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#40 Harold Denny “Soup” Campbell, Class of 1917, World’s Safest Flyer

Jeff Dobbin 200 Things about Norwich, Leaders & Legacy

Harold Denny CampbellIn 1926, President Coolidge presented Harold Denny “Soup” Campbell, class of 1917, with the Schiff Trophy for nearly 900 hours of flight time without an accident. Newspaper headlines across the country touted him as the “world’s safest flyer.” Charles Lindbergh’s historic flight took place just one year after Campbell’s award, in 1927.

“Soup” Campbell was born and raised in Waterbury, Vermont and graduated from Norwich in 1917, just months before joining the Marine Corps and heading to the front lines of World War I. He fought in the historic Battle of Belleau Wood, thought to be battle where the Marine nickname “Devil Dog” originated. Campbell was wounded in October of 1918 just before the Armistice, and was in Paris to witness the massive celebrations when the Armistice was signed.

Following the war, Campbell became a Marine aviator in 1921. During the 12-month period that earned him the Schiff Trophy, he was stationed in San Diego, and would subsequently serve in Nicaragua, Guam, and Cuba before the start of World War II.

After rising to the spotlight, Campbell continued to impress the country with his aviation prowess. In 1929, he was invited to pilot a test flight of the largest airplane ever to take off from American soil. He did so in Washington, D.C. with 35 distinguished passengers. He was fond of taking detours to fly over his family home in Waterbury, Vermont and his alma mater. During World War II, he continued to distinguish himself, serving in both the European and Pacific theaters as well as on the staffs of General Eisenhower, General Patton, and Lord Louis Mountbatten.

Campbell retired from the Marines with the rank of major general in 1946 and enjoyed a career as a school teacher and principal in Waterbury. His son, Harold Denny Campbell III, graduated from Norwich in 1951.

You can learn more about “Soup” Campbell from his extensive biographical file in the University Archives.