Navy Fireman First Class Ralph Marion “Rip” Chambley

Our Hometown Heroes

Ralph Marion “Rip” Chambley

U.S. Navy Fireman First Class

Born on January 30, 1922, Ralph Marion “Rip” Chambley was a good looking sailor. Rising to the rank of Fireman First Class, the U.S. Navy sailor would be stationed on the USS Bismark Sea. This was a US Marine Corps commissioned escort aircraft carrier which launched in April, 1944. The main mission of the ship and her crew was to provide support to the fleet between San Diego and the Marshall Islands.

On February 16, 1945, the Bismark Sea arrived off the coast of Iwo Jima to provide support for the invasion of the island. On February 21, 1945, despite heavy gunfire, a Japanese kamikaze planes tore into the starboard side of the ship. Even through Chambley and others had the fires under control, another plane hit and disabled the ship. The order to abandon ship was given. But it was too late. The Bismark Sea began to sink, killing 318 men. Chambley was killed in action on September 21, 1945. The Bismark Sea was the last U.S. aircraft carrier to be lost during World War 2.

Chambley’s wife, Eunice Mae Chambley was notified of her husband’s death. The Navy Fireman was buried at sea but is memorialized and honored at the National Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Chambley may not have returned home alive but a grateful community now honors the Navy Fireman. An individual plaque will be installed in Historic Downtown Griffin. The plaque is sponsored by Hal Rahn and NORCOM.