News Flash

Chester County Government News

Posted on: November 29, 2018

Two Chester County Deputy Sheriffs Upend the “six degrees of separation” Concept

Deputy Sheriff Sipple and Deputy Sheriff Neiswender

In 1990, playwright John Guare popularized the theory in a play of the same name. The premise: Any two people could be connected through a chain of up to six “friend of a friend” introductions.  For Deputy Sheriff Keith Neiswender and Deputy Sheriff Howard “Larry” Sipple, the number happened to be much smaller; however, it took a vehicle decal to determine that.

Both men met each other earlier this year when they joined the Chester County Sheriff’s Office at the same time, the culmination of a somewhat circuitous journey to West Chester. Neiswender had been working for the Berks County Sheriff’s Office, and Sipple had been employed by the Caln Township Police Department. But it was their earlier military service that prompted a startling discovery: In 1991 and 1992, they both served on the USS America.

The revelation took a couple of weeks to surface. After being hired as deputies, the pair got to know each other during 13 weeks of field training. During that time, they maintained the same schedules and often ran into each other in the parking garage. One day, Sipple did a double-take when he saw “VF-102” on the side of Neiswender’s Jeep. 

Sipple said he knew immediately that Neiswender had served on the USS America because the VF-102 squadron was a sister squadron to his own, the VF-33. When he shared that information with Neiswender, he learned that they had both been deployed to the aircraft carrier during its 1991-1992 cruise.

“It was just one of those small-world moments,” Sipple recalled.

Neiswender, who had the decal custom-made, said he never imagined the connection it would forge. “I was stunned,” he said. 

The conversation with Sipple marked the first one prompted by the logo, said Neiswender, but he’s had countless chats with others over the years about his military service. 

“I’ve never met anyone before who served on the boat at the same time I did,” he said.

Neither deputy can remember interacting directly on the warship; however, that’s not surprising given the USS America’s average population of 5,000. Envision a mega Carnival or Norwegian liner and subtract the amenities to get an idea of the USS America’s size and scope, Sipple said.

During the deputies’ deployment, the USS America was focused on the Persian Gulf during the onset of Desert Storm. Sipple was responsible for working to test equipment for the F14 Tomcat and several other aircraft that operated on the ship. Neiswender was assigned to ensuring that the aircraft were loaded with the appropriate firepower.  

“Several guys in my shop worked in his squadron,” said Sipple.

The epiphany about the deputies’ Navy connection came at a time when colleagues in the Sheriff’s Office were experiencing some trouble telling them apart. 

“We were hired at the same time and have the same general appearance: height, weight and short grey hair,” Sipple said. Compounding the difficulty: A change in personnel delayed the delivery of their nametags, which would have short-circuited the confusion. 

When the IDs finally arrived, the pair flirted briefly with switching them to continue confounding their co-workers, but their less-prankish sides prevailed.

“We both agreed we couldn’t do it,” said Neiswender. 

The temptation remains, however. “Some people still call us by the wrong name as a joke,” said Neiswender. “So in those cases, we haven’t ruled out messing with them at some point” by trading tags.

“Both of these deputies are extraordinary people and very talented. Each of them individually is a great addition to the sheriff’s office, and the serendipity of the circumstances is heartwarming,” said Chester County Sheriff Carolyn Bunny Welsh.  “It certainly has created an amazing synergy between them; they are a great team.” 

Facebook Twitter Google Plus Email

Other News in Chester County Government News

download

VISTA 2025 Update

Posted on: November 17, 2018
Chester Valley Trail in West Whiteland

Chester Valley Trail West Meeting

Posted on: October 31, 2018
License your dog

Dog Licenses are Past Due for 2018

Posted on: April 24, 2018
spoofing

Fraudulent eMail Spoofing

Posted on: February 14, 2018
new alex

Geography miscue continues magical odyssey

Posted on: November 21, 2017
2018 prelimbudget

Preliminary Budget for 2018

Posted on: November 9, 2017
Walkworks - ONE BILLION STEPS

Chester County Walks One BILLION Steps!

Posted on: October 10, 2017
va.png

Chester County Hosts Veterans’ Breakfast

Posted on: February 13, 2017
Love your Library Graphic.jpg

Take the "Love your Library" Survey

Posted on: February 10, 2017
Smart911.png

Chester County introduces Smart911

Posted on: January 31, 2017
phome scam.png

Sheriff warns of phone scams

Posted on: January 5, 2017
Passport Office

Passport Process Simplified

Posted on: April 19, 2016
Code Blue Resources

Code Blue Resources

Posted on: February 12, 2016
All-elected-officials-and-MDJs.jpg

Elected Officials Are Sworn Into Office

Posted on: January 4, 2016