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Clifford Eugene Barker


Barker, a native of Yorktown, Ind., was a burly 6-foot-2 inch forward on the 1948 Kentucky team that finished the season with a 36-3 record, the national title and the nickname of the Fabulous Five. The other starters were Wallace (Wah Wah) Jones at forward, Kenny Rollins at guard and two all-Americans: Alex Groza at center and Ralph Beard at guard. Their coach was Adolph Rupp.

After that season, the Kentucky team played in the trials to select the United States team for the 1948 Olympics. In the final game of the trials, Kentucky lost by 4 points to the Phillips Oilers, a semiprofessional team. The five Kentucky starters joined Phillips players on the Olympic team and won the gold medal.

In 1949, Kentucky, with a 32-2 record, won the N.C.A.A. championship again. Then the team of Barker, Groza, Beard, Jones and Joe Holland turned professional and became the nucleus and part-owners of the Indianapolis Olympians of the N.B.A
Barker was older than his college teammates at Kentucky because he left school after his freshman year to serve in the Army Air Forces.

A gunner in a B-17 bomber, he was shot down over Germany and held as a prison of war there for 16 months. He filled idle time in prison camp by bouncing and passing a volleyball, the only ball he could find. When he returned to college, his ball-handling skills were remarkable.

"He had good hands, exceptional hand," his Kentucky teammate Rollins said. "His hands were very sensitive to the ball. And he was able to visualize things on the floor that other people couldn't see."

After his pro career, Barker taught and coached at high schools in Indiana, Kentucky and Florida. His last public appearance came Feb. 1 when the surviving members of the Fabulous Five (Groza died in 1995) were introduced before the Kentucky-Florida game.

Shot down during bombing mission over Brunswick, Germany 30 Jan 1944 in B-17G #42-37856 'Fancy Nancy III. ' Prisoner of War (POW).



  • Ronald Rohner

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Pilot | 401st Bomb Group
    Son of Walter and Arlene Rohner; brother of Kathleen. Enlisted in the US Army, National Guard, on March 3, 1941 at Camp Flint in Auburn, California. He was attending Placer Junior College at the time but withdrew when the Guard became an active part of...

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Units served with

  • 401st Bomb Group

    401st Bomb Group

    The 401st Bomb Group flew B-17 Flying Fortresses from Deenethorpe, Northamptonshire, from November 1943 to June 1945. Starting their missions at that time meant the focus was very much on the coming invasion attempt of France planned for the following...

  • 613th Bomb Squadron


  • 42-30855 "Ol' Massa"

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 10/8/43; Gr Isle 3/9/43; Assigned 613BS/401BG [IN-N] Deenethorpe 3/1/44; Missing in Action Berlin 8/5/44 with Dana Lenkelt, Co-pilot: Wendell Johnson, Bombardier: Harry Dershimer, Flight engineer/top turret gunner: Jesse Pack, Radio...

  • 42-31467 Sac Hound

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 4/11/43; Kearney 1/12/43; Romulus 9/12/43; Grenier 10/12/43; Presque Is 14/12/43; Assigned 613BS/401BG [IN-J] Deenethorpe 6/1/44. Missing in Action Frankfurt 2 March 1944 with William G. Sheahan, Co-pilot: Elliott B. Ogden, Navigator...

  • 42-31511 'Fools Luck III'

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Denver 16/11/43; Kearney 3/12/43; Presque Is 9/12/43; Assigned 612BS/401BG [SC-D] Deenethorpe 1/1/44; Missing in Action Evere A/fd 10/4/44 with Gaston Fox, Co-pilot: Francis Hoad, Navigator: Darrel Wilson, Bombardier: Leon Mendelson, Ball...

  • 42-37856 'Fancy Nancy III'

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Denver 21/9/43; Scott 7/10/43; Assigned 612BS/401BG [SC-B] Deenethorpe 23/12/43; Missing in Action Brunswick 30/1/44 with Ron Rohner, Navigator: Stan Johnson, Bombardier: Emil Smetana, Radio Operator: John Morreale, Ball turret gunner: Ken...


  • VIII Bomber Command 171

    31 December 1943
    This mission is the last heavy bomber operation of 1943. 1943 had been a very "tough" year for the 8th Air Force in the European Theater of Operations (ETO). 23365 B-17s had been despatched on missions and 881 had Failed to Return (FTR) for a loss...

  • 8th Air Force 176

    5 January 1944
    This mission consists of five elements: The first element is a combined force of 131 B-17s are despatched by 1st Bomb Division: 92BG; 303BG; 305BG; 306BG; 379BG; 384BG; and 482BG to bomb the shipyards and industrial areas of Kiel, Germany. 119 are...

  • VIII Bomber Command 191

    24 January 1944
    The primary target of this mission was the Zukunft power station at Eschweilier, Germany. The mision was composed of 563 bombers three elements from 1BD, 2BD and 3BD. The despatch from 2BD was recalled due to weather before it could take off. Mission...

  • 8th Air Force 198

    29 January 1944
    The primary target for this mission was the railroad marshalling yards and industrial areas of Frankfurt, Germany. A combined force of 863 heavy bombers were despatched in three elements to make the attack. The combined bomber gunner claims on enemy...

  • 8th Air Force 200

    30 January 1944
    This mission has the aviation industry at Brunswick, Germany as the primary target. The mission is composed of a combined force pf 777 heavy bomber aircraft despatched in three elements: 1st Bomb Division; 2nd Bomb Division and 3rd Bomb Division. The...

Associated Place

  • Deenethorpe

    Military site : airfield
    Deenethorpe was a base purpose-built for American heavy bombers, with the Class A regulation 2,000 and 1,400-yard runways. All the buildings on site,such as the accommodation and administrative blocks, were temporary. In December 1943, several local...

  • Stalag Luft IV

    Other location


Event Location Date
Born Yorktown, Indiana 15 January 1921
Shot Down/Captured Brunswick, Germany 30 January 1944

a/c shot down by Fw190 fighters.

POW Tychowo, Poland February 1944 – May 1945

Stalag Luft IV

NCAA National Championship New York, NY, USA 29 March 1948

Cliff Barker was a starter for the legendary Adolph Rupp and one of the "Fabulous Five" on the University of Kentucky's 1st National Championship team that defeated Baylor 58-42

Olympic Gold Medalist London, UK August 1948

Cliff Barker won an Olympic gold medal as part of the USA National basketball team in London, UK.

NCAA National Championship Seattle, WA, USA 26 March 1949

Cliff Barker was a senior starting forward for the University of Kentucky when they won their 2nd consecutive basketball National Championship defeating Oklahoma A&M 46-36

Graduated Lexington, KY, USA May 1949

University of Kentucky

Died Satsuma, FL 32189, USA 17 March 1998
Buried Yorktown, IN, USA 21 March 1998

Hawk Cemetery
Delaware County
Indiana, USA


Date Contributor Update
19 January 2020 21:52:37 jmoore43 Changes to awards

Added the award mentioned in the "Summary biography" section.

Date Contributor Update
19 January 2020 21:49:28 jmoore43 Changes to nickname

Added nickname "Possible DUPLICATE" so an admin can check out this person.

Date Contributor Update
12 September 2016 02:48:29 466thHistorian Changes to unit associations and place associations

Date Contributor Update
11 September 2016 02:12:04 466thHistorian Changes to events

Date Contributor Update
11 September 2016 02:10:47 466thHistorian Changes to events

Date Contributor Update
11 September 2016 01:58:55 466thHistorian Changes to middlename, service number, highest rank, role, biography, events, person associations, place associations, aircraft associations and mission associations

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:06:28 AAM AAM ingest

Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia / MACR 2276, 8th AF Losses,