Three people immediately come to mind when Harold Chandler ’71 thinks about military service — his Wofford College ROTC instructor, Brig. Gen. Ed Hall, and his two older brothers.
Chandler’s gifts to support the college’s Military Memorial project honors their service and all Terriers who’ve died while on active duty dating back to World War I and Wofford’s establishment of a U.S. Army Reserve Officer Training Corps unit.
Hall, a military historian who is active with Spartanburg American Legion Post 28, initiated the idea for the college’s memorial.
“He was a very serious military officer, but he could relate to students,” says Chandler, Wofford trustee emeritus.
Relating to students on a college campus was difficult for many military officers during Hall’s years at Wofford, 1967-1970, says Chandler. Wofford, like many colleges, had its share of students who protested the Vietnam War. Chandler was impressed with Hall’s ability to discuss the country’s efforts in Vietnam while also having patience and understanding for those who were against the war.
Chandler, who grew up in Belton, South Carolina, was one of eight children. His two older brothers left college and voluntarily enlisted in the Marines. One served in Vietnam and the other was stationed in Okinawa, Japan, while Chandler was a student at Wofford. He witnessed the discipline they had when they returned home and how they finished college, earned postgraduate degrees and pursued careers in academia and healthcare.
Chandler, who enjoyed a 48-year business career in financial services and industrial manufacturing, was an ROTC cadet at Wofford and the quarterback and a captain of the Terrier football team, including the 1970 team that played for the NAIA National Championship.
He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army and was prepared to be deployed to Vietnam. The war, however, began to de-escalate, and Chandler and many others were given the option to reduce their active-duty commitment from two years to three months. That allowed him to pursue an MBA, and he served in the U.S. Army Reserve for 10 years. The rigorous training in ROTC and lessons learned from veterans shaped how he approached work and leadership.
“You learned to stay with it, work hard. It’s valuable to know how to do things correctly and to practice, practice, practice,” Chandler says.
Another veteran who impacted Chandler’s life was Jim Brakefield, who was Wofford’s head football coach when Chandler played. Brakefield was a World War II fighter pilot.
“He brought a certain grit but with a balanced set of expectations,” Chandler says. “He placed emphasis on not losing because someone outworked you.”
Chandler’s father-in-law piloted a landing craft during World War II. He didn’t talk about his military service, but, according to Chandler, his disciplined life and hard work was shaped by it.
Chandler says that he’s heard from several of his Terrier football teammates about how the Military Memorial project is giving them an opportunity to express gratitude to those who’ve served. Chandler encourages others to think about people who’ve served and inspired them.
“My hope is that people who are affiliated with Wofford will find that this is a project they can support,” Chandler says.