Funeral services held for American Fork Vietnam Veteran who was missing for 50 years
Nov 11, 2023, 9:14 PM | Updated: 9:39 pm
AMERICAN FORK — Veterans Day has always been special to many Utahns.
For Robyn Rampton, it’s a connection to her family’s past.
“We are a patriotic family,” she said while holding a small American flag. “My father served in World War II.”
However, Saturday’s ceremony in American Fork she was attending was all about a man who served in Vietnam.
“I didn’t know Jim. I remember his face. He’s older than me by a little bit,” said Ellen Mallison, who was also at the ceremony.
Anyone who lived here at the time will probably remember his face.
Remembering a fallen soldier
Marine Capt. Ralph Jim Chipman, of American Fork, was a pilot who was shot down and killed during the Vietnam War in 1972.
It wasn’t until this past summer when his remains were found over there.
“It is amazing that after 50 years, they were able to find his dog tags and remains,” said Rampton.
It has been 50 years since Chipman has been home.
He was welcomed with a full military funeral, a flyover, taps, and a 21-gun salute.
“A dream come true”
His wife, Susan Richards, almost still can’t believe it.
“I have to tell you, it was a dream come true for me. I loved him dearly,” she said to the hundreds of people who gathered at the cemetery for Chipman’s funeral.
Their two sons, Scot and Matthew, feel the same way.
They only know their father from pictures and stories.
“If it wasn’t for a lot of the people here, I had no direct memories of my dad,” Matthew Chipman said. “I got to know my dad through many of you and I wanted to thank you for that.”
Matthew Chipman, was almost 2 years old when his father died.
Now, they’re as close to him as the day he left for war.
It makes this Veterans Day about as special as it gets.
“It’s probably not just for Jim, but for all the military that served,” said Richards. “We are just so happy that so many people have come to celebrate.”
The navigator of the plane Capt. Chipman was flying, Capt. Ronald Forrester, was also killed that day.
Forrester was from Texas, and his daughter was at Saturday’s funeral.
Forrester’s remains have not been found yet, but Chipman’s family is hoping that happens soon so his family can have the kind of ceremony they had.
After 50 years, they know where Chipman is.
He is home.