Navy Veteran Wreford Goss Chapple is today's Veteran of the Day.

Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Navy Veteran Wreford Goss Chapple, who served as a naval submariner throughout World War II and fought in defense of the Philippines.

Wreford Goss “Moon” Chapple was born in Billings, Montana, in March 1908. After graduating from Billings High School, Chapple entered the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. While there, he was elected the president of his graduating class in 1930. Following graduation, he was commissioned ensign on June 5 and was assigned to serve aboard a vessel in the Asiatic Fleet.

After two years in the Asiatic Fleet, Chapple detached for submarine training at the Submarine Base in New London, Connecticut. Afterward, he became a submariner and served out his first assignment aboard USS S-38 with the Asiatic fleet in 1933. Chapple served aboard USS Pike, Perch and Tarpon, rising to the rank of lieutenant before returning to serve aboard S-38 by 1940.

Placed in defense of the Philippines, S-38 under Chapple’s command resisted the invasion of the Japanese forces alongside the rest of the Asiatic fleet. With the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, the Japanese quickly followed with the invasion of the Philippines the following day, beginning what would become a desperate struggle for many, in which Chapple, too, was tested.

With orders to guard Luzon against the invading Japanese fleet, S-38 alongside three submarines and 14 fleet boats moved to guard the nearly 20-mile-wide entrance of the Lingayen Gulf. The defense of the Lingayen Gulf proved to be a trial by fire for Chapple and the crew of S-38. The first sub to arrive, S-38 became isolated, essentially stranded while surrounded by Japanese destroyers overlooking the landing operations. S-38 took advantage of an opportune moment and fired upon four unsuspecting transport vessels. Missing, S-38 rapidly dove, avoiding the depth charges the now well-alerted Japanese forces were setting off. Following 45 minutes of bombardment, S-38 found a new target, the Mayo Maru, as it offloaded enemy troops. Firing two torpedoes, S-38 scored a fatal hit, splitting the Japanese ship in two and sinking the 5,000-ton vessel.

Reigniting bombardment, S-38 once again evaded depth charges in the bay, diving once more and running aground in the bay. For the next 12 hours, S-38 and its crew ran on silent while enemy vessels continued to bomb over 300 square miles of the gulf in search of them. Electing to remain there until the bombardment let up, S-38 and its crew eventually made their escape from the treacherous waters. For his actions in the Lingayen Gulf, Chapple was awarded a Naval Cross.

Chapple’s outstanding record of perseverance continued throughout the war in the command of S-38, USS Permit and USS Bream, advancing to the rank of captain by July 1949.

After serving in the Korean War and reaching the rank of rear admiral, Chapple retired in 1959. Among his many medals and honors, Chapple also received a Silver Star and a Bronze Star Medal.

Chapple died in May 1991.

We honor his service.


Nominate a Veteran for #VeteranOfTheDay

Do you want to light up the face of a special Veteran? Have you been wondering how to tell your Veteran they are special to you? VA’s #VeteranOfTheDay social media feature is an opportunity to highlight your Veteran and his/her service.

It’s easy to nominate a Veteran. Visit our blog post about nominating to learn how to create the best submission.

Veterans History Project

This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at http://www.loc.gov/vets/.


Writer: Milosh Mihajlovic-Klaric

Editors: Alexander Reza, Annabelle Colton

Researchers: Patrick Woods, Timothy Georgetti

Graphic artist: Kiki Kelley

By DME Interns

Share this story

Published on Jun. 13, 2022

Estimated reading time is 3.2 min.

Views to date: 357

One Comment

  1. Senior Veterans Care Network June 13, 2022 at 11:46 am

    We honor the service of Wreford Goss “Moon” Chapple.

Comments are closed.

More Stories

  • Edward Carter Jr. was one of the few African Americans to be awarded the Medal of Honor for actions during World War II.

  • Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Spiros “Steve” Pisanos, a Greek national who flew for the British Royal Air Force as an American pilot during World War II.

  • Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Marine Corps Veteran Stephen W. Pless, who served in the Vietnam War and is the only Marine aviator to be awarded a Medal of Honor during the war.