Now a retired school administrator, Maple was drafted into the Army at 18 years old, almost immediately after graduating from high school near Chillicothe in 1943.
"I had two years of typing. I was a pretty good typist. I can still type, at 83 years old. I took two years shorthand, which was very unusual for a boy. Nobody but me would take it, and it got me three stripes awfully easy," he said.
Growing up on a farm, and in the depression era, Maple was no stranger to hard work, either.
"I've plowed corn with horses, and all that stuff. I've cut timber. (We) had a sawmill, had a country grocery store ... we learned what it was to work. I was in a family of seven and my father was a skilled carpenter. We built probably five houses I've lived in," he said.
Because he was stricken with a mild case of polio as a child, the Army was reluctant to take him, but Maple insisted, and they agreed to take him on limited service. He was stationed as a junior cook at Billings General Hospital at Fort Harrison, Ind., until one day when an officer took notice of his high school experience.
"He said, 'Looking through your personnel file, you've got two years shorthand and two years typing. What are you doing working in a kitchen?' And I said, 'Sir, I don't ask questions like that, I just do what I'm told when I'm told to do it.' And he said 'Well, I'm looking for a secretary for the adjutant down at headquarters. You look to me like you're just the person I'm looking for, so Monday morning at 8 o'clock, you report down to the captain and the adjutant's office,'" Maple remembered.
That was in December 1943, and from that day on, he was stationed in the headquarters office of the general hospital. He remembered the perks of the job - working only 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, with weekends off, leaving him free to hitchhike back home to Ross County.
In May 1944, the Army picked up 150 people from Billings General to serve as medics in the field as they began planning for an invasion. Maple was among them, and was sent for training at Camp Grant, in Illinois.
"We had to go through for four or five months of intensive combat medical training. How to protect yourself, what to do, and all that stuff," he said.
From there, he was sent to England with the 170th General Hospital, which later landed at Omaha Beach. The 170th set up a tent city in an apple orchard, where they waited 25 days for their equipment to arrive. After that, the 170th moved their tent city to LeMans.
"In the eight months we operated, we had 8,000 wounded personnel, and never lost a man. We never had a wounded die on us," Maple said.
It was in 170th Maple met Maj. Helen Callon, the chief nurse of the unit. He recalled the way Callon would yell at soldiers who would come into the hospital and put their muddy feet upon the bed rails. One day, the hospital was visited by a special guest.
"General Ike walked in, and the first thing he did was put his foot right up on the bed rail. The guys couldn't wait until he got out the door ... 'Major, why didn't you tell Ike to get his foot off that bed?,'" Maple said with a laugh.
He also said he remembers digging trenches in France to heat water. One day, they returned with some firewood, and among the pile of kindling was a mahogany bed post.
"Maj. Callon was standing there and she said, 'You're not burning that. It would make a nice lamp,'" he said. "But there was a round ball on top of it, and we said 'Major, can we have that ball for the top of our flagpole?'"
They struck a deal on the spot - the boys could have the ball, if they'd use the post to make her a desk lamp. The lamp was made out of that salvaged wood (for the base), discarded milk cans (for the frame) and brown paper towels laminated with X-ray film (for the shade). One of the POWs at their hospital was an artist, and drew pictures of some of the local buildings and structures on the paper towel shade.
After leaving the service in 1946, Maple returned home and attended college on the G.I. Bill at Ohio University, where he would meet his future wife, Evelyn. He studied education and graduated in 1950, and then later added a master's degree in administration. He worked 30 years in education, including 10 years as superintendent of Wheelersburg schools until he retired in 1981.
Several years after retirement, Maple was the lieutenant governor of Kiwanis and he and 12 others went to visit the Indianapolis Kiwanis Club - the largest Kiwanis club in the world and now the organizations national headquarters. His companions asked if he knew anyone in Indianapolis, and his thoughts turned immediately to Callon. They convinced him to look her up in the phone book, 40 years after the war.
"I said, 'You don't remember me,' and she said, 'I sure do! Chillicothe, Ohio!'," Maple said, reciting their telephone conversation. "You see, every letter you write in the service, if you're an enlisted man, must be handed to an officer to be censored, and she would write little notes to my mother. 'Don't worry about him, I'll take care of him and send him home to you after the war.'"
Since that reunion in 1986, Maple, along with his wife and kids, rekindled his friendship with Callon, visiting her often in Indiana.
When she died, Maple said, she was an international specialist in prenatal care. After her death, Maple inherited that old mahogany lamp that they made in the war. He said he's thought many times about donating it to the Ladies Military Museum in Washington, D.C.
"You make friends with people in service that you never want to leave," he said.