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Arkansans Behind the Flag: Harold "Chilt" Chilton

Born November 12, 1922, in New York, “Chilt” had no idea that he was destined to be a part of the “Greatest Generation”. He grew up in a small family, went to school, and lived the life of a normal boy during the Great Depression. After he graduated from high school, he began traveling with a band across the country.

December 7, 1941, he found himself on one such trip when he heard that the Empire of Japan had attacked America’s naval forces at Pearl Harbor. Once he finished his trip, he joined the United States Marine Corps. He was trained for combat, but the Marines had other plans for him. While he was still in the dangerous parts of the war, “Chilt” was assigned to play in the Marine Corps Band bringing entertainment to the troops on the islands which was essential in keeping the troops’ morale high. He was in several island campaigns most notably Bougainville and Okinawa. It was specifically on Okinawa that he not only got to play for the troops but also participate in some military maneuvers which included checking caves for hiding Japanese soldiers.

Once the atomic bombs were dropped, “Chilt” was sent to China to help in cleaning up after the war. He then returned home where he did his best to merge back into daily life. “Chilt” again began traveling with a band, but on one of his trips back home he attended a revival meeting and committed his life to Christ. He then attended college and became a pastor. He met and married his wife at school, and then they proceeded to become missionaries to the same theater in which he served as a Marine. After six years of overseas missions, they returned to the states to continue in the ministry. He then moved to Arkansas where he lives to this day continuing to play music and touch the lives of individuals around him.

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