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Visiting Gold Star Families memorial and being reminded of sacrifices made

May 26 2022
Susanne Cetrulo | Northern Kentucky Tribune

I had the opportunity to be part of a ceremony for Gold Star Families at the newly unveiled memorial at Kentucky Veterans Cemetery North, in Grant County. It is a truly beautiful memorial and location if you have not been there before. Be sure to check it out.

One of the speakers there encouraged all who attended to talk with and learn the names and stories of at least one of the families in attendance. I took that to heart and spoke to a few actually, but spent the most time with Major Melinda “Minnie” Mills who was there with her husband, John.

All are military connected and their deceased serviceman was Minnie’s brother, David Mark Chapman. This is their story. I wanted to share it as we approach Memorial Day.

David Mark Chapman graduated from Simon Kenton in June 1975. Minnie graduated in 1974 and then graduated from nursing school in September.

Their mom, Carol W. Chapman, started the same nursing school the next day.

David went to Navy boot camp at Great Lakes in Mar.1976. Minnie went to Great Lakes for Hospital Corp School shortly after. She got permission to go to the boot camp side of the base for his graduation, and the next day, he went to her graduation. They drove home together on leave which happened to be over Memorial Day weekend.

Marty Nie, pharmacist, was Chaplain of the American Legion Moon Brothers Post 275 in Independence. As Minnie tells it, “he asked us to march in the Memorial Day Parade in uniform. It was 1976, our Nation’s Bicentenial. We were so proud.”

They returned to complete their training and David was assigned to Norfolk, Va. to the USS Trenton LPD 14. David had his 19th birthday on 30 Dec. and was killed in the harbor at Barcelona, Spain on 17 Jan. 1977, when the liberty boat returning from shore leave was hit by a Spanish merchant ship, the Urlea, causing it to capsize, killing 49 of the 124 Sailors and Marines on board. He was 19 years old for only 18 days.

Minnie finished her nursing degree and her first enlistment and continued in the Navy Reserve and then was commissioned with the Air Force, as a flight nurse. She and her husband, John Mills, were on Aircraft C-141, on alert on 9/11. She has served 30 years and her husband 34 years. Of course, Carol, a nurse for many years, and mother of David, has made her own sacrifices for our country.

The pictures accompanying this show David and Minnie in 1976; and their mom, Carol, at the memorial last Friday and John, Carole and Minnie at the memorial celebration.

Join us all in celebrating the sacrifices of those we honor on Memorial Day.