General Chester B. deGavre
Chester Braddock deGavre was born in 1908 in Newark, New Jersey. He served three years in the 102nd Cavalry of the New Jersey National Guard before joining the United States Military Academy at West Point, where he graduated in 1933. General deGavre joined the Airborne Command at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, becoming one of the first Army officers to learn how to parachute at the beginning of World War II. From his position as a parachute training officer, as well as chief of test and development, deGavre was able to improve techniques and equipment while the Army’s airborne forces were growing. He became chief of staff for the 1944 airborne invasion of Southern France. General deGavre was awarded the Silver Star for his bravery as a regiment commander during the Korean War as well as the Legion of Merit with three oak-leaf clusters.
During his successes in the armed forces, deGavre made a hobby of carving waterfowl. After retiring in 1963 he pursued his hobby further, showing his miniature bird carvings in numerous exhibits along the east coast. After thirty more years, deGavre died at age 85 in 1993 at his home, Deep Creek Plantation, in Onancock, Virginia from cardiovascular collapse. General deGavre is survived by his widow, Tita deGavre, who he met while overseas in England and married in 1948.
In November of 2012, after the devastation of hurricane Sandy, a piece of deGavre’s history was discovered. While Donna Gugger was sifting through the storm’s debris as a part of the cleanup along the Jersey Shore, she came across deGavre’s West Point U.S. Military Academy coat from 1933. The heavy coat has tails, intricate stitching, brass buttons down the front and sleeves, and diagonal gold braids on the shoulders and is still worn today by cadets for formal occasions and parades. When Gugger noticed the words “West Point” and “issued to deGavre” she contacted West Point’s Association of Graduates, which cleaned and preserved the coat and helped Gugger find deGavre’s family. Where the coat was prior to the storm is a mystery; General deGavre’s widow was unaware that it even existed. The coat was found hundreds of miles north of the General’s home on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. General deGavre’s parents once lived in Red Bank, less than ten miles southwest of where the jacket was discovered. However, the house has been sold many times since they lived there. Tita deGavre plans to hang the coat on the wall alongside her husband’s other military garb and awards in their home at Deep Creek Plantation.