Donald D. Chapman was born in Thailia, Texas, on December 9, 1917, son of William Gardner and Bertha Eugene (Brown) Chapman. He attended Texas Technological College at Lubbock, from which he received the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Government in 1939 and the University of Texas at Austin, from which he received the degree of Bachelor of Laws in 1942. He enlisted in the V-7 Program of the U.S Naval Reserve on January 10, 1942 and after a period of inactive duty reported in August that year, for indoctrination at Notre Dame University, South Bend, Indiana. Appointed Midshipman, USNR on October 1, 1942, he next ttended the US. Naval Reserve Midshipman School, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois. He was commissioned Ensign on December 24, 1942 and subsequently advanced in rank of that of Rear Admiral, to date from May 1, 1968, having transferred from the Naval Reserve to the Regular Navy on August 1, 1945.
After receiving his commission in 1942, he had duty in connection with communications at Headquarters, Eighth Naval District, Charleston, South Carolina. He remained there until January 1943 and after a similar assignment at the Naval Base, Galveston, Texas, he reported in March 1943 on board the USS PC 460, operating in the Caribbean, to serve as Engineer Officer and Executive Officer. Detached from that vessel in July 1943, he next had training at the Subchaser Training Center, Miami, Florida, and from September 1943 to February 1945 was Engineer Officer and Executive Officer of the USS PC-566, in the Atlantic. He next commanded the USS PC 792, which operated in the North Pacific.
In February 1946 he returned to Headquarters, Eighth Naval District, where he served as Assistant District Legal Officer until May 1949, the joined the Staff of Commander Amphibious Force, Pacific Fleet as Staff Legal Officer. In that assignment, he spent nine months with the fleet in the Western Pacific. During the period November 1951 to December 1955 he was Assistant Director of the Military Justice Division, Office of the Judge Advocate General, Navy Department, Washington, DC, after which he served as Staff Legal Officer on the Staff of the Commander in Chief, US Atlantic Fleet/ Commander in Chief, Atlantic/ Commander in Chief, Western Atlantic.
He reported in September 1958 for instruction at the Judge Advocate General’s School, US Army, at the University of Virginia at Charlottesville, and upon completing the course in June 1959 was again assigned to the Office of the Judge Advocate General, where he headed the Legislative Comment Branch and the General Affairs Branch and finally was Director of the Administrative Law Division. In July 1963 he joined the Staff of Commander Hawaiian Sea Frontier/ Commandant Fourteenth Naval District/ Commander Naval Base, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, as Legal Officer and in June 1966 returned to the Office of the Judge Advocate General, where he had duty with the Naval Appellate Review Activity and later as Director of the Administrative Law Division. On May 1, 1968 he became Deputy Judge Advocate General and “for exceptionally meritorious service… (in that capacity) from May 1968 to February 1971… “was awarded the Legion of Merit. The citation further stares in part:
“Serving as Deputy Judge Advocate General during a period in which unprecedented demands were placed on military justice and other areas of military legal practice, (he) consistently displayed outstanding initiative, resourcefulness, and judgment in supervising and coordinating an orderly transition in military law. His actions were instrumental in ensuring that individual rights were fully protected without jeopardizing the needs and interest of the naval service. Further, during his tenure of office, the Military Justice Act of 1968 became law and the Manual for Courts-Martial, United States, 1969 (Revised Edition) was completed and distributed. Under Rear Admiral Chapman’s supervision and through his guidance, the various divisions and branches of the Office of the Judge Advocate General of the Navy achieved exceptionally high levels in productivity and efficiency. He continually reviewed and evaluated procedures and plans to ensure maximum utilization of limited resources at a time of austere budgetary restrictions. While representing the Judge Advocate General both professionally and socially, (he) was constantly conscious of the image of the new Judge Advocate General’s Corps and of the need to preserve and advance the existing rapport between the Office of the Judge Advocate General and agencies and individuals within and outside the Navy Department…”
On February 1, 1971 he was transferred to the Retired List of the US Navy.
In addition to the Legion of Merit, Rear Admiral Chapman has the American Campaign Medal; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal; World War II Victory Medal; National Defense Service Medal with bronze star; Korean Service Medal with three stars; and the United Nations Service Medal. He also has the Korean Presidential Unit Citation Badge.