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Obituaries » Colonel William E. Chatfield

Colonel William E. Chatfield

February 16, 1925 - January 1, 2018

U.S. Veteran

Service Date: January 8, 2018

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Colonel William E. Chatfield, 92, of Belleville, Illinois, was born February 16, 1925  in Epworth, Iowa. He was called home to  his Heavenly Father, Monday, January 1, 2018 at his residence.

Colonel Chatfield was son of Donald F. and Eileen M. (Daly) Chatfield. He graduated from Epworth High School in 1942 and attended Loras College, Dubuque, Iowa, for one year before entering WWII military service  in September 1943. He completed the Aviation Credit Program and was commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant Navigator in December 1944. He was a member of the first graduating class of the Bombing Through Overcast radar school at Victorville Air Force Base. He served on B-17, B-24, and B-29 crews until separation from active duty in February 1946. Returning home, he completed degrees from Loras College in Mathematics, General Science, and Secondary Education in 1949 and started a career teaching mathematics at Loras Academy in Dubuque. This career would be interrupted by a recall to active duty in 1951 for the Korean War. After refresher training in the B-26, he completed 55 night interdiction missions in Korea as a Navigator Bombardier, then three years as a Navigation Instructor at Ellington AFB, Texas, four years as an Air Force ROTC instructor at Coe College, Cedar Rapids, IA. With the escalation of the “Cold War”, Col. Chatfield’s valuable combat experience and mathematics background led to his selection in 1959 to an Air Force Headquarters group developing new computer assisted war game simulations to assess the capabilities of the Air Force, including simulations of worldwide nuclear war. This assignment lasted 5 years. Near the end of his assignment, he was selected to document and publish several of the analytical techniques that had been developed and used by the group through the years. He authored and published a 214 page “Studies Handbook” describing, compiling and documenting many of the techniques, including, completed examples, applied to force structures, application of air power and effectiveness. The handbook was widely used for several years. He was then selected to further his mathematics education with an assignment to the University of Michigan to obtain a Masters Degree in Operations Research. After completion of his degree in 1966, he was assigned to the Office of the Secretary of Defense to develop force level requirements and analysis of Tactical Air Operations, primarily to support the U.S. effort in the Vietnam War. After three years he was assigned to Tan Son Nhut Air Base, Vietnam on the staff of the Air Force Commander General George Brown. His group provided analytical information on the Air War, primarily on the interdiction campaign directed against the Ho Chi Min Trail through Laos. Upon return to the United States in 1970, he was assigned to Headquarters, Military Airlift Command at Scott AFB, as Chief of Analysis in the Directorate of Operations. In July 1973, he was assigned as Professor of Aerospace, Studies at the University of Arkansas. This would be his final active duty assignment until his retirement in June 1977. Colonel Chatfield’s military decorations include the Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal and 13 other service medals.

After retirement, Col. Chatfield returned to his first career, teaching mathematics at the University of Wisconsin, Platteville. He and his family retired to a home near Potosi, WI. He married Shirley M. Oswald on June 12, 1948 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Dubuque, IA. She preceded him in death on March 11, 1989. He moved to Belleville after his wife’s death to be near several of his children. He married Edna I. (Davis)  Celmer on June 9, 1990 at St. Teresa’s Catholic Church.

Col. Chatfield was an avid fisherman, enjoyed the game of golf and loved wood working. He was a man who took pride in his country and enjoyed traveling to see all the beautiful sights his country has to offer.  Col. Chatfield was a life member of several associations including the VFW, the Military Officers Association of America,  Air Force Navigators Observers Association and the All Three Wars Association, having served as Vice President for 2 years and President for 3, he was also a member of the American Legion, 17th & 452 Bomb Wing Association, the Branson Task Force, and a parishioner at St. Teresa’s Church.

He was preceded in death by his first Wife, Shirley M. nee Oswald Chatfield; Parents Donald F. and Eileen M. nee Daly Chatfield; Step-Father Gerald Grew; Son Robert J. Chatfield; Brother Donald J. Chatfield;  Father-in-Law Herman Davis.  Six Sisters-in-Law: Virginia Chatfield, Cleo Ball, Arlene Shetler, Bernice Loring, Joyce O’Meara, Geraldine Kramer;  Five Brothers-in-Law: Harold Ball, Sylvester Shetler, Howard Loring, Robert O’Meara, Eldon Kramer.

Surviving are his Wife Edna,  Children: William D. Chatfield of Downingtown, PA, Cheryl E. Thompson of Belleville, IL, Michael J. Chatfield of Belleville, IL, Jill A. Chatfield of Belleville, IL, Sally J. (Victor) Dillow of Gorham, IL, Peggy L. Chatfield (William) Diuguid  of Belleville, IL. Step-Children: Robert (Jamie) Celmer, Leslie Petrovic, Allan Celmer;  Sisters-in-Law: Donnie Davis of Iota, LA. and Brenda (William) Tell of Houston, TX
20 Grandchildren, 16 Great-Grandchildren and 2 Great – Great Grandchildren

Memorials: Memorials may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association in memory of his mother Eileen or The Paralyzed Veterans of American .

Visitation:  Visitation from 3:00 pm – 7:00 pm Sunday, January 7, 2018 at Kurrus Funeral Home in Belleville, Illinois

Funeral:  A funeral procession will leave from Kurrus Funeral Home in Belleville, IL at 9:30 am on Monday, January 8, 2018 for a 10:00 am Mass of Christian Burial at St. Teresa Catholic Church in Belleville, IL, with Father David Darin officiating.  Interment will take place at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia at a later date.