Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain
Lawrence Chamberlain was born Sept. 8, 1828, in Brewer,
Maine. He attended Bowdoin College and Bangor
Theological Seminary and returned to Bowdoin teaching
rhetoric. In 1861 he tried to join the army. The college
would not give him leave to enlist, but instead offered
him a year’s sabbatical in Europe. Chamberlain took the
sabbatical and then joined up. He was soon made
lieutenant colonel of the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry
Chamberlain fought from 1826 to 1865, in the eastern
theater. He was wounded six and had six horses shot from
under him. He is remembered for the battle of Gettysburg
on July 2, 1863. That day, the 20th Maine held Little
Round Top and broke the Confederate advance at the high
mark of their advance. Chamberlain was also chosen to
receive Lee's surrender at Appomattox on April 12, 1865.
After the war, he served four terms as Governor of
Maine, and returned to Bowdoin College as its president.
He died in 1914.
John Paul Stapp
John Paul Stapp was born in Brazil to
missionary parents. He was educated at Baylor
University, where he obtained his B.A. and M.A. He got
his Ph.D. at the University of Texas and his M.D. from
the University of Minnesota, before going into the U.S.
Air Force. There his career concentrated on
flight-testing and safety mechanisms for airplanes. Dr.
Stapp was involved in the crash survival research
program at Edwards Air Force Base. Dr. Stapp frequently
volunteered to ride the “human decelerator” a
rocket-powered sled on a track that was driven to high
speed and then suddenly stopped. As a result of Dr.
Stapp's findings, the strength requirement for fighter
seats was increased considerably. His work showed that a
pilot could walk away from crashes when properly
protected by harnesses, and if his seat does not break
loose. Indeed, by riding the decelerator sled himself,
(at great personal risk, as he broke bones twice,) Dr.
Stapp demonstrated that a human could withstand at least
45 Gs in the forward position, with adequate harness.
This is the highest known G-force voluntarily
encountered by a human. The lap and shoulder belts in
cars today are there because of Dr. Stapp's research.
Dr. Stapp died in New Mexico at the age of 89.
Eugene B. Fluckey has the most
decorations of any living American veteran, four Navy
Crosses and the Congressional Medal of Honor. He was
born in Washington D.C. and attended the U.S. Naval
Academy. In World War II, he commended the U.S.S.
Barb on five war patrols in the Pacific. The Barb
sank 34 merchant ships, 5 warships, conducted one of the
first submarine missile bombardments and her crew
performed the only landing of U.S. troops on Japanese
soil, where they blew up a train. The crew of the
Barb won six navy crosses, 23 silver stars, 23
bronze stars in addition to the Medal of Honor won by
CMDR Fluckey. Of his many citations, Fluckey says he is
most proud of the one medal no member of his crew ever
was awarded — the Purple Heart. After the war, CMDR
Fluckey rose to the rank of Rear Admiral and retired. He
lives in Annapolis MD, writing and working for
Brigadier General Chuck Yeager is the
first person to break the sound barrier. He enlisted in
the Army Air Forces in WWII as a mechanic, but he became
a pilot and maintenance officer. He was shot down over
Europe in 1943, but managed to elude capture and return
to England. He was supposed to be relieved of combat
duty, but Yeager felt his job wasn't finished and going
home would let his comrades down. He continued to fly
over Europe in support of the D-Day landings and after.
Flying 64 combat missions, Yeager was an ace (five
confirmed kills) in a day, and 13 total kills. After the
war, his evasion experience as well as his mechanical
abilities brought General Yeager to test flying and
In 1947, he was assigned to test the
rocket-powered X-1 fighter plane. His team was testing
technology developed during the war to improve aircraft
performance, increase aircraft speed, and fly faster
than the speed of sound. Chuck Yeager broke the sound
barrier on October 14, 1947. In 1952, he set a new air
speed record of 1,650 mph, more than twice the speed of
sound. General Yeager's career also included command of
a fighter squadron, command of the first astronaut
school, a tour of duty in Vietnam, and a dangerous
ejection from a Lockheed F-104 Starfighter. In 1968,
Chuck Yeager, a former enlisted man with a high school
education was promoted to Brigadier General. He retired
from the Air Force in 1975, but continued to serve as a
consulting test pilot for many years. General Yeager
also continues to fly and is active in environmental