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Capt Ralph Jim “Jim/ Steeley” Chipman

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Capt Ralph Jim “Jim/ Steeley” Chipman

  • Birth 15 Aug 1943 Orem, Utah County, Utah, USA
  • Death 27 Dec 1972 Vietnam
  • Burial American Fork, Utah County, Utah, USA
  • Plot "Dedicated to those Veterans of American Fork memorialized around the world"
  • Memorial ID 61996435

In Memory of ....... Capt. Ralph Jim Chipman.
*** The AMERICAN FORK CEMETERY is located at: 100 East and 650 North in American Fork, Utah, Utah. The Following is a Memorial "Dedicated to those Veterans of American Fork memorialized around the world" Capt. Ralph Jim CHIPMAN, fighter pilot USMC missing in action Vietnam 1972.
*** the family put a plaque in front of the Provo City Library and planted a tree in Chipman's honor in Robinson Park in American Fork, Utah.
*** *** Honolulu Memorial - His name is inscribed on the Courts of the Missing at the Honolulu Memorial.

You may be gone, no longer living on this earth; but you will live on - in the memories of your family and friends. There will always be a part of you living in those who knew you. You will live on because we remember you!

RALPH JIM CHIPMAN - Marine Corps - CAPT - O3
Age: 30
Race: Caucasian
Date of Birth Aug 15, 1943
From: OREM, UT
Marital Status: Married - Susan Richards Chipman. Has remarried. They had two (2) sons. Parents: Father, Curtis Thorton Chipman, Born Jan. 13, 1918 and Died Oct. 23, 2008 and Mother, Fay LaRue Fullmer Chipman, Born July 23, 1921 and Died Oct. 5, 2006. Brother, Max Curtis Chipman, Born July 15, 1940 and Died March 24, 2013. Paternal Grandparents, Elmer Parker & Ferne Thornton Chipman. Maternal Grandparents, Ralph & Emma Katrina Nelson Fullmer.

***** Eddieb, I just wanted to thank you for adding the memorial for Capt. Ralph Jim Chipman. I was honored to see the information on him and am grateful for his and his family's sacrifice.
Thank you so much for sharing,
~from a Jim's distant cousin

***** Today is December 27th 2007. It happened so long ago on this same day. I try to remember him each time on the 27th if for a just a short moment. I was the pilot of the flight behind him that night. I returned, he didn't. I am so sorry.
Harry Trauffer
Powder Springs, Ga 30127

His tour began on Dec 27, 1972
Casualty was on December 27, 1972
Hostile, died while missing, FIXED WING - PILOT

Body was not recovered
Panel 01W - Line 106

Other Personnel in Incident: Ronald W. Forrester (missing)

Captain Ralph J. Chipman was the pilot of an Intruder assigned a mission over North Vietnam on December 27, 1972. His co-pilot on the flight was First Lieutenant Ronald W. Forrester.

The aircraft did not return from the mission, and last contact was made with the crew over the target area.

A subsequent article in Quan Doi Nhan Dan, a daily Vietnamese newspaper described an aircraft downed by the Vietnamese.

Apparently the pilot was reported to be dead, and possibly the co-pilot as well. Although this article was thought to possibly relate to Chipman and Forrester, it was not definite enough for proof of death.

Both men were classified Missing in Action.

Captain Chipman and Captain Forrester have not been repatriated.


Capt. Ralph Jim Chipman, shot down Dec. 26, 1972, during a bombing run on a Vietnamese supply train.

Jim Chipman and Susan Richards grew up in the same Orem neighborhood. Jim was four years older and didn't pay much attention to her, but she paid attention to him.
"He was the one that I looked at and wanted to marry for a long time," she said. "I always had a crush on him." He returned from an LDS mission about the time she graduated from high school. They'd been married almost three years when he joined the Marines so he wouldn't be drafted. He went to officers candidate school and flight school, then started flying A-6 aircrafts. He was flying one during a night bombing run of a supply train in Vietnam. An air traffic controller cleared his plane into the target area as Chipman honed in on the enemy's supplies.

That was the last contact Capt. Chipman had with the United States. His plane was shot down and disappeared into the jungles of Vietnam. No trace of the plane, the navigator or the pilot have ever been found.

Richards, who lived in Orem with the couple's two sons, opened the door a few days after Christmas to the most unwelcome surprise in the world. "I opened the door and there was a Marine and my bishop," she said. "Then it just hit me what I was looking at." She seized on the fact that they hadn't found his body and continued to hope that he was a prisoner of war, but as the months passed, she accepted that her husband was not coming home. Years later, the military found an article in a Vietnamese newspaper discussing shooting down planes in that area, and Chipman's plane was the only one shot down during that time, which confirmed that. "After months, not knowing was worse than knowing the worst, which I never thought would be the case," she said.

She has since remarried but remembers her first husband with pride; in the years after his disappearance, the family put a plaque in front of the Provo City Library and planted a tree in Chipman's honor in Robinson Park in American Fork. She never would have chosen the ending, but she wasn't sorry Chipman joined the military.

The biggest struggle through the years was the grief. The difficulty she ran into, besides losing her husband, never recovering his body and having two young sons, was that she couldn't talk to many people about Jim, not when he'd died fighting in a war most of the country didn't want. "Part of the healing process for people that lose someone, I believe, is you just want to talk about him," Richards said. "Nobody wanted to talk about Vietnam after it ended."

Today, she's glad to see people welcoming soldiers back, recognizing their sacrifice and thanking them for their service. "All Jim did was do what the president of the United States told him to do; it wasn't his decision," she said. "People that came home alive were treated like criminals, like they did something wrong. I'm glad we've learned better."
She and a friend are gathering stories for a book on how soldiers going to war affected the wives and children they left behind. Anyone interested in submitting their experiences can contact her at



Family Members


  • Created by: Eddieb
  • Added: 22 Nov 2010
  • Find A Grave Memorial 61996435
  • Eddieb
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Capt Ralph Jim “Jim/ Steeley” Chipman (15 Aug 1943–27 Dec 1972), Find A Grave Memorial no. 61996435, citing American Fork Cemetery, American Fork, Utah County, Utah, USA ; Maintained by Eddieb (contributor 46600350) .