Feb. 21, 1945
His full name was Ralph Marion Chambley but he was known to all as “Rip.” However, the reason for his nickname is now unknown.
Rip Chambley was a good-looking young man when he enlisted in the United States Navy and was assigned to the brand new Marine Corps escort aircraft carrier Bismark Sea. It had been launched in April l944.
He rose quickly to the rank of fireman first class. His primary duty, as his rank suggests, was to fight fires on shipboard resulting from enemy attack.
Initially the primary duty of the Bismark Sea was to escort the American fleet making its way to the island of Iwo Jima in preparation for the Marine Corps landings there.
On February 16 the Bismark Sea arrived off the coast of Iwo Jima along with a large flotilla of other U.S. combat ships. Once the Marines landed, the hand-to-hand fighting on shore was brutal and it was “no holds barred” offshore as well. In a last-ditch effort to destroy the American fleet, Japan launched their infamous kamikaze attacks.
On Feb. 21, in spite of heavy defensive gunfire, a kamikaze plane got through and struck the Bismark Sea square in the starboard side. Initially Rip Chambley and his shipmates had the resulting fire under control until another Japanese plane hit and disabled the ship.
The end result was inevitable. As the ship began to sink the order to abandon ship was given, but it came too late to save Rip Chambley and 318 of his fellow seaman.
Fireman 1st Class Rip Chambley left behind his devastated wife, Eunice Mae Chambley.
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