June 15th, 2012 at 2:44 PM ^

Obviously none of us here would have any memories of a member of Fritz crew, but we all appreciate them pulling a somewhat moribund and wayward program back to the spotlight.

Section 1

June 15th, 2012 at 2:54 PM ^

I think that after the Heisman winners -- Harmon, Howard, Woodson -- and after the legendary Willie Heston, Bob Chappuis may have been the best skill player Michigan ever had.

He should have won the Heisman Trophy; and I always questioned how it was that Ron Kramer's #87 was retired but not Chappuis' #49.  After Heston (who would have won two or three Heismans if the award existed), this was probably the best Michigan football player on the best team in our history.


June 15th, 2012 at 2:52 PM ^

...Chappuis a legendary Michigan football player and Michigan Man, he was truly a member of the Greatest Generation. Sent to war in the middle of his tenure at Michigan, he was a gunner and radio operator on B-25s. Shot down over Italy, he bailed out and evaded capture with the help of Italian partisans before making it back to US lines.

A member of the CFB Hall of Fame and the Michigan Hall of Honor, Chappuis was the runner up for the Heisman Trophy in 1947 and MVP of the 1948 Rose Bowl for the national champion Wolverines.

I guess if you show up on the cover of Time magazine you've probably hit the big time.


M Fanfare

June 15th, 2012 at 3:03 PM ^

The story of his bailout and rescue are pretty incredible. One of his crewmates got stuck while trying to bail out, so Chappuis kicked him in the head, which dislodged him from the B-25's hatch. When rescued by the partisans, they began smuggling him and some other downed airmen along a sort of "underground railroad" toward the Swiss border. They were in a small town near Milan when the war ended, 3 months after he had been shot down.

M Fanfare

June 15th, 2012 at 4:04 PM ^

The article about him in Time (the issue with his face on the cover) has a lot of the details (October/November 1947 and around that time period). Unfortunately, you have to be a subscriber to access it online.

Also, somewhere there's a comic book about his wartime and gridiron exploits. Back in the 1930s through the 1950s (maybe into the '60s?), authors/artists used to make comic books about the big-time athletes. I remember seeing one about Chappuis, but I can't remember where.


June 16th, 2012 at 9:09 AM ^

...thanks for the gouge.

And here's a link to Greg's story including the USAAF Missing Air Crew Report.

My sources indicate that the early plan for the AFA game flyover is for participation by a B-1 and the Yankee Air Force B-25. Both aircraft are tentative and anything can happen to cancel either or both. When a strategic asset like a B-1 or a B-2 is requested for a flyover, the mission has to be coincident to a scheduled mission (transit, training, etc). So these flyovers are always iffy until they happen. The B-1 would be awesome, but I really hope that the Yankee Air Force B-25 is able to participate. I know the gent who would most likely fly the mission (former U-M AFROTC CO and retired USAF Col) and I'm positive he and the AD would want to dedicate the flight to Bob Chappuis, a B-25 crewman veteran.

Section 1

June 15th, 2012 at 3:37 PM ^

...but I recall being told about an incident where Chapuis got into trouble, as either a junior or a senior because he had a car, and students weren't allowed to have cars.  (Not sure about "on campus" or "off.")

Anyway, it was a really big scandal on campus, and Chappuis got out of it by saying that it was a fraternity brother's car or something.

Just imagine that era; military veterans like Chappuis and the Elliotts -- guys who had been in combat and faced death, commanding younger soldiers, etc. -- being told they couldn't have a car.

I hope that I haven't butchered this story too badly; I heard it from guys who were there at the time.  I don't know that there's a link or that it's ever been written up. 


June 15th, 2012 at 5:40 PM ^

Dad went to Mich on the GI Bill after seeing combat in the 87th Infantry Division.  He spoke very fondly of  Bob and the entire team, especially their use of wile and speed.  He claimed that, in the Rose Bowl,  USC was so confused and hopeless they were stepping back when the ball was snapped.

Thanks to Bob for his contributions to the university and the nation.


June 15th, 2012 at 3:10 PM ^

Man.  Tough to see the last of the earliest "legends" of my childhood fade away.  Circle of life kind of thing.

Growing up in the 80's the "old timers" did nothing but talk about the likes of Kramer and Heston and Chappuis, the Wisterts and Elroy Hirsch; while my dad went on and on about guys like Reggie Mckenzie, Dan Dierdorf and Jim Mandich.  Now I relate stories of Harbaugh, Jamie Morris, Desmond and Erick Anderson.  My kids will tell their kids about Denard and Shane Morris... and on it goes.  BLUE.

Philip A. Duey

June 15th, 2012 at 3:15 PM ^

was a chance to perform with a small group of the Men's Glee Club my freshman year (2007) for the 60th anniversary reunion of the National Championship Mad Magicians.  I distinctly remember Bob sitting no more than a quick toss in front of me.  Singing all the old Michigan Songs obviously rekindled fond memories for them, and there were very few dry eyes in the audience.  I thought it was amazing that these men (who didn't look that much bigger than us, a stark reminder of how different the game was then), who had reached the apex of what Michigan football can be, were so connected also with the campus culture that a simple rendition of "I'll Ne'er Forget My College Days" would resonate with them so.  

It was an honor to sing that night for you, Bob.  May you always execute your heavenly fakes.

"At Michigan, all hearts are true; all loyal to the Maize and Blue.  There e'er will be a golden haze around those dear old college days."


June 15th, 2012 at 3:18 PM ^

Sad to read that he passed away.  He is the great uncle of one of my best friends, Unfortunatly, I never got to meet him, really wish I could have.  he will truly be missed



June 15th, 2012 at 3:36 PM ^

In the case of Michigan, I'm growing more and more opposed to this glorification of past numbers. Because we just don't know who is going to be the next great No. X at Michigan.

This does not detract from Chappius's awesomeness, nor any other great Michigan football player.


June 15th, 2012 at 3:58 PM ^

One item on my list would be to attend that '48 Rose Bowl and see Bob and Michigan pound the freaking snot out of those goddamned Trojans.

RIP Mr. Chappuis.


June 15th, 2012 at 4:24 PM ^

I remember watching something on a Michigan Football DVD.  Chappius was talking about what it was like to play under Crisler:

"We called him the 'Lord'.  As stern and demanding as could be, but he was a perfectionist.  We'd run one of his trick plays, and if he could still see the ball, he'd say, 'Run it again!'"

RIP, Bob.


June 15th, 2012 at 4:55 PM ^

I was fortunate to sit next to Bob and his family for 15+ years at the big house and I consider him a friend. He was a great person and was very humble regarding his many accomplishments as a Michigan football player. My heart goes out to his family. Bob we will miss you...Go Blue! 

Phil Davison

June 15th, 2012 at 6:02 PM ^

I was fortunate enough to hear Bob Chappuis speak in Prof. John Bacon's "History of College Athletics" class my sophomore year (2008) and retell all of these stories being recounted again here today. Truly incredible to accomplish so much for his country and his university. RIP.