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Great State: Memorial to Heroes

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SHARON, OKLAHOMA -- His daily walk isn't far.

Jim Chapman's driveway leads outward to a gravel county road, west past a mailbox, and eventually to a tall flag pole.

He has to replace his flags when the wind shreds them, but he flies one every day nonetheless.

His family's military heritage practically demands it.

"You better believe it," he says matter of factly. "I'm proud of every little dab I've got."

His great-grandfather was Amos Chapman, an army scout who patrolled the plains for decades in the frontier 1800's.

A day's ride west of his place, in 1874, he and six other cavalrymen were caught in the open by a band of Kiowa and Comanche.

The soldiers dug themselves into a buffalo wallow against 125 Indian fighters.

Amos ran into the open to rescue a fallen comrade and ran for cover on a shattered foot.

Chapman's small party was pinned down for three days before they escaped.

"Back in them days you had to take care of yourself if you know what I mean," explains Jim Chapman. "You had to be tough and I guess that was."

Amos would lose a leg as a result of his injuries.

Five of his fellow soldiers survived the fight.

All of them received the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Reading over the story Jim remarks, "That was interesting. That's what made this old world, people like that."

Chapman still keeps a file on his great-grandfather.

He has pictures of him hanging in his house.

Amos never met Jim. he died an old man in 1925, but the stories of his exploits lived.

When the call of duty went out in World War II many of Amos' grandsons answered.

"We've all been hooked up with the military somehow." "My dad had four brothers in the service at once. Three of them came home."

Jim's uncle Edward Chapman was lost at sea when his submarine was hit by friendly aircraft fire.

Of his uncles, Jim says, "They didn't have to go. They wanted to go and they went."

So on this lonely spot in northwest Oklahoma, Jim pays his respects to a long legacy, to one act of heroism, and to a wartime casualty who never got to tell his story.

The Chapman flag flies high for both of them.

Amos Chapman is buried with a state historical marker in the Seiling, Oklahoma cemetery.

Amos was inducted into the Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame last November.

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