In Memory of
U.S. Army Private First Class White River, South Dakota
Mellette County

May 14, 1929 – October 8, 1952
Died of Wounds in Japan


Francis Emery Chamberlain, commonly known as “Emery,” was born May 14, 1929, to William and Gertrude (Wolfe) Chamberlain at White River, South Dakota. He was the fifth of seven children. Emery was raised on a ranch west of White River. He attended Runningbird School, a country elementary school about fifteen miles west of White River. He sang in the boys’ choir at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church. He graduated from White River High School in 1947. While in high school, Emery was on the football team; even though he was ‘small in stature,’ he played guard. After high school, Emery attended South Dakota State University. His family remembers that he was “a good brother and well liked, not only by his classmates, but also by his neighbors and other members of the community.”

While attending SDSU, Francis Emery Chamberlain was drafted into the Army on September 20, 1951, at Sioux Falls. He went overseas on March 14, 1952, as part of a mortar unit of the 17 Infantry Regiment, 7 Infantry Division. While preparing to go on R & R in Japan, Private First Class Francis Emery Chamberlain was seriously wounded in the neck, shoulder, and arm by enemy fire on October 8, 1952; although he was evacuated to a hospital in Japan, he died later that day. His commanding officer, Royal Reynolds, Jr., wrote Francis’ father about his son’s death:

The Regiment was on line in the vicinity of Kumhwa, North Korea, on the day of your son’s death. Elements of this organization were subjected to a heavy and intense enemy barrage of artillery and mortar fire during an enemy attack, and fragments from an artillery shell struck Francis and he was immediately taken to our aid station where he was examined by doctors. From the aid station he was evacuated to the 8063rd Army unit, Mobile Army Surgical Hospital, for emergency treatment. The diagnosis revealed that Francis had serious internal injuries. Our Army doctors used every device to save your son but their attempts were unrewarded. Francis passed away quietly and without pain.

Colonel Reynolds goes on to say that “Francis was well liked by all of his associates. He lived honestly and courageously and he gave his life bravely in defense of the principles we hold so dear.” Pfc. Chamberlain’s body was returned to the United States and he was buried with military honors at the Catholic section of the Winner Cemetery. Pfc. Chamberlain was awarded the Purple Heart, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the United Nations Service Medal, the Korean Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, and the Korean War Service Medal.

In closing, his family said of him: “Throughout his short life Emery was known to be a team player who was always concerned about the welfare of others.”

This entry was respectfully submitted by Jessica Gallagher, 8th Grade, Spearfish Middle School, Spearfish, South Dakota, May 13 2004. The information for this entry was provided by the SDNGM, the ABMC, an application for a SD veteran’s bonus, and Mellette County News, November 20, 1952, and December 25, 1952, issues. Additional information and profile approval by the Chamberlain family via Charles Chamberlain, brother, and Theresa McDonald, sister.