Clarence John LokkerMilitary
783rd Bomb Squadron
465th Bomb Group
Lokker was KIA on 20 November 1944
Photo taken in the control tower at Pantanella Airfield
Clarence Jack Lokker has answered that last call, and now stands on the “Plains of Valhalla” with others of that “long gray line” who await us all.
Prior to coming to West Point Jack spent one year at Hope College in Holland, Michigan, where his effervescent personality and jovial nature assisted him in becoming class president. His college education was pointing to a law career so that he could join his father’s line of success. However, his desires to don Cadet Gray grew until Jack managed to secure an appointment to West Point. He came to us in late July and was accepted immediately into the F Company Plebe “social” life. Due to his tardiness in arrival, Jack was an easy mark for the upper classmen during summer camp. Needless to say he was faced with continual correction to bring him up to the standards of the July first arrivees. All this Jack took with his usual smile and determination.
While at the Academy his personality led to his acquisition of many friends who now mourn his passing. His personal appearance and tactical record rewarded him with Lieutenant stripes in his First Class year. While at the Academy he was a constant supporter of the 100th Night shows and his technique guaranteed him a spot in the dancing chorus.
Upon graduation Jack chose the Air Corps, for his desire to “hit the blue” was well known. He first went to Spartan School of Aeronautics in Tulsa, Oklahoma and from there to Randolph Field, Texas. He received his wings in March 1942.
Upon receiving his wings Jack immediately married his college girlfriend Sybil Bralley, of Holland, Michigan. The marriage took place at Randolph Field, and was attended by some of his classmates who were stationed in that area. His next assignment in the Air Corps was at the Columbus Air Training School at Columbus, Mississippi. After a short while as an instructor he was made Commandant of Cadets until he received his orders for overseas training. After receiving his training in four-motored airplanes he left for overseas in February 1944.
Before leaving for overseas Jack’s first and only child was born—David John—on December 29, 1943. Jack managed to get home for three days to see his wife and son before he had to leave.
Jack’s squadron was stationed at Foggia, Italy, and after a few months he assumed command of the squadron and was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel.
During his stay in Italy he completed about forty combat missions and received the Distinguished Flying Cross with three Clusters, the Air Medal, and the Purple Heart. His combat activity dealt mainly with missions over France, Italy, Germany, Austria, Roumania, Hungary, and Yugoslavia. The day of his last mission was November 20, 1944. He was leading a wing of B-24’s to their target at Bleclihammerm, Silesia, Germany. While over the target the plane received a direct hit and blew up. Six of the crew escaped. Out of these six, five became prisoners of war, and Jack was listed as missing.
Captain Duckworth, his co-pilot, visited Jack’s wife, Sybil, and family, after he was liberated. He told them that Jack and he had bailed out and were captured by a German farmer. The farmer took them to his farm and set his wife to guard them while he looked for more airmen. About one in the afternoon the farmer’s wife permitted Jack and Captain Duckworth to escape. They immediately headed towards the Oder River in the hopes of making it to Poland and receiving help from the Polish underground. About six that afternoon they ran into a patrol of German soldiers who immediately pursued them, firing their rifles. Duckworth was finally captured since he was far behind Jack. The last time Duckworth saw him, Jack was running into a thick clump of underbrush. Two Germans were then chasing him. That was the last time anyone saw him alive.
The Graves Registration Service has been trying to locate Jack’s body. From captured reports it has been found that his body now is buried in a small cemetery in Langslieben, Silesia, Germany. At the request of his wife and family Jack will be moved to final rest in a military cemetery in an allied country.
To express the grief that we, his close friends, feel would be inadequate, however, a letter that his wife received from General Arnold expresses the feeling of us all:
“My dear Mrs. Lokker:
“With deepest regret I have learned that an official determination has been made of the death of your husband. Lieutenant Colonel Clarence John Lokker, who has been missing in action since November 20, 1944, in Europe.
“Word has reached me that Colonel Lokker, a graduate of the United States Military Academy, was a determined and self-reliant officer of upright character, whose passing is mourned by the many friends he made in the Army Air Forces. During his career as a pilot, he welcomed difficult assignments and won the approbation of superiors for the capable, energetic manner in which he performed these duties. He upheld the highest traditions of the service and showed that he was earnestly desirous of contributing his utmost to our cause.
“Your courageous husband was esteemed by those who knew him well.
I hope the knowledge of this and the memory that he served his country faithfully and well will afford you some consolation in your bereavement. My heartfelt sympathy is extended to you and other members of your family.
“H. H. Arnold
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Units served with
|Cosel, 01936 Schwepnitz, Germany||20 November 1944||Despite having a wing severed by a direct flak hit, Lokker was able to bail out. He was last seen being pursued by German soldiers as he tried to escape.|
|Holland, MI 49423, USA|
Graduated - Commissoned 2nd LT.
|West Point, NY, USA||United States Military Academy|
|Holland, MI 49423, USA||Pilgrim Home Cemetery Holland Ottawa County Michigan, USA Plot: PH1-KKM--10|