Willard Nathaniel Lappin was born August 14, 1911, in Mount Sterling, Illinois, the son of Halmer “Hal” Sumner Lappin and Bessie Lamb (Curry) Lappin.1 He had four sisters and two brothers.2 He graduated from the University of Iowa in 1933 with a degree in chemical engineering.3 He lived in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1935, where his soon to be wife also lived. He married Dorothy Davis October 3, 1936, in Chicago. He and Dorothy had one son, Don E. Lappin, born in April 1940.4 Willard was self-employed as a merchant5, owning a retail grocery store, and lived in Meredosia, Illinois, at the time he registered for the draft on October 16, 1940, just six months after the birth of his son. His brother, Sterling Allworth Lappin, registered for the draft on the same day.
He served in the Army from August 1, 1942, to August 14, 19716, retiring from the Army Reserves at the rank of major. From 1943-1946, Captain Lappin served as the assistant adjutant in the Engineers Replacement Training Center, Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri, where future members of combat engineer units were trained.7 It was one of three such training centers in the United States. The basic principles of military engineering were taught along with the function of soldiers in combat. They learned how to use tools, construct fixed and floating bridges, build roads and obstacles, execute demolitions, and how to defend against an enemy attack. From the early part of 1941 until the post closed in 1946, Fort Leonard Wood trained some 300,000 fighting men. Such famous divisions as the 6th, 8th, 75th, 97th, and the 70th trained there during World War II.8
In 1954, he was listed as a chemist in the City Directory,9 having begun his employment at the Corps of Engineers in 1953 in the foundation and materials branch.10 In the summer of 1955, Major Lappin and 17 other members of the 6942nd Army Reserve School in Davenport, participated in a 15-day program of active-duty training at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri.11 In 1959, Willard was appointed commander of the First Battalion of the Third Regiment of the 85th Division of the Army Reserve.12 He had previously been the executive officer of the engineer battalion for four years. He resigned as commander in 1960 due to the pressure of personal affairs and his position with the Rock Island District, Army Corps of Engineers.13
During his employment at the Corps of Engineers, he received an award for “sustained superior performance” in 196114, was promoted to chief of the paint and corrosion laboratory in 1972, and retired in 1973 after 20 years. He lived in Rock Island, Illinois, in 1993, and was a member of First United Methodist Church. He loved fishing and was an avid golfer, with two highlights in his life: a hole in one and he shot his age when he was in his 80s.15 His wife died in 1995 and is buried at the Rock Island National Cemetery. When Willard died at the age of 89 at Trinity Medical Center, Rock Island, in 2001, he was buried with her at the Rock Island National Cemetery.
3 Willard Lappin promoted by engineer corps The Rock Island Argus Rock Island IL 7 Sep 1972 page 21 downloaded from Newspaper.com March 16, 2022
10 Willard Lappin retires as corps chemist The Rock Island Argus Moline IL, 20 Dec 1973 page 24 downloaded from Newspapers.com on March 16, 2022
11 Willard Lappin received orders for summer duty Quad-City Times Davenport, IA 04 Jun 1955 page 9 downloaded from Newspaper.com March 16, 2022
12 Willard Lappin appointed to commander Army Reserve The Rock Island Argus Rock Island, IL 18 May 1959 page 2 downloaded from Newspaper.com March 16, 2022
13 Willard Lappin resigns as battalion commander The Daily Times Davenport, IA 16 Jun 1960 downloaded from Newspapers.com March 16, 2022
14 Willard Lappin receives cash award The Daily Times Davenport, IA 01 Feb 1961 page 3 downloaded from Newspapers.com March 16, 2022