WWII Silver Star Recipient Thomas Lee Chambers
Sept 11, 1925- Feb 4, 2018
Thomas Lee [Tommy] Chambers, son of the late Mr. & Mrs. R.B. Chambers of Iowa Park, died Sunday Feb. 4, 2018 in Spring Texas.
Tommy was drafted out of high school in Wynona Oklahoma in 1943. He served in General Patton’s army during the Battle of the Bulge. He received the Silver Star for gallantry in action based on two incidents:
While Tommy’s troop was being marched back to their platoon following a battle, they passed by wounded soldiers in enemy territory. It broke his heart that he was not allowed to help them. Upon arriving back at their camp, he begged for permission to go after them. Though he was strongly advised not to do so, he was finally granted his wish, and supplied with three German prisoners. They returned to the field, carried those wounded on their backs while crawling at times under fire and successfully got them to safety.
At another time, Tommy was selected to accompany a corporal in setting explosives under bridges and along roadways. They spotted a small house and decided to take a rest. When they opened the door, there was about 40 German soldiers lying on the floor. They were caught off-guard, and having no idea there were only 2 Americans, they immediately surrendered. The two of them divided the prisoners, each taking half. One of the Germans spoke English. Tommy told him that if anybody tried to run, he would shoot all of them. He had no problem at all. When he later was asked, “Would you have done it?” he said, “No, but they didn’t know that. They were just scared little boys like we were…” He and the English-speaking prisoner visited all the way back to headquarters. He was credited with capturing the enemy soldiers.
When the war was over, and it was time to recognize outstanding deeds, Tommy was shocked to hear his name called. He had no idea he had done anything outside the ordinary, or that his fellow soldiers had submitted his name for recognition. One of the other recipients told him, “We get these medals for Stupidity in Battle!”
Tommy always carried a picture of his older sister, Lieutenant Roberta Chambers, a nurse in the evacuation hospitals on the front lines, also in Patton’s army. Word got around, and someone located her just 50 miles away. An officer took Tommy to see her… a visit he described as “two hours of hugging and kissing and crying” before he had to go back to his own platoon. He described it as “the best day of my life!”
When he returned home, his family had moved to Clara Texas, north of Iowa Park. His job with Skelly Oil Company was waiting for him, due to his father having been with the company since before it was actually organized by his friend W.G. Skelly. But Tommy took some time to attend the University of Oklahoma, where he met and married his wife, Marguerite, before returning to Skelly in Burkburnett. He later was transferred to Velma, Oklahoma and Pampa Texas before retiring and moving to Hobbs New Mexico. There he established the Hobbs Water Mart Inc. before again retiring and moving to Kingwood Texas to be near their daughter. Marguerite died in 2014.
Tommy was also preceded in death by brothers Cecil and Glen, and sisters Lillie, Nina, Roberta and Charlotte.
Survivors include his son, Steve Chambers and wife Brenda of Gunter, Texas, daughter Susan Blakemore and husband Bailey of Kingwood, Texas, sister Maryanne Chambers Gilmore and husband Bill of Iowa Park, as well as many nieces, nephews, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.