In 1943, at the age of 19, my father, James W. Chappelle, enlisted in the US Army. He initially became a clerk/typist and dispatch driver, but he wanted out of that role. So he tried to get in the fight. One year later, he became a trucker on the legendary “Red Ball Express.” The 1944 creation of the Red Ball Express by the Army Transportation Corp was to rapidly provide needed supplies to the Combat troops to cross France into Germany. About 75 percent of this group were African Americans.
In July of 1966, journalist David P. Colley interviewed my dad for his book “The Road to Victory” and in several other magazine articles. Dad also appeared on the Discovery Channel and in the television special “American Legacy: The Red Ball Express which gave recognition to African American Soldiers in World War II.
While pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Education, my father worked for the Cleveland Transit System as a bus driver. When Dad retired in 1987, he had become the Supervisor of the Transportation Planning Division for the Cleveland Public Schools.