CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — Raymond Chambers never received a Purple Heart despite being wounded while serving during World War II, but now, at 100 years old, he may have a chance to receive the military decoration with the help of Collegedale resident Robert Gould.
One of Gould’s neighbors, an American Legion member, knew Chambers and helped introduce the two men. Gould took an interest in the life and history Chambers has experienced.
“It was fascinating to listen to him, to hear the history that he was bringing forth,” Gould said by phone.
In 1942, Chambers enlisted in the Army and served with the 3rd Infantry Division, mostly in France and Italy. The most difficult part of serving was watching his friends die in front of him, he said.
“Hard thing about combat is holding your buddy in your arms, or just watching the medics work on him, and him passing away with a bullet in him,” Chambers said. “It stays on you forever.”
Chambers remembered the names of several soldiers he watched die, but the one he spoke of most was a soldier from Texas named Cruz, who was a husband and father. During one battle, a lieutenant ordered Cruz to go out against the German forces, Chambers said, but he tried to tell Cruz to ignore the order due to the danger.
“I told him not to go,” Chambers said. “I said, ‘Tell that lieutenant to go to hell.’”
Cruz went out anyway, Chambers said, and the Germans killed him. Chambers said he did not want anything to do with the lieutenant after that.
Chambers was not immune to the dangers of war. While fighting in France, he sustained wounds from artillery shrapnel that struck him in the head and rear end, he said. He spent two weeks in a hospital before returning to duty with the shrapnel still in his body.