North High School Wall of Honor
Chester Irwin Lappen
Class of January, 1937
Research done by Claradell Shedd, Class of 1953. PAGE IN PROGRESS
Chester Irwin Lappen
Chester was a member of North High's class of January, 1937. His next of kin was listed as Mr. Robert Lappen, 694 Polk Boulevard, Des Moines, IA. Chet's service number was __________. The correct information will be supplied for the chronology below when received from the family.
Chester Irwin Lappen
Year   Rank   Status
January, 1937   x   Graduated from North High, Des Moines, IA
date x Worked x Where and when?
date   Enlisted; US Army   Where and when? *Intelligence unit. US Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM)? Counterintelligence Corps?
date x Training x Basic Training where and when?
date x Training x Fort Ord, CA.
June, 1940 x Schooling x He and his future wife, Jon Tyroler Irmas, graduated from UCLA.
June, 1941 x Family x Married Jon Tyroler Irmas.
June, 1941 x Schooling x Harvard Law School. Graduated magna cum laude, establishing academic records.
date x Employed x Laramie, WY. Served as a Special Agent in the U.S. Army Counter-Intelligence Corps.
Examples below:
March 10, 1942
x US Army x From San Francisco, CA. Troop ship, converted SS Lurline, from San Francisco, CA. to Hawaii (Oahu, and Hawaii).
date x US Army x Training at Schofield Barracks, HI.
date x Enroute x Train from Fort Lewis, WA to military installation near St. Louis, MO for discharge.
date x Discharge x Home to Des Moines, IA.
date x Schooling x Where and when? Law degree?
1946 x Employed x Attorney in Los Angeles, firm, Mitchell, Silberberg & Knupp, specializing in ______.
Civilian x Retirement x In CA.
*Intelligence in WWII
The Military Intelligence Service, the Signal Security Agency, and, for a time, the Counter Intelligence Corps were centrally directed organizations under the control of headquarters elements in the continental United States. However, the bulk of the Army's intelligence assets were in the field, at the disposal of commanders in the different theaters of operation established during the course of World War II. At the beginning of World War I, Brig. Gen. Joseph E. Kuhn had stated that intelligence was "as essential to modern armies as ammunition," and a second world conflict continued to demonstrate the truth of this dictum. In all the various theaters there were certain uniformities of intelligence organization. Army officers served on combined intelligence staffs with various Allies. The theater signal intelligence service was operated on a compartmented basis separate from other intelligence activities, and assignment of intelligence and counterintelligence specialists to units was normally under centralized theater control. However, there were also differences in intelligence arrangements from theater to theater, depending on local conditions and circumstances.

In its allotment of campaign credits, the U.S. Army recognized the existence of only three great theaters of operation in World War II: the American, the Asiatic-Pacific, and the EuropeanAfrican-Middle Eastern. The actual command structure was more fragmented than this might suggest. During the course of World War II, major Army formations were committed to combat in four geographic areas: the Pacific Ocean Area (POA); the South West Pacific Area (SWPA); the European Theater of Operations (ETO); and the North African Theater of Operations (NATO), later redesignated the Mediterranean Theater of Operations (MTO). Paradoxically U.S. Army contributions from an intelligence standpoint were greater in the Pacific area, but the European war had a larger impact on the ultimate organization of Army Intelligence. Most of American military resources in the field went into the fight against Germany, including the bulk of Military Intelligence assets. In addition, the nature of the language problem inherent in operations against the Japanese made Pacific requirements more specialized and less universal. The Army's focus on Europe and the relatively shorter distances between Washington and the field in this theater allowed lessons learned to translate rapidly into structural modifications.
SS Lurline Camp Wolters, TX
Fort Ord, CA
SS Lurline from San Francisco, CA to Oahu, HI; Camp Wolters, TX, Ford Ord, CA
Philippine Islands Okinawa Deployment
Philippines (correct photos coming) Okinawa Deployment (correct coming)

US Army Seal

US Army Intelligence and Security Command Seal

Chester Irwin Lappen
Company I, 3d Battalion, 106th Infantry?
27th Infantry Division?
US Army

Combat Infantryman's Badge

Purple Hart; Good Conduct Medal; Asiatic-Pacific with three battle stars; Victory Medal 

Examples: Purple Heart; Good Conduct; Asiatic-Pacific with three battle stars; Victory Medal;
correct entries coming
Chester Irwin Lappen
May 4, 1919 - December 18, 2010

Our father, Chet Lappen, has died. Surrounded by his loving family, he passed away peacefully from natural causes at the Lappens' long-term home in Pacific Palisades on December 18. He was 91.

Dad was born in 1919 in Des Moines, Iowa, to Robert and Anna Lappen. He came to Los Angeles in 1936 to attend UCLA, where he played basketball and, most importantly (for us), he met Mom, the former Jon Tyroler Irmas. They dated throughout college and were married in June of 1941, the year after they graduated from UCLA. They moved together to Boston so that Dad could attend Harvard Law School, where his impressive achievements included serving as Editor-In-Chief of the Harvard Law Review, graduating magna cum laude and receiving the Fay Diploma, the law school's highest honor. In fact, Dad's grades at Harvard set the high-water mark which stood for many decades and led him to be interviewed on a national radio program to discuss his outstanding academic achievements.

Following law school, Mom and Dad moved to Laramie, Wyoming where Dad served as a Special Agent in the U.S. Army Counter-Intelligence Corps. Like many fathers of his generation, Dad enjoyed regaling us with his stories about how he won the war. Some of those stories may have been at least partially accurate.

Dad and Mom moved to Los Angeles and, in 1946, he joined the venerable law firm of Mitchell, Silberberg & Knupp, where Dad's illustrious career spanned an amazing period of over sixty years (he retired only a few short years ago). During a remarkable career, he served on over twenty corporate boards (many of which were for public companies) and represented major motion picture studios. Dad traveled often, starting in the 1940s, to domestic cities and foreign lands to negotiate on behalf of his clients. He also represented major actors and actresses as well as many leaders of the business world. His career paralleled a time in the law where one could be involved with extremely disparate matters, from litigation, corporate, land-use and development and other distinct areas of the law. He truly was a titan of the legal field, gaining the respect of both the legal and business communities for his acumen and sharp business skills.

Dad was an avid golfer and was an early member of Riviera Country Club. His love of golf no doubt was part of the reason why our family moved to the Riviera section of Pacific Palisades in 1953. Dad was proud of the fact that they'd purchased the home from the novelist, Thomas Mann, one of several prominent German émigrés who had moved to the Westside of Los Angeles in the 1930s. Dad remained an active member of Riviera Country Club until he died -- though no longer a golfer, he enjoyed Sunday night dinners there with family and friends.

Dad was one of the early members of Leo Baeck Temple and worked tirelessly alongside his brother, Stan Lappen, and long-time friend, Rabbi Leonard Beerman, to develop the Temple into one of Los Angeles' preeminent Jewish institutions. While not a highly religious man in a formal sense, Dad was proud of his Jewish heritage and spent much time and energy participating in various research programs tracing the family's Jewish lineage back many generations to Lithuania and Spain.

Dad was a provider. He was proud of the fact that he took the family on many memorable vacations, some lasting for several weeks, at a time when it was quite difficult for a business person to stay in touch with "the office" while out of town. For example, we spent six weeks on Maui in the mid-1950s before Hawaii was a state. Other trips to such places as Western Europe, Russia, Africa and Asia followed and will be remembered always by his grateful family. Even in his later years, Dad put a lot of energy into creating family experiences, including a 2003 riverboat trip down the Mississippi, from Memphis to New Orleans, followed the next year by a riverboat trip on the Columbia River in Oregon. And by "family", we are talking about an entourage of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren totaling about three dozen people!

Dad's love of family and togetherness was part of his reason for working with our mother's uncle, Stanley Rosin, to build a home in Avalon, on Catalina Island, where he and Mom, as well as many other family members and friends, have spent much quality time. Dad was proud of that development and Mom was even more so, as Catalina played a huge role in her family's history -- her family has had a presence on the island since 1885 and her mother was the first female of European descent to be born on the island (in 1895). Dad especially enjoyed the "golf cart and speedboat" pace of life in Catalina and retreated there as often as he could.

Dad was a very generous man. He was a giver of both time and funds to many community and other charitable events but, for him, charity started in the home. He gave tirelessly to family members who had a business (or even a personal) matter to discuss with him and often provided "seed money" for family ventures.

Anyone who knew our father was familiar with his lightning-quick and irreverent wit and his creative mind. He had a terrific sense of humor and a notorious ability for the tall tale. He really got into a story-- just like he really got into life, with an expansive enthusiasm and vigorous energy.

Dad is survived by our mother, his wife of almost seventy years (Jon Lappen), four children (John (Miyuki), Tim (Gail), Andrea (David Smith) and Sally (Nik Warren)), nine grandchildren (Angela Rosen (Adam), Jeremy (Kim), Amy Lappen Oliver (Neal), Jay, Tyler (Karen), Elena Lappen Smith, Dia Warren (Suresh), Caitrina Stiles (Wyeth) and Kaitlin Ty Warren) and eight great-grandchildren (Charlotte and Matthew Rosen, Ally and Ryder Lappen; Siena and Raya Stiles, and Ranji and Akash Warren). He also is survived by his brother, Stanley (Eleanor) and his loving niece and nephews, Rhonda Lappen (Rock), William (Robin) and David (Susan). Dad was predeceased by his sister, Norma. Our family also gives tremendous thanks for the decades'-long love and support of Mered Fissha.

A memorial service for Dad will be held at Leo Baeck Temple in West Los Angeles at noon on Monday, January 3. All who knew Dad are welcome to attend. Donations in Dad's memory may be made to the Center for Childhood (, a charitable organization founded by our mother in 1985 to enhance the daily lives of children.

Dad lived a long, full and memorable life. We will miss him terribly.

Published in the Los Angeles Times on December 26, 2010
(1) The World War II Army Enlistment Records contain information on more than nine million indivdual enlistments. These records can be found online at

(2) The comprehensive list of names from North High's 1893-2018 graduation classes are from Claradell Shedd's North Des Moines High School website. The names of North High School graduates can be found online at Chester Irwin Lappen's 1937 class page is:
09/11/10. Living most recently in CA. Died 12/18/10.
Music: "Wind Beneath My Wings"
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