Clair Jesse Clark

Military

Object Number - UPL 54860 - 1LT Clair Jesse Clark Pilot 340th BG - 486th BS - 12th AF

Connections

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Units served with

  • Unit Hierarchy: Group
  • Air Force: Ninth Air Force Twelfth Air Force
  • Type Category: Bombardment

Places

Events

Event Location Date Description

Born

Mount Rose, North Dakota 1920-12-24

Enlisted

Fort Leavenworth, KS 1940-07-02

Other

Combat Mission

Pontecorvo, Italy 1944-01-14 On January 14, we flew a 24 plane mission on a bridge at Ponte Corvo, Italy, which was on the bomb line. As we were about to drop our bombs, I saw my right wingman go down in flames. A few seconds later, my leader was shot down; I had my navigator plot where they bailed out. There was not much time to do so because I was hit in my right eye, though I didn̓t know it until I landed. My navigator was hit, and a piece of flak went through his flak jacket, wedging against his skin without drawing blood. My right engine caught fire; the extinguisher didn̓t work, so I feathered the engine and dove to put out the flames. I was all alone when I headed back to base on one engine. It was really hazy and I couldn̓t see much. I saw darkness ahead of me and realized it was Mt. Vesuvius. I banked sharply to the left, I was below 1500 feet and slowly losing altitude. I told my crew they could bail out and they asked, "What are you going to do, lieutenant?" I told them I was going to try and set it down if I could find a flat place to do so. They answered that they were going to stay with me. In about ten minutes, I spotted a landing strip to my left and realized it was the A-36 base. I immediately headed for it and tried to contact the tower. I had no luck nor did my radioman. I just kept heading for the landing strip. Suddenly, I felt the plane rock and saw an A-36 below and in front of me. In a few seconds, it happened again and then again. Three A-36s passed below me and went in to land. As the third one went under me very close, the tower spotted us and began shooting flares. The A-36 right ahead of me turned, saw my plane, and shifted to land on the far right side of the strip. I shifted to the left, but it was a little too far. As my wheels hit the ground, one wheel was off the strip. My right tire and nose tire were both flat and that pulled me onto the runway. I gunned the motor, kicked rudder and straightened up, cut the motor off and coasted to the end of the runway. We all piled out of the plane as a crew from the shop came out in a truck to check things out and carry us back to the shop. It was then that one of my crew said I had blood running out of my eye and down my chin. I guess with the stress of all that had happened, I didn̓t even know it. The tower had called my base and it was just a short time until someone was there to take us back to our base. I was taken to Dr. Wathan̓s office, where he removed a small piece of flak from my eye and the back of my neck. Fortunately, neither wound was serious, and two days later, I was back on another mission. Clair J. Clark was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his actions on this mission.

Died

Crockett, TX 2002-09-27

Buried

Crockett, TX 2002-09-29 Clark Family Cemetery Crockett, Houston County, Texas, USA PLOT Plot #1 under the oak tree

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