By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Charlotte C. Oliver
Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9 receives new personnel every week overseas and on Dec. 30, Lt. j.g. David Chapelle, the newest pilot assigned to the Golden Hawks of Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 112, was reunited with his older brother, Lt. Topher Chapelle, a pilot with the Golden Dragons of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 192.
The Chapelle brothers, from Chapin, S.C., grew up with dreams of flying for the Navy. Each pursued their dream by earning a commission through the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC). Topher attended Virginia Technical Institute while David, two years younger, chose to attend AuburnUniversity.
“We were always interested in flying while growing up,” said David. “The idea of taking off and landing on a moving ship was awesome.”
The scholarship offered through NROTC drove the brothers to actively pursue a career in the Navy and eventually join the ranks of elite naval aviators.
The same week Topher completed training on the T-34 Turbomentor aircraft and earned his wings as a naval aviator, David earned his commission as an ensign.
After completing preliminary flight school in Pensacola, Fla., both brothers were selected for carrier-based aircraft. Topher was selected to fly the F/A-18C Hornet, while David was to fly the E-2C Hawkeye.
David learned he would be joining his brother aboard Stennis shortly after completing carrier qualification aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), while a member of VAW-120, the E2-C Hawkeye Fleet Replacement Squadron.
“When I was finishing my qualification [on the
carrier] I knew coming to VAW-112 was an option,” said David. “When my classmates found out my brother was on the Stennis I was told ‘you’re coming here.’ I think it was already decided.”
Topher joined the Golden Dragons, embarked aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), in November 2010, and is currently on his second deployment with the squadron.
“I knew when my brother was finishing his carrier qualificiation that he was probably going to be joining me with the air wing on Stennis,” said Topher.
The last time the brothers saw each other was nearly two years ago when they were both in Lemoore, Calif. Now that the brothers are both in the same air wing aboard Stennis, they are hoping to make up for lost time and to catch up between flying missions and training.
David’s arrival had some Sailors wondering if siblings serving together on the same ship was prohibited.
On Nov. 13, 1942 as the USS Juneau, severely damaged in the Battle of Guadalcanal, limped away from battle with the USS San Francisco and USS Helena, she was torpedoed by the Japanese submarine I-26. The Juneau sank in less than a minute and of the 700 Sailors aboard Juneau, there were only 10 survivors. The five Sullivan brothers, who had requested to serve aboard the same ship, were all killed. Many believe that because of this tragedy siblings are barred from serving under the same command, however, no such law exists. After the loss of the Sullivan brothers, several bills were introduced to Congress that would prohibit family members from serving in the same military unit, but no bill or act was ever passed.
With no rules barring the brothers from serving together, the “Chapelle Show,” as they’re known, said they are excited to serve together and look forward to learning from each other during the remainder of their deployment.
“It’s a great opportunity to serve together, and our parents are excited for us,” said Topher.
“Our mom is happy it will make sending packages easier,” David added.
With the brothers reunited, they hope to bring their dad aboard Stennis for the end-of-deployment Tiger Cruise from Hawaii to San Diego.
“We really both want to be able to show our dad what we’ve been up to the last few years,” the brothers added. “We know he’ll really enjoy it.”
The John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group (JCSCSG), consisting of Stennis, CVW 9, Destroyer Squadron 21, and guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53) are deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility to strengthen regional partnerships, sustain maritime security, and support combatant commander requirements for assets in the area.
Lt. Topher Chapelle, left, and his brother Lt. j.g. David Chapelle pose for a photo on the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Charlotte C. Oliver/Released)
MC2(SWAW) Josh Keim
USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74)
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Media Dep. Ast. LPO
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