Loomis Chaffee Ties to the U.S. Military

Maeve Dowd '23, Staff Writer

Several Loomis Chaffee faculty and hundreds of alumni have served in the United States military. During World War II, students and teachers alike contributed to war efforts. The plaque “Loomis Boys Who Died in World War II” in Founders Hall bears silent but strong witness to their service and sacrifice.
Chris Lamy, Director of Campus Safety, has an extensive military resumé, with several deployments across various Military Occupational Specialties (MOS). When he first joined the Army in 1985, Mr. Lamy was an infantry soldier for four years. Shortly after boot camp, Mr. Lamy was deployed to Korea for his first duty station, where he patrolled the demilitarized border with North Korea.
His first overseas deployment helped shape his appreciation for other countries and “seeing a different culture and meeting different types of people.”
Following his time in Korea, Mr. Lamy went on three different training missions in California, and then he completed his first four-year enlistment. Later, Mr. Lamy reenlisted after the start of Operation Desert Storm in 1991, when Iraq invaded Kuwait.
“I wanted to serve my country again; however, that conflict ended so quickly,” he said.
Mr. Lamy later switched to the Army Reserves, and then he served in a drill Sergeant unit, where he learned how to train new recruits.
After 9/11, Mr. Lamy once again felt the call of duty, and he signed up for his third enlistment. This time, he switched his MOS to military police. After attending military police school, he was stationed at Fort Drum in upstate New York and completed his last year of service in 2004.
“I’m still in touch with a lot of the men and women I served with,” Mr. Lamy said.
His transformative experience in the military taught him many values including the importance of the “team concept.”
Mr. Lamy’s daughter, Sam, chose the military path as well. She is serving as a paratrooper and First Lieutenant in Pensacola, Florida. She recently was part of the Operation Allies Refuge and helped evacuate U.S. citizens and refugees from Afghanistan.
Another faculty member, Melanie Carr, began teaching Drawing at Loomis this fall. As one of the first women in her position in the U.S. Navy, Ms. Carr has a unique story of her time at sea.
Ms. Carr’s four-year enlistment started in 1991. After boot camp, she attended an accession training school for nine months and was then enlisted and trained to be an operations specialist. Later, she received orders to serve on a ship in Pearl Harbor. Ms. Carr worked with radar and dead reckoning tools to assist the ship’s captain.
Ms. Carr’s decision to enlist “helped me embark on my own life and do things my own way.” When she first arrived in Hawaii, she felt an initial shock being so far away from home. While she knew there was no going back, she was confident she made the right decision.
Another surprise for Ms. Carr was the rigid class-oriented structure in the military and scarce female presence in the military. In a hugely male-dominated field, Ms. Carr was outspoken and defiant. As a 19-year old, Ms. Carr could never imagine herself to “accept that was the way of the world, even though it was.”
After her 4-year enlistment, Ms. Carr decided to switch paths and study art, one of her passions. In retrospect, Ms. Carr feels she learned valuable lessons that she carries with throughout life.
“To live on a ship and do your work, you obtain such a unique perspective…to see the world and to understand the world from the middle of the Pacific Ocean is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” she said.
LC alumna Lindsay Gabow ’12 also has experience being one of the few women in a male-dominated field. After attending the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, she was one of the first women chosen for Army Ranger training.
Furthermore, Modern & Classical Languages Faculty Marc Cardwell experienced a wide variety of military specialties during his time at the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland. He spent his childhood in Venezuela before moving to Virginia in the fifth grade with his father. Growing up in America, Mr. Cardwell witnessed pivotal events like 9/11 and the Iraq invasion, making him consider enlistment in the military.
Mr. Cardwell remembers that some of his happiest and unhappiest memories were at the academy. He is grateful for the opportunity it provided but found some of the traditions to be intense and even a little absurd. Nevertheless, Mr. Cardwell fondly reflects on his experiences and appreciates the connection he has formed with other veterans.
“When you meet someone else that served, there’s a connection and level of trust that you don’t find elsewhere,” he said.
In addition to Loomis faculty members serving in the U.S. military, the institution’s most prominent contributions to war efforts began during World War II. This unique era was a time of loss, but it also provided new opportunities for students. As written in the Loomis Alumni Bulletin in the Winter of 1942, “these are the days that test our ingenuity and resourcefulness.”
Pre-aeronautical night courses were offered to students by several devoted faculty. Students also took part in regular trips to Simsbury, Connecticut for flight training. These curriculum adjustments directly accommodated the ever-changing times.
Both the Loomis and Chaffee schools, separated at the time, strictly rationed meat and wheat consumption for students. Like many of Loomis’ peer schools, interscholastic sports were canceled to save rubber for war efforts.
The largest sacrifice, however, was the hundreds of students and teachers who departed in 1942 shortly after the U.S. entered World War II. Upperclassmen accelerated their course plans so they could graduate early and begin serving in the military. The school bulletins were filled with obituaries of fellow students who had promising futures.
Even after nearly four long years of wartime service, when teachers and student enrollment returned to pre-war levels, and normal class routines were restored, a part of Loomis was still missing. Nearly 45 students had died, including one devoted faculty member and coach, Martin Harold Johnson. Mr. Johnson was an excellent role model for students and upheld the school’s most important values. Both in the past and present, community members on the Island have continually demonstrated their dedication to the best self and common good with their steadfast contributions in serving the United States.