Scroll of Honor – Cloudy Gray Conner, Jr.

The Purple Heart Battalion

Written by: Kelly Durham

Following Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, General Delos Emmons, the military governor of the Hawaii Territory, supported placing Japanese-Americans in internment camps and classifying them as enemy aliens.  But Emmons recognized that many among Hawaii’s Nisei, the American-born children of Japanese immigrants, wanted a chance to prove their loyalty to the United States through military service.  An effort was mounted to organize some 2,000 Japanese-American soldiers into a fighting force to be sent to Africa or Europe to fight the Germans and Italians, but the War Department initially turned down the request.  Then in June 1942, more than 1,400 Nisei serving in the Hawaii National Guard had their weapons confiscated and were ordered aboard a US Army transport ship bound for Oakland, California.  Upon arrival, the men were designated the 100th Infantry Battalion.  Given the social attitudes of the day, the Nisei of the 100th felt they had something to prove.

Cloudy Gray Conner, Jr. of Lamar was another soldier with something to prove.  Conner was a 1937 graduate of Clemson College who had posted an unremarkable record as a general science major.  According to one account, Conner had elected to forgo participation in ROTC as an upper classman because he was judged too short to qualify for an Army commission.  Following graduation, Conner married Anza Willeford of Florence.  He took a job teaching school and also worked as a railroad telegraph operator.  Despite his alleged lack of stature and his not pursuing a commission, Conner was called to active duty in October 1941.

The Benedictine Abbey atop Monte Cassino in February 1944.

Conner trained at Fort Jackson in Columbia, then at Camp Wheeler, Georgia and Camp Clay, Louisiana before being ordered overseas in September of 1943.  He was assigned to D Company of the 100th Infantry Battalion which was committed to action in Italy as part of the 34th Infantry Division.  The 34th was a veteran of the bitter fighting in North Africa.  By the winter of 1944, it was slugging away as part of General Mark Clark’s Fifth Army attempting to break through the heavily fortified Bernhardt Line of German positions in central Italy.  In harsh winter conditions, Clark’s forces were battling to capture Highway 6, the main route through the Liri Valley leading to Rome.  But Clark couldn’t control the valley or the highway without first wresting from the Germans key high ground: Monte Cassio. Dominating the heights was a Benedictine monastery with structures dating back to the Sixth Century.  To knock the Germans off of Monte Cassino, Clark called on the 34th Infantry Division, including the 100th Infantry Battalion.

On January 30, the 34th managed to cross the north-south running Rapido River and seize ground north of Cassino. prompting Clark to predict that Cassio would fall “very soon.”  But the uphill fighting, in snow and freezing weather, crept forward.  During the first two weeks in February, the division made repeated attempts to dislodge the Germans from Monte Cassino.  Historian Rick Atkinson writes that “Hills were won then lost, then won and lost again,” as the fighting raged back and forth.  “Each yard, whether won or lost pared away American strength.”

Despite coming within “100 meters of success,” the 34th eventually spent its strength.  On February 12,  Lieutenant Conner was killed by a sniper’s bullet to the head.  The 34th was relieved by a British Indian division the following day.  Casualties among the men of the 100th were so high—one forty-man platoon was down to just five soldiers—that reporters dubbed the 100th the “Purple Heart Battalion.”  The Nisei had indeed proved something: their commitment to the United States and to the freedom even then being denied to many of their family members in stateside internment camps.  And Cloudy Grey Conner had proved his ability as a combat officer leading loyal Americans in battle.

Lieutenant Conner, like so many others in his battalion, was awarded the Purple Heart.  He was survived by his wife, his mother, a sister, and a brother.  After the war, his body was returned to Lamar and buried in the Baptist Church Cemetery.

For more information on Cloudy Grey Conner, Jr. see:

https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/scroll/cloudy-gray-conner-jr/

For additional information on Clemson University’s Scroll of Honor visit:

https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/

See also Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944 by Rick Atkinson, 2007.

 

Scroll of Honor – John Calhoun Hubbard, Jr.

Takeoff

Written by: Kelly DurhamJohn Calhoun Hubbard, Jr.

The missions flown by the heavy bombers of the 8th Air Force were fraught with dangers.  Mechanical failures and equipment malfunctions were always a hazard at the high altitudes at which missions were flown.  The Germans were an even greater threat with swift, swarming fighter planes and deadly antiaircraft artillery.  But sometimes, the most dangerous part of the mission was simply getting off the ground.

John Calhoun Hubbard, Jr. of Bennettsville enrolled at Clemson College as a member of the Class of 1939.  After his freshman year on campus, Hubbard left school and took over the Nehi Bottling Plant in his hometown.  Over the following years, Hubbard joined the Junior Chamber of Commerce and the Woodmen of the World.  He was a member of the Methodist Church and was building a reputation as one of Bennettsville’s outstanding young businessmen.  Hubbard was also interested in flying.  In his free time, he took flying lessons with a local instructor.

Just two months after Pearl Harbor, Hubbard entered the Army as a private.  He qualified for and completed officer candidate school and was commissioned as a second lieutenant.  With his flying experience, he applied for and was accepted into flight training at Maxwell Field in Alabama.  He graduated to advanced flight training at George Field, Illinois where he earned his pilot’s wings.  From there he was ordered to Arkansas where he served as a flight instructor for several months.  He was then sent to Texas, Ohio, Nebraska, and Louisiana for additional training.

Bomber from the 388th Bomb SquadronHubbard was soon ordered back to Nebraska where he received additional training in combat flying in preparation for deployment to Europe.  In December 1944, Hubbard arrived in England as a pilot assigned to the 388th Bomb Squadron, an 8th Air Force unit stationed at Snetterton Heath in the southeastern part of the country.

The 388th, like the rest of the 8th Air Force, was fighting an aerial war not only against the Germans but also against what Masters of the Air author Donald Miller calls “one of the most capricious weather systems in the world.”  Fog and clouds often extended from ground level up to 20,000 feet or more.  Low clouds meant that pilots had to fly blind—using only their flight instruments—to navigate to a clear altitude and join their assigned formations.

By the time Second Lieutenant Hubbard began flying combat missions, the 8th was regularly launching operations composed of hundreds of heavy bombers.  With nearly a hundred 8th and 9th Air Force bases concentrated in southeastern England, and with bombers taking off every thirty seconds from the area’s many runways, the takeoff and climb into formation could be as dangerous as the flight across the English Channel and over German-occupied Europe.

On January 29, 1945, the 8th Air Force launched 1,158 bombers toward industrial targets in Germany.  In addition, 700 fighters were dispatched to escort the bombers.  This vast armada filled the airspace above East Anglia.  That morning, Hubbard was the copilot of a 388th B-17 piloted by Second Lieutenant Alex Philipovich. As their aircraft climbed into the murky sky, it collided with another B-17 from its sister squadron the 337th.  Both aircraft were destroyed and their crews killed. On that day, the 8th recorded seventeen non-combatJohn Hubbard grave stone accidents, including eight takeoff accidents.  Mercifully, not all of them were fatal.

John Calhoun Hubbard, Jr. was survived by his parents, his wife, and their daughter.  After the war, his remains were returned to Bennettsville and interred in McCall Cemetery.

For more information on Second Lieutenant John Calhoun Hubbard, Jr. see:

https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/scroll/john-calhoun-hubbard-jr/

For additional information about Clemson University’s Scroll of Honor visit:

https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/

See also Masters of the Air: America’s Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War Against Nazi Germany by Donald L. Miller.

Scroll of Honor – Guy Benjamin Taylor

Navy Doctor

Written by: Kelly Durham

Guy Benjamin Taylor of Lexington entered Clemson in 1912.  Upon completion of his junior year in the spring of 1915, Taylor enrolled at the Medical College of South Carolina.  His graduation with a medical degree coincided with the United States’ declaration of war on Germany in April 1917.  Taylor immediately reported for active duty as a Navy lieutenant (junior grade).

The new Navy doctor was soon sent to France and England where he tended to wounded and sick soldiers.  With the end of the war in November 1918, the Army began to send its troops home.  The tight confines aboard troop ships ensured that the soldiers weren’t the only passengers.  Along for the voyage was the Spanish Influenza.  The first wave of the deadly flu had appeared in early 1918.  Now, assisted by the return of soldiers to points all across the United States, a more deadly second wave was poised to break.

Corpsmen await patients at a Navy influenza ward in December 1918.

Lieutenant Taylor reached the United States at the beginning of December and was assigned to the Long Island Naval Hospital in Brooklyn, New York.  Soon, the hospital was filling with flu patients.  The first wave of the pandemic had resembled typical flu epidemics of the past, with the sick and elderly at the greatest risk.  This second wave broke from the usual pattern.  Now, twenty to forty-year-olds—which included most of the returning soldiers—experienced high mortality rates even among otherwise healthy people.

Like 2020’s Covid-19, the Spanish Flu was highly contagious, spreading easily from person to person through coughs and sneezing.  Even mild cases of the flu could severely weaken the body’s immune system.  The flu constricted and inflamed the body’s airways, slowing down the movement of air and reducing the body’s ability to clear mucus.  With more mucus in the body, bacteria was more likely to form.  The combination of a weakened immune system and the buildup of virus and bacteria often led to pneumonia, an inflammation of the lungs leading to high fever and difficulty breathing.

With no vaccines available, officials attempted to limit the spread of the flu through non-pharmaceutical interventions like isolation, quarantine, good personal hygiene, and reduced public gatherings, but these interventions were unevenly applied.  Lieutenant Taylor, surrounded by sick patients, contracted the flu himself.  Falling into one of the more susceptible demographic groups and without antibiotics with which to treat his infection, Taylor’s flu soon advanced to pneumonia, from which he died on January 23, 1919.

Dr. Taylor was described as “a young man of strong character, striking personality, and unusual ability with a bright future before him.”  Instead of that “bright future,” Taylor became one of the estimated 300,000 Americans who died from the Spanish Flu between September 1918 and January 1919.

Dr. Taylor was survived by his father and was buried at the Shiloh Methodist Church in Lexington.

For more information on Lieutenant Guy Benjamin Taylor see:

https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/scroll/guy-benjamin-taylor/

For additional information about Clemson University’s Scroll of Honor visit:

https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/

 

 

 

 

Scroll of Honor – Francis Marion Zeigler

Namesake

Written by: Kelly Durham

Like his namesake, the legendary Swamp Fox of Revolutionary War fame, Francis Marion Zeigler of Denmark seemed destined for renown as a warrior.  As a cadet, Zeigler was quickly recognized as a leader, being elected vice president of both his freshman and sophomore classes.  He also served as vice president of the YMCA, and as secretary and treasurer of the Clemson chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.  In Clemson’s cadet regiment, Zeigler advanced through the ranks each year, starting out as a private, promoted to corporal as a sophomore, sergeant major as a junior, and cadet captain as a senior.

Zeigler was also a fine athlete.  He was a member of the football team where he played fullback “as very few men have played it,” Taps reported.  “Zeigler is an earnest worker at all times; he plunges the line, tackles hard, and is always a fighter.”  In addition to football, Zeigler was a member of the Tiger track team which he served as captain.  In 1921, he set the Clemson record for 880 yards at 2 minutes, 3 and 3/5 seconds.  He contributed to the school’s mile relay record as well, 3 minutes, 34 and 3/5 seconds.  His athletic prowess earned him membership in the Block “C” Club which he served as president.

Zeigler’s classmates observed his “individuality, sincerity, and fineness of purpose” and elected him as president of the Class of 1923, an august group that included a future governor and US senator as well as a world famous journalist and author.  Taps wrote that Zeigler had “been recognized as a leader among us, and has tackled every problem set before him in his quiet honest way.”

In 1927, Zeigler joined the Army and displayed the same level of commitment to military service that he had shown at Clemson.  Zeigler was attracted to the field of aviation and earned his pilot’s wings.  Over a career that included assignments in the Philippines and China, Zeigler accumulated 2,900 flying hours, making him one of the Army’s more experienced flyers.  While stationed at the Army Air Depot in Fairfield, Ohio, Zeigler was tasked with planning and organizing the new Warner Robbins Army Air Depot in Georgia.  In the fall of 1942, with the United States embroiled in a global war, the forty-year-old colonel was assigned as executive officer at the new air base.

On Wednesday, December 2, 1942, Zeigler was the pilot of an Army A-20 Havoc medium bomber on a transition training flight.  His copilot was Arvil Copeland, the assistant general manager of the depot’s aircraft repair shop.  At approximately 1550 hours, Zeigler took off  to the west.  Upon reaching an altitude of twenty to thirty feet, the aircraft leveled off and then nosed down into a flat dive, striking a road about 150 feet from the end of the runway.  The impact sheared off the landing gear and the faring of the right engine’s nacelle.  The A-20 bounced into the air and appeared to continue straight ahead while climbing to about 200 feet.  Zeigler attempted to make a wide turn to the left to return to the field, but witnesses reported that the airplane was flying in an “extremely tail low position and gradually losing altitude.”  Faced with a deteriorating situation, Zeigler elected to land in a small field about two miles southwest of the runway.  The plane hit the ground on its belly, the force of the impact flipping it onto its back and causing “total damage.”  Both Zeigler and Copeland were seriously injured.  Copeland died four days later on Sunday, December 6.  Zeigler passed away the following Wednesday, December 9.

Colonel Francis Marion Zeigler was survived by his mother, his wife, the former Mildred Van Ausdel, a son, a step-daughter, four brothers, and four sisters.  He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

For more information on Francis Marion Zeigler see:

https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/scroll/francis-marion-zeigler/

For additional information about Clemson University’s Scroll of Honor visit:

https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/

 

 

 

Scroll of Honor – Richards Daniel Van Allen

Take the High Ground

Written by: Kelly DurhamRichards Van Allen

Richards Daniel Van Allen reported for active duty with the United States Army in March 1942.  He attended basic training at Camp Claiborne, Louisiana and then was ordered to officer candidate school at Fort Benning, Georgia where he was commissioned as a second lieutenant on October 16, 1942.  The newly minted lieutenant was assigned to the newly activated 100th Infantry Division then organizing at Fort Jackson.  This wasn’t the first occasion for Van Allen to wear a uniform in the Palmetto State.

Van Allen, from Savannah, Georgia, had attended Clemson College during the 1933-34 school year.  A textile chemistry major, he was assigned to the 2nd Platoon of Company M, 3rd Battalion of the Cadet Regiment.  After leaving Clemson, Van Allen returned to Savannah and took a job with Turpentine and Rosin Factors, Inc.  He married the former Dorothy Austin and they established their home in Savannah.

As American military mobilization accelerated in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, Van Allen became the executive officer of K Company, 3rd Battalion, 399th Infantry Regiment of the 100th Infantry Division.  The division trained stateside for its planned deployment overseas, participating in maneuvers in the Tennessee mountains before traveling to Fort Bragg, North Carolina for further training.

The 100th sailed for Europe on October 6, 1944, completing its two week voyage at the southern France port of Marseille.  Attached to Seventh Army, the 100th moved into the front line on November 2 with Van Allen’s 399th Infantry Regiment relieving elements of the 45th Infantry Division.  3rd Battalion occupied positions about two miles southeast of St. Remy, France.

German troops on high ground overlooking St. Remy fired heavy machine guns and mortars at American forces impeding their forward movement.  A spell of rainy weather further hindered the American advance.  Any American troop movements were inevitably answered by German mortar fire.  The regiment was pulled off the line on November 9, but the rest period lasted only a couple of days.  On November 12, the 399th was back on the offensive, seeking to seize high ground from the Germans to allow for greater freedom of movement.

On November 19, the weather cleared and a warm sun shone down on the soldiers of the 399th.  The following day, Van Allen’s K Company attacked Hill 467 supported by a platoon of tanks. While advancing against fierce resistance to destroy enemy heavy machine gun emplacements, the tank platoon leader was killed and the tanks began to withdraw.  Lieutenant Van Allen reorganized the tankers and sent them back into action to support his company’s infantrymen.  With the foot soldiers and tanks working together, Hill 467 was secured, but Van Allen was mortally wounded by enemy mortar fire.  He died the following day in an Army hospital at Neuf Maisons, France.

Richards Van Allen grave stoneFirst Lieutenant Richards Daniel Van Allen was awarded the Silver Star and the Purple Heart.  He was survived by his mother, his wife Dorothy, and a daughter, Richards Dorothy Van Allen who was born after his untimely death.  Van Allen is buried at Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah.

For more information about First Lieutenant Richards Daniel Van Allen see:

https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/scroll/richards-daniel-van-allen/

For additional information about Clemson University’s Scroll of Honor visit:

https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/

 

 

Scroll of Honor – Robert Earle Agnew

Storm Clouds

Written by: Kelly Durham

When Robert Earle Agnew arrived on the Clemson campus in 1937, the storm clouds of war were gathering.  In China tensions with Japan erupted into full scale war that summer.  In Europe, the German invasion of Poland in the fall of Agnew’s senior year precipitated yet another continental crisis.  By the time of his graduation with the Class of 1940, France was effectively out of the war and the British were retreating to their home island.  Agnew was one American who understood that those storm clouds in Asia and Europe were likely to continue to spread until they eventually reached the United States.

Agnew came to Clemson from Donalds, the small Abbeville County community of less than three hundred souls.  At Clemson, he studied mechanical engineering and was a member of the track team, the Greenwood Club, and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.  During his senior year, Agnew participated in the Civilian Pilot Training Program [CPTP], a government sponsored flight training program attempting to increase the number of civilian pilots as a potential pool from which to draw military fliers if needed.  Agnew was the first of the Clemson participants to solo.  He also completed ROTC training at Camp McClellan, Alabama preparing Agnew for a commission in the Army.

Following graduation, Agnew reported for Army basic training.  Given his CPTP experience, Agnew was accepted into Army Air Force flight training and sent to Randolph Field at San Antonio, Texas.  His training continued at Kelly Field, also in San Antonio, where he earned his pilot’s wings in March 1941.  In a sign of the times, the new pilot was assigned as a flight instructor and ordered to Moffett Field outside of San Jose, California.  Agnew was delighted with his assignment, writing to his parents, “If I should die in a plane crash, I will die happy; everything will be all right.”

Of course, Agnew wasn’t the only observer of the gathering storm.  In Washington, officials of the Roosevelt administration were scrambling to catch up with Germany’s fearsome Luftwaffe, then regarded as the most powerful air force in the world.  On October 23, 1941, Secretary of War Henry Stimson announced plans to double the nation’s fleet of first-line combat aircraft.  Noting that the increase in strength was needed to meet the “growing requirements” for adequate defense of the Western Hemisphere, Stimson explained that the Army Air Force would extend its growth plans from fifty-four combat groups to eighty-four. In the process, the number of pilots trained annually would increase from 12,000 to 30,000.

Those pilots would advance through three phases of flight training.  After primary flight training in simple aircraft, phase two pilots moved into more complex trainers like the BT-13 Vultee.  It was equipped with a more powerful engine, was faster and heavier than the primary aircraft, and required student pilots to manage more in-flight tasks, such as the use of flaps and a controllable-pitch propeller.

On the morning of November 3, 1941, Agnew and crew member Dan Fisk departed Stockton, California  in a BT-13 Vultee bound for their home field at Moffett.   The airplane never arrived.  Army investigators hypothesized that Agnew was descending through or attempting to fly below storm clouds when his aircraft crashed into the side of  a hill at an altitude of only 1,900 feet.  Both Agnew and Fisk were killed.

Agnew would not be the last Army pilot to perish before reaching a combat zone.  Training accidents would continue to plague the Army Air Force as it raced to meet the demands of an increasingly fragile peace and then outright war.

Robert Earle Agnew was survived by his parents and was buried in the Turkey Creek Baptist Church cemetery in Ware Shoals.

For more information on Second Lieutenant Robert Earle Agnew see:

https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/scroll/robert-earle-agnew/

For more information about Clemson University’s Scroll of Honor visit:

https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/

 

Scroll of Honor – Henry Alexander Coleman

The Global Pandemic

Written by: Kelly Durham

From early 1918 to mid-1920, the Spanish Flu epidemic raged across the world, infecting 500 million people and causing an estimated 50 million deaths.  The pandemic coincided with the final months of the First World War.  The close living conditions of soldiers, both at the front and in training garrisons, fueled the spread of the disease.

Henry Alexander “Hal” Coleman came to Clemson from the Fairfield County rail stop of Shelton when the campus was still in its infancy.  He likely arrived in the late summer of 1910 and was a member of the Class of 1914.

When the United States went to war in the spring of 1917, Coleman went too.  He was an Army private first class assigned to Company C of the 306th Field Signal Battalion of the 81st Infantry Division.

The 81st Infantry Division, the “Wildcats,” was organized at Camp Jackson outside of Columbia in August 1917.  The division took its nickname—and its unit patch—from Wildcat Creek which ran through its training area.  The division’s soldiers were mostly draftees from the southeastern states and they became the first division in the United States Army to wear a distinctive unit shoulder patch on their uniforms.

The division sailed for France in August 1918 and by early October, was defending a sector around St. Dié.  Coleman, remembered as someone with a happy, optimistic disposition, was assigned as a switchboard operator, connecting calls between field phones linked by wires running through the trenches and dugouts scarring the battlefront.  His switchboard was located in a muddy, dank, subterranean dugout.  These conditions, combined with physical fatigue, probably contributed to a weakening of Coleman’s physical strength resulting in the contraction of an illness.  Even so, Coleman remained at his post, continuing to facilitate the critical command and control functions between the various units of the division.

Eventually, Coleman’s illness reached the point where he could no longer effectively discharge his duties and he was evacuated to a hospital near Baccarat, France.  His condition developed into pneumonia and he died on October 20, 1918, less than a month before the armistice that would end the war.

The end of the war did not mean the end of the dying.  Soldiers returning from overseas were packed into close quarters aboard troop ships.  As they were mustered out of the service, the soldiers returned home to all corners of the country, carrying the flu virus with them.  More than 675,000 Americans would die from the Spanish Flu, a ratio that would equate to about 2.15 million in terms of today’s population.  Clemson’s Scroll of Honor includes thirty-four heroes who died during the First World War.  Of these, thirteen succumbed to pneumonia.

Henry Alexander Coleman was buried at the Meuse-Argonne American Military Cemetery in France.  There is also a marker placed in his memory at Antioch Cemetery in Fairfield County.

 

 

For additional information about Henry Alexander Coleman see:
https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/scroll/henry-alexander-coleman/

For more information about Clemson University’s Scroll of Honor visit:
https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/

Scroll of Honor – John Hetrick

From Civic Leader to Service Member

Written by: Kelly Durham

John Paterson Hetrick made his way to the Foothills of South Carolina from his hometown of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to study civil engineering.  He entered Clemson College in the last years of the Roaring ‘20s and would graduate in the early years of the Great Depression as a member of the Class of 1932.

Hetrick was active in campus life demonstrating military proficiency and academic prowess.  He was a member of the Society of Civil Engineers and the Glee Club, which he served first as business manager and then as president.  He marched with the Drum and Bugle Corps and was a member of both the Sabre Club and the First Sergeants’ Club.  He attended ROTC summer training at Camp McClellan, Alabama between his junior and senior years and was selected to serve as the Regimental Staff intelligence officer as a senior.

After graduation, Hetrick married Marjorie Shealy of Anderson.  The couple made their home in Easley where Hetrick worked with the Rogers-Hetrick Lumber Company and served as a deacon in the First Baptist Church.  Considered one of the community’s business and civic leaders, Hetrick and his wife raised two children, a son and a daughter.

Following the United States’ entry into World War II, Hetrick was called to active duty and ordered to Camp Davis, North Carolina.  Camp Davis had been constructed in late 1940 as the country began its belated mobilization for the conflict many feared was approaching.  Located near Holly Ridge in the coastal southeastern part of the state, it was a 45,000 acre antiaircraft artillery training facility which eventually grew to include two paved runways.  Women Airforce Service Pilots, or WASPs, used the runways to tow aerial targets aloft for Army antiaircraft gunners to perfect their marksmanship.

In mid-autumn of 1943, Hetrick was admitted to the post hospital for treatment of symptoms diagnosed as a cold.  On October 2, during his brief hospital stay, Hetrick died from an acute heart attack. He died two days short of his thirty-sixth birthday,

First Lieutenant Hetrick was survived by his wife and children, his parents, and two sisters.  He was buried at Springbrook Cemetery in Anderson.

For additional information on First Lieutenant John Paterson Hetrick see:
https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/scroll/john-patterson-hetrick/

For more information on Clemson University’s Scroll of Honor visit:
https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scroll of Honor – Lester Miller

Trained for War

Written by: Kelly Durham

Lester Laneau “Pete” Miller was born in the Dillon County community of Hamer.  He attended public schools in Dillon and entered Clemson in 1935.  A vocational agricultural education major, he participated in 4-H, the Grange, and Future Farmers of America.  He reached the cadet rank of second lieutenant and was assigned to Senior Company Number 2.  After graduating with the Class of 1939, Miller returned to Dillon and took a job teaching at Centenary High School.

On February 11, 1942, Miller was called to active duty. He trained first at Fort Benning, Georgia and was then assigned to the 314th Infantry Regiment of the 79th Infantry Division. The 79th was a Selective Service division composed of men called up by the draft.  Miller’s training as a member of the 79th is instructive.  The division was activated at Camp Pickett, Virginia in June 1942 and subsequently trained at Camp Blanding, Florida and then at Forrest, Tennessee.  The division was next ordered to the Desert Training Center in Arizona and later continued its training at Camp Phillips near Salina, Kansas.  The division sailed from New York in April 1944 and completed its training in England.  It crossed the English Channel and landed on Utah Beach, entering combat on June 19.  While the 79th’s twenty-four months of training compared most favorably with the eleven months this same division had to prepare for battle in World War I, its training period for this new conflict was well below average.  According to War Department figures reported by the Washington Post in July 1944, the average American division in World War II had trained for thirty-one months prior to its commitment to combat.

The reduced level of training received by the 79th didn’t seem to impact its combat effectiveness. A week after its commitment, the division entered the key French port of Cherbourg.  It held a defensive position in early July before capturing LaHaye du Puits on July 8th.  This battle pitted the infantry against German tank units in brutal fighting that cost the division more than one thousand casualties.  On July 26th, the division attacked across the Ay River and took Lessay.  It crossed the Sarthe River and entered Le Mans on August 8th.  The division continued to advance as German resistance began to weaken, crossing the Seine River on August 19th and the Therain River on the 31st.

As the Germans fell back, the 79th reached the Belgian frontier and captured Charmes in heavy street fighting on September 12.  On September 22, First Lieutenant Miller was killed in action.

Lieutenant Miller was awarded the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.  He was survived by his parents, one brother then serving in the Army, and three sisters, one of whom was serving in the WAVES, the Navy’s auxiliary branch for women volunteers.  Lieutenant Miller was buried at the military cemetery in Andilly, France.  In 1948, his remains were returned to the United States and were reburied at the Riverside Cemetery in Dillon.

For more information on First Lieutenant Lester Laneau Miller see:

https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/scroll/lester-laneau-miller/

For additional information on Clemson University’s Scroll of Honor visit:

https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scroll of Honor – Henry Hahn

Tank Commander

Written by: Kelly Durham

HT HahnIn September 1944, Allied forces in France were attacking across a broad front, slowly pushing stubborn German defenders back across France toward the Rhine River and the German border.  Second Lieutenant Henry Tutt Hahn was a tank commander in the 7th Armored Division of General George Patton’s Third Army as it battled to cross the Moselle River, the last major water barrier before reaching the Rhine. 

 Hahn came to Clemson as a textile engineering major from Greenwood.  He was a member of the Greenwood County Club, which he served as president his senior year, and also Phi Psi, the national honor fraternity for textile engineers.  Hahn graduated from Clemson in May 1943.  His was the last class allowed to complete its collegiate course before being called to active duty to help meet the military’s wartime manpower needs. 

 In August, Hahn reported for active duty, training as an armor officer at Fort Knox, Kentucky.  Following his training, he served as an instructor at the post before being transferred to Fort Benning, Georgia and assigned to the 31st Tank Battalion, part of the 7th Armored Division. 

 Hahn’s division reached France in mid-August 1944, coming ashore across Omaha and Utah beaches.  Thetank division was quickly committed to the battle, driving on the city of Chartres on August 18. From Chartres, the division advanced to liberate Dreux and then Melun, where it crossed the Seine River on August 24. The division continued its advance to places well-remembered from the First World War, Château-Thierry and Verdun, liberating these storied towns on August 31.  After a brief halt for maintenance and refueling, the 7th Armored resumed its offensive on September 6, crossing the Moselle River near Dornot.  Coordinated fire from German fortified positions around Metz forced the division to withdraw.  It moved slightly south of the city and assisted the 5th Infantry Division in expanding a bridgehead across the river east of Arnaville.  Second Lieutenant Hahn was killed in action on September 14 within half a mile of the bridgehead. 

Grave markerHahn was survived by his mother, whom he had visited on Mothers’ Day before shipping overseas. He was also survived by three brothers, one of who was serving on Guam.  Following the war, Hahn’s remains were returned to the United States and he was laid to rest in Aiken’s Bethany Cemetery. 

 For more information about Henry Tutt Hahn see:
https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/scroll/henry-tutt-hahn-tut/  

 

 

For additional information about Clemson University’s Scroll of Honor visit:
https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scroll of Honor – Pugh Rogers

Occupation Relocation

Written by: Kelly Durham

The war was over and it seemed as though much of the world was migrating.  Civilians chased from their former homes by authoritarian regimes or flushed by the violence of combat were clogging European roads, searching for some place better to restart their lives.  It wasn’t only civilians on the move.  Military units from the victorious Allies were relocating to new duty stations from which to carry out peacetime missions that had more to do with rebuilding than retribution.  The 495th Bomb Squadron was one of these organizations and one of its members was Pugh Geddings Rogers, Clemson Class of 1933.

The 495th was activated in late 1942 as a replacement training unit.  A year later, it was reorganized as an operational squadron and deployed to Europe as part of the IX Bomber Command.  From its bases in England, the medium bombers of the 495th attacked enemy tactical targets in occupied Europe.  After D-Day, the 495th moved to the continent, establishing new bases in France and Belgium.  The squadron often attacked enemy airfields to disrupt Luftwaffe fighter defenses against 8th Air Force heavy bomber formations flying to and from strategic targets in Germany.

Pugh Rogers studied engineering at Clemson beginning in 1928.  He left school after three years, but his engineering background helped prepare him for his wartime duties.  Pugh was an Army Air Force master sergeant and crew chief.  It was his job to supervise and lead a team of mechanics, armorers, technicians, and fuelers who often worked through the night to keep one of the squadron’s B-26 Martin bombers flying.

The end of combat operations meant a new role for the 495th and a new duty station.  The 495th was designated to serve as part of the US occupation forces in Germany.  In early September 1945, Rogers wrote that his squadron was packed and ready to move its base of operations from Florennes, Belgium to an airfield outside of Munich, Germany.

On September 10, Rogers climbed into a B-26 Martin medium bomber for the two hour flight to Schleissheim, on the northern outskirts of Munich.  The aircraft, piloted by Captain Jerald Davies, was part of a multi-ship formation. In addition to three other crewmembers, the flight carried six passengers on their way to their new post.

Enroute from Florennes, Davies’s bomber became separated from the rest of the formation.  Davies apparently lost his bearings and strayed to the southwest of Munich—and into the Bavarian Alps.  All ten aboard the airplane were killed when it crashed into a mountain near Trauchgau, Germany, some fifty miles from its intended destination.

Master Sergeant Pugh Geddings Rogers was survived by his stepmother, two sisters, and one brother.  In his last letter, Rogers wrote that he expected to return home a few weeks after the move to Munich.

Rogers was awarded the Bronze Star.  He is buried in the Lorraine American Military Cemetery.

For more information on Pugh Geddings Rogers see:

https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/scroll/pugh-geddings-rogers/

For additional information about Clemson University’s Scroll of Honor visit:

https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/

 

 

 

Scroll of Honor – Kevin N. Earnest

Presidential Mission

Written by: Kelly DurhamCaptain Kevin Earnest

Shortly before a scheduled mission to the western United States, Air Force Captain Kevin N. Earnest and his wife Carol dropped by Summerville to visit his college roommate Robbie Albertson, his wife Pam, and their one-year-old son Brett.  Kevin presented little Brett with a stuffed bear, which was quickly christened “Boo.”  That seemed appropriate as Kevin’s Air Force call sign was “Boo-Boo.”  That was the last visit the two families would share.

For his summer vacation in 1996, President Bill Clinton traveled to Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  From there, the president was scheduled to fly to New York for a fiftieth birthday party.  Whenever the president travels, his Secret Service detail, their equipment, and security vehicles go along.  Moving the Secret Service’s vehicles from one destination to the next is the mission of the Air Force’s Air Mobility Command.  Kevin N. Earnest, Clemson Class of 1988, was the pilot of an Air Mobility Command C-130 aircraft supporting the presidential trip.

Earnest was a mechanical engineering major from Kingsport, Tennessee.  An Eagle Scout, he had served as student body president of his high school and had earned his pilot’s certificate while still a student there.  At Clemson, Earnest continued his record of achievement.  He was an Air Force ROTC cadet earning the commission of a second lieutenant.  He served as president of the Student Alumni Council and was selected for membership in Tiger Brotherhood, Blue Key, and Mortar Board.

By the summer of 1996, Captain Earnest was assigned to Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene, Texas.  On Saturday, August 17, Earnest and his crew of seven other Air Force personnel, were dispatched to Jackson Hole Airport to load one of the presidential security vehicles into their C-130 Hercules transport aircraft and deliver it to New York City, the president’s next scheduled stop. Jackson Hole’s is the only airport located wholly inside a national park.  It rests on a plateau near the base of the spectacular Tetons mountain range, the peaks of which rise to heights of more than 13,700 feet.

Earnest’s aircraft took off at about 10:45 pm.  Approximately three minutes into the flight, fifteen miles southeast of the airport, the C-130 slammed into the side of Sheep Mountain, 1,000 feet below the peak’s 11,300-foot summit.  The airplane exploded in a fireball seen twenty miles away at Teton Village resort community.  Earnest, his crew mates, and a Secret Service agent were killed.  Searchers were able to reach the crash site only on foot or by horseback.  The force of the impact and resulting explosion demolished the large airplane.  The Air Force would subsequently attribute the accident to the crew’s failure “to monitor the aircraft’s position and flight path relative to high terrain surrounding the Jackson Hole Airport.”

In the fall of 1997, three of Kevin Earnest’s friends established the Captain Kevin N. Earnest Leadership Award to be presented annually to a rising Clemson Air Force ROTC senior cadet who demonstrates outstanding leadership in the program and within other student organizations.

Captain Earnest and the other victims of the crash are memorialized on a plaque near Sheep Mountain, Wyoming.  Brett Albertson, earned a civil engineering degree from The Citadel in 2017 and a master’s degree from Clemson in 2022.  Now an Air Force captain himself, this summer Brett trekked to the crash site to remember and honor the sacrifice of his family’s friend.  And Boo, the stuffed bear, though showing his age, continues to reside with Brett’s mother Pam.

For more information about Kevin N. Earnest see:

https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/scroll/kevin-n-earnest/

For additional information about Clemson University’s Scroll of Honor visit:

https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/

 

 

 

 

 

Scroll of Honor – William Daniel Rowland

Tinian

Written by: Kelly DurhamWilliam Daniel Worthy

The fifteen islands of the Mariana archipelago include Guam, Saipan, and Tinian.  They lie in the North Pacific Ocean 1,500 miles south-southeast of Japan, 3,700 miles west-southwest of Hawaii, 1,400 miles north of New Guinea, and 1,600 miles east of the Philippines.  In 1944, this location made the Marianas, according to historian James Hornfischer,  “the most strategically valuable pieces of military real estate in the world.”  In June and July of that year, the Marianas would become the focus of Admiral Chester Nimitz’s Central Pacific offensive.  The conquest of Saipan, Tinian, and Guam would determine the course of the war in the Pacific.  William Daniel Rowland, a member of Clemson’s Class of 1946, would be one of the men fighting to liberate the Marianas from the Japanese.

Rowland came to Clemson from the small west Texas town of Alpine.  He completed his first semester, but as the United States continued to mobilize for war, Rowland left Clemson in January 1943 and enlisted in the Marine Corps.

The Marine Corps was quickly developing a reputation as America’s amphibious warfare force, but it was a reputation earned with the blood and sacrifice of its members.  Attacking a land objective from the sea had long been considered the most difficult of military operations and the Marines had refined their doctrine, tactics, and equipment in campaigns on Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands, Tarawa in the Gilbert Islands, and Kwajalein and Eniwetok in the Marshall Islands.

In March 1944, the Joint Chiefs of Staff directed the seizure of the Mariana Islands as the next step in the building momentum of the Central Pacific assault on Japan.  One of the major units to be involved in the ground offensive was the 4th Marine Division then training at Maui, Hawaii.  Private First Class Rowland was assigned to the 4th, which had been formed only a year earlier but had already experienced combat in the battle to seize Kwajalein.  With the Joint Chiefs directive, the 4th Marine Division’s pace of training intensified with amphibious exercises at Kahului on Maui’s north coast.

Operation FORAGER, the invasion of the Marianas, would present new challenges for the Marines and Army forces making the landings.  The islands were much larger than the small coral atolls previously conquered and the islands included a sizeable civilian population that would be caught between the defending Japanese and attacking Americans.  The islands also lay within what Japan considered its “inner defensive perimeter.”

On June 15, Rowland’s 4th Marine Division landed on Saipan.  In bitter fighting, the island was subdued by July 9.  The fall of Saipan reverberated across the Pacific all the way to Tokyo.  The loss of this strategically placed island caused the fall of the Japanese cabinet headed by Prime Minister Hideki Tojo, who, with this defeat, no longer enjoyed the confidence of Emperor Hirohito.

North Field, Tinian in 1945.
Photo: National World War II Museum

Despite the change in Japanese leadership, there was no pause in the American offensive.  At 0740 hours on July 24, two regiments of the 4th Marine Division landed on White Beach 1 and 2 on the northwest coast of Tinian.  Once again, the outgunned Japanese ferociously defended the island, but just before seven p. m. on August 1, General Schmidt, commanding the Marine forces ashore, declared the island “secure.”  According to Hornfischer, “the mop-up phase was little less dangerous than the assault.”  Roving groups of Japanese survivors of the battle continued to make pointless attacks that contributed nothing to the outcome of the war save additional casualties on both sides.  One of these was William Daniel Rowland who was killed in action on August 5.

Before the smoke of battle cleared, Army aviation engineers were already at work turning Tinian into the largest air base in the world.  Almost half of the island’s thirty-nine square miles would be paved to accommodate the new super heavy B-29 bombers and escorting fighters which would soon begin the horrific fire-bombing campaigns against Japanese cities.  Among the Army Air Force units moving into Tinian was “a mysterious and secretive B-29 unit whose compound was double-fenced and patrolled by armed sentries.”  Three hundred sixty-six days after the death of William Daniel Rowland, the 509th Composite Group would launch from Tinian’s North Field on its fateful mission to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

Private First Class William Daniel Rowland was buried in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu.

For more information on William Daniel Rowland see:

https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/scroll/william-daniel-rowland/

For additional information on Clemson University’s Scroll of Honor visit:

https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/

See also The Fleet at Flood Tide: America at Total War in the Pacific, 1944-1945 by James Hornfischer, Bantam, 2016 and Twilight of the Gods: War in the Western Pacific, 1944-1945 by Ian Toll, W.W. Norton & Company, 2020.

 

 

 

 

Scroll of Honor – William Edward Worthy

En Route

Written by: Kelly Durham

Major Bill Worthy’s orders carried him to Bangkok, Thailand en route to his new duty station, the Royal Thai Air Force Base at Takhli.  Worthy was on his way to join the 42nd Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron which supported Air Force missions into North Vietnam from ostensibly safer Thai territory.  While he awaited transportation up-country to Takhli, Worthy was quartered at the Chao Phya Hotel in the heart of bustling Bangkok.

William Edward Worthy graduated from Chester High School in 1951 and enrolled in Clemson College that fall as a textile manufacturing major.  As a freshman, he was a member of the best drilled platoon in the Cadet Corps’ best drilled company.  An honors student, he was a member of Phi Psi, the textile honorary society, and attended Air Force ROTC summer training at Randolph Air Force Base in Texas.  Colonel Martin Alewine Jr., a member of the Class of 1954 and Worthy’s cadet company at Clemson, recalled that “Bill took his duties in the Cadet Corps seriously and was always sharply dressed in uniform, consistent in his leadership, and insisted that all cadets – including 3rd semester juniors – shape up and do the platoon and company proud.”

Worthy graduated and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Air Force on June 5, 1955.  He reported for active duty and was sent to Harlingen Air Force Base, Texas to train as a bomber/navigator on the B-52 Stratofortress.  Operational assignments as a B-52 navigator followed in Oklahoma and Ohio.  Worthy then earned an MBA degree from the University of Oklahoma before shipping out to Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii for a tour of duty as navigator on a C-124 cargo aircraft.  He was awarded the Air Medal for meritorious achievement while serving with the 50th Military Airlift Squadron and displaying outstanding airmanship and courage under extremely hazardous conditions.

Major Worthy’s next assignment brought him back to South Carolina for transition training on the EB-66, an electronic warfare aircraft designed to detect and jam enemy air defense radar.  Once this training was completed, Worthy headed west, traveling through Hawaii and Guam to Clark Air Force Base, the Philippines, where he attended Jungle Survival School.  From the Philippines, Worthy flew to Bangkok and checked into the Chao Phya Hotel.  He was scheduled to depart for Takhli on Saturday, June 11, 1970.  On Friday evening, June 10, Major Worthy, wearing his Air Force uniform and accompanied by another service member, left the Chao Phya to walk to dinner at a nearby restaurant.  While crossing the street, a hit-and-run driver struck Worthy.  Suffering from internal and external injuries, Worthy was taken to the 5th Army Field Hospital in Bangkok.  He never regained consciousness and died on July 16, 1970.

Worthy was survived by his wife, Laura Jean Rash Worthy and their three-year-old daughter Kristy.  In addition to the Air Medal, he was awarded the Air Force Commendation Medal with One Oak Leaf Cluster, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with One Oak Leaf Cluster, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Air Force Longevity Service Award with Two Oak Leaf Clusters, and the Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Award.  He is buried in the Florence National Cemetery.

For more information on Major William Edward Worthy see:

https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/scroll/william-edward-worthy/

For additional information on Clemson University’s Scroll of Honor visit:

https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/

 

 

 

Scroll of Honor – Edwin William Goddard

“One of Our Finest”

Written by: Kelly Durham

The war in Europe had been over for nearly a month, but the war in the Pacific appeared to be as vicious as ever. True, Japanese cities were taking a pounding from American bombers and the Navy was tightening its cordon around the home islands, but the Japanese military and government showed no signs of capitulation. As a result, the stateside training of new soldiers, sailors, and airmen continued at a relentless pace. One of the trainers was Edwin William Goddard.

Goddard arrived on campus in the late summer of 1941, a member of the last class to enroll at Clemson College before war came to the United States. An engineering major from St. Matthews, he was assigned to Company B, 1st Battalion, 1st Regiment of the Cadet Brigade. Rather than returning to campus for his sophomore year, Goddard enlisted in the Army Air Force and eventually qualified for flight training.

In Europe, General Eisenhower declared June 6, 1945, a training holiday for American forces to commemorate the first anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy. In the United States, it was just another Wednesday, with training operations continuing at bases all across the country. One of those bases was Spence Field, an Army Air Force training post about six miles southeast of Moultrie, Georgia. There, Second Lieutenant Goddard was serving as an instructor pilot assigned to the 2133rd Army Air Force Base Unit. Goddard’s job was to teach advanced single engine flying to Army aviation cadets.

Goddard’s mission on that Wednesday was to instruct cadet Vincent Finewood in the AT-6 Texan, a single-engine advanced trainer aircraft widely used by both the Army Air Force and the Navy. Of course, given the pace of training, Goddard and Finewood weren’t the only crew in the air that day. Instructor pilot Second Lieutenant Frederick Schaeffer was also aloft in an AT-6 with his student, aviation cadet Jack Gibbs. In both cases, the instructors, Goddard and Schaeffer, were in the front seat of their aircraft, while the students were in the back seats. The AT-6 is a low-wing aircraft, limiting the pilots’ visibility below. At some point during the training flights, as both planes were about nine miles north of Berlin, Georgia, the two aircraft collided. All four occupants were killed and there were no witnesses to the accident. Army investigators determined that the likely cause of the crash was pilot error, that neither instructor saw the other plane as he was focusing his attention on his student.

Edwin Goddard was remembered as a “young gentleman,” one of St. Matthews’ “finest young men.” Second Lieutenant Goddard was survived by his parents, one sister, and a brother, an Army major also stationed in Georgia. He was buried at West End Cemetery in St. Matthews.

For more information on Edwin William Goddard see:

For additional information on Clemson University’s Scroll of Honor visit:

https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/

 

Scroll of Honor – David Aiken Crawford, Jr.

“Defining Moment”

Written by: Kelly Durham

David Aiken Crawford, Jr. was the only child of Mr. and Mrs. David A. Crawford, Sr. of Winnsboro. In 1941, he graduated from Mount Zion Institute and matriculated at Clemson College. As a cadet, he was assigned to Company G, 2nd Battalion, 1st Regiment of the Cadet Brigade. His experience as a cadet would give him a leg up on the other young men he would soon encounter. At the end of the 1943 academic year with America’s military mobilization reaching high gear, most of Clemson’s cadets received their marching orders for Army basic training. David Crawford headed first to Fort McClellan, Alabama and then continued his training at Fort Meade, Maryland.

In January 1944, Crawford joined the hundreds of thousands of young Americans heading to Great Britain to join the buildup for the eventual invasion of France. Crawford was assigned to Company I, 116th Infantry Regiment, 29th Infantry Division. He could not have known it at the time, but his regiment was destined to land on Omaha Beach on D-Day.

From his arrival in England into the spring, Crawford and his comrades trained nearly continuously. Training advanced from individual and small unit tactics to operations in larger formations and included practice in loading aboard landing craft and making assault landings. Toward the end of May, the 116th, like other regiments participating in the initial landings, was sent to assembly areas in the south of England.

The 116th was part of the great armada of warships of every size and purpose that sailed from ports stretched across England’s south coast, from Sheerness at the mouth of the Thames River in the east to Helford in the west. As the invasion fleet headed into the English Channel on June 5, 1944, the men in the ships were headed toward what General Eisenhower, the Allied Supreme Commander, called “the Great Crusade.”

David Crawford’s Company I was scheduled to hit Omaha Beach in D-Day’s second wave at 0720 hours, fifty minutes after the first troops stepped on to the sand. Crawford and his fellow soldiers were fed an early breakfast of Spam sandwiches and coffee and then ordered to their landing craft. At about 0430, they began boarding the boats, loaded down with personal gear and all the ammunition they could carry.

Once the boats were fully loaded, they pushed away from the transport ships and began to circle nearby, gathering all the boats into formation before heading out on the two hour, ten mile run into the landing beaches. As the second wave approached Omaha, roughly on schedule, they couldn’t know that elements of the first wave, also from the 116th Infantry Regiment, had received a hellish greeting. Company A, the first to land, had incurred ninety-six percent casualties, including all of its officers and sergeants. And no wonder: the invading troops were confronted by German defenses which “included minefields, barbed wire, antitank ditches, and interlocking bands of automatic fire” all concentrated at the exits from the beach which the Americans were attempting to capture.

An LCVP approaches Normandy on June 6, 1944 National World War II Museum

Crawford’s Company I arrived on a beach littered with dead and wounded soldiers, equipment, supplies, and vehicles, many of which had already been knocked out of action. Although the company’s seven LCVP landed on time, they hit the sand approximately one thousand yards to the left of Dog Red, their assigned sector of the beach in front of the village of Les Moulins. The company landed instead on Easy Green–but there was nothing easy about it. After the punishing ride in from the transports in the wallowing, wave-bucking, flat-prow landing craft, most of the men were already exhausted from seasickness, the heavy weight of weapons, ammunition, and equipment, and the cacophonous racket of friendly and enemy shells streaking overhead—and landing all too close. Not to mention fear.

Despite the violent inferno, despite the slaughter on the beach and the confusion and helplessness of battle, Company I attacked and by noon on that agonizing day had fought its way off the beach and onto the plateau above. By midday, Company I had moved inland one half mile along the road leading toward St. Laurent.

By the end of D-Day, the Allies had gained a foothold in France, one they would continue to expand over the weeks to come. But the Germans were not finished. They continued to resist and to counterattack. On June 7, Private First Class David Crawford was killed in action. He was laid to rest in the American Military Cemetery at Colleville on the picturesque bluff overlooking Omaha Beach. After the war, Crawford’s remains were returned to Winnsboro and buried at the Bethel ARP Church.

Historian Stephen Ambrose called D-Day the “defining moment of the 20th Century.” Omaha Beach, in the center of the invasion frontage, was a narrowly-won victory. Nothing went according to plan and in the end, Ambrose wrote, “It all came down to a bunch of eighteen-to-twenty-eight year olds… when the test came, when freedom had to be fought for or abandoned, they fought. They were soldiers of democracy. They were the men of D-Day, and to them we owe our freedom.”

For more information about Private First Class David Aiken Crawford, Jr. see:
https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/scroll/david-aiken-crawford-jr/

For additional information about Clemson University’s Scroll of Honor visit:

https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/

See also D-Day June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II, by Stephen Ambrose, Touchstone Books, 1994.

Scroll of Honor – Samuel Vincent Taylor

Dive Bomber

Written by: Kelly Durham

Dive bombers, like those flown during World War II in the Pacific Theater by Navy and Marine Corps pilots, were considered more accurate than the horizontal bombers more commonly associated with the war in Europe. This was particularly true when the targets were relatively small, like bridges, ships, or the tactical positions of an enemy force. Samuel Vincent Taylor, Clemson College Class of 1937, was a dive bomber pilot with a Marine Corps’ squadron in the South Pacific.

“Dinky” Taylor came to Clemson in 1933 from Greeleyville in Williamsburg County. An agriculture major, he left Clemson after completing three and a half years of school.
By 1942, Taylor had joined the Marines and had qualified for flight training. His initial training was at the Naval Reserve aviation base in Atlanta. He was then sent to Pensacola Naval Air Station in Florida and he was awarded his wings as a Marine Corps pilot at Miami in July 1942.

By the winter of 1943, Taylor was a first lieutenant assigned to VMSB 144, a Marine scouting/bombing squadron based at Henderson Field on Guadalcanal. The squadron, flying Douglas Dauntless SBD-4 dive bombers, completed its first combat tour in mid-March and then joined its ground echelon on Efate, in the South Pacific some 400 miles northeast of New Caledonia on the eastern edge of the Coral Sea.

Even though the squadron was out of combat, training in the art of dive bombing continued. The Army Air Force’s heavy bombers employed the secret Norden bombsight to drop bombs accurately from high altitudes—with decidedly mixed results. Taylor and his comrades delivered their bombs on target not by relying on a highly technical, highly classified bombsight, but by simply aiming their aircraft directly at the target. As the bomber dove toward its target, the pilot could adjust his aim by tweaking the angle of his dive. This, of course, required practice.

On Tuesday, May 25, 1943, First Lieutenant Taylor was leading a five-aircraft formation on a practice dive bombing mission at Monument Rock on the north side of Efate. At approximately 1300 hours, Taylor and the number two aircraft piloted by Lieutenant George Huffman, began their dives with what appeared to be normal intervals. No one saw or heard a collision, but moments later, debris from both aircraft was seen falling from an estimated altitude of three thousand feet. Two parachutes were seen, but no one was attached to the first and the other was lost in the sea before it could be determined if anyone was strapped to it. Two oil slicks were sighted by a crash boat that responded to the accident, but neither Taylor nor Huffman, nor their gunners Private First Class Henry Kemper, Jr. and Corporal Paul Walker, were ever found.

First Lieutenant Samuel Vincent Taylor is memorialized at the Honolulu Memorial in Hawaii.

For more information on Samuel Vincent Taylor see:
https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/scroll/samuel-vincent-taylor/

For additional information about Clemson University’s Scroll of Honor visit:
https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/

 

 

 

 

 

Scroll of Honor – William Hunter Carson

The Critical Moment

Written by: Kelly Durham

William Hunter Carson of Orangeburg was a member of the Class of 1942, the first cohort to graduate from Clemson College after America’s entry into World War II. A textile engineering major, Carson was recognized as an honors student and was inducted into Phi Psi, the national textile honor society. He was also a member of the Tri-County Club which he served as secretary his junior year and president as a senior. In the Cadet Brigade, Carson was a member of B Company, 1st Battalion of the 2nd Regiment and was a member of the Freshman Platoon composed of the best drilled members of his class.

Despite never advancing beyond the rank of cadet corporal, Carson’s military college experience and educational achievement prepared him for active duty. He volunteered for the Army Air Force and qualified for pilot training.

By the spring of 1944, Carson was a multiengine aircraft pilot assigned to Boca Raton Army Airfield in Florida. The base was the headquarters for Army Air Force training on the developing technology of radar. In addition to classroom training in theory and application, personnel learned to maintain radar equipment and, most importantly, how to operate it in flight. With the technology assuming an increasingly important role for the Army Air Force, training operations were conducted virtually around the clock.

On the morning of May 12, 1944, First Lieutenant Carson was assigned as the pilot of an RB-34 twin engine aircraft for a radar training mission. The RB-34 was a radar-equipped version of the Lockheed Ventura medium bomber. In addition to Carson at the controls of the aircraft, eight other crew members and trainees were aboard.

During his pilot training, Carson learned of the four basic forces acting on an airplane in flight, including thrust, the force that moves an aircraft forward. In a simple single engine airplane, thrust is provided by the propeller mounted on the nose of the airframe and centered along its longitudinal axis. In the case of the RB-34, thrust was provided by its propellers, one on each wing.

As Carson completed his pre-flight checks and taxied onto runway 9, he was about to encounter a most difficult condition at the most critical moment of his flight. As Carson’s aircraft lifted from the runway and climbed to an altitude of thirty to forty feet, the left engine lost power. Within a fraction of a second, the aircraft’s thrust shifted from straight ahead to asymmetric. All of a sudden, the existing power and thrust provided by the right engine and propeller overwhelmed the lack of thrust from the left. The aircraft yawed violently to the left, its left wing dropping and colliding with the ground. The bomber cartwheeled into the ground, breaking the fuselage in two and separating both engines from the wings. The aircraft then burst into flames.

The official accident report concluded, “The crash was due to the loss of power of the left engine shortly after the take-off at the critical time when a successful single engine operation would be extremely difficult.”

William Hunter Carson was survived by his parents, a sister, and two brothers, one then in the Army, the other serving in the Navy. He was buried in Memorial Park Cemetery in Orangeburg.

For more information about First Lieutenant William Hunter Carson see:
https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/scroll/william-hunter-carson/

For additional information about Clemson University’s Scroll of Honor visit:
https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/

 

 

 

 

Scroll of Honor – Jesse Franklin Gibson

“One of Our Best Boys”

Written by: Kelly Durham

Jesse Franklin Gibson came to Clemson in 1936 from the crossroads community of Centenary.  An engineering major, Gibson joined the Swamp Fox Club which had been organized the previous year by the boys from Marion County to provide a social forum to relieve the rigors of cadet life.  Gibson was assigned to 2nd Platoon of D Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Regiment of the Cadet Brigade.  He remained at Clemson only one year before returning to Centenary.  Back home, Gibson worked in farming and served as the treasurer of Terrell’s Bay Baptist Church.

Gibson reported for active duty in November 1942, just as America’s fortunes in World War II began to turn.  He was assigned to Headquarters Battery of the 374th Field Artillery Battalion, one of the 105 mm howitzer battalions assigned to the 100th Infantry Division.

374th Field Artillery Battalion crew in action.

In September of 1944, Gibson’s battalion moved from its training base at Fort Bragg, North Carolina to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey.  It boarded the Hoboken Ferry and crossed to New York’s Pier 44.  The battalion loaded its gear and personnel aboard the USAT George Washington for a fourteen day Atlantic crossing to Europe.  The ship passed through the Straights of Gibraltar, reaching Marseilles, France on October 20, 1944.

The 374th and its parent 100th Infantry Division, became part of 7th Army and moved north from Marseilles up the Rhone River Valley, reaching its bivouac near Sainte-Hélène on October 29.  The battalion was formally committed to combat at Raon l’Etape and began firing its howitzers in support of 100th Infantry Division operations.  The battalion continued to support the 100th’s advance as it moved into the rugged Vosges Mountains toward the French-German frontier.

The fast and accurate fire of the 374th’s artillery helped the division beat back a determined German counterattack which commenced on New Year’s Eve 1944.  At one point, with flanking units pulling back from the line, the 379th Infantry Regiment was exposed to German attacks from three sides.  The 374th’s shelling helped blunt the German attack and enabled the division to hold its positions.

On March 16, 1945, Gibson’s battalion reached the Rhine River.  Six days later, it crossed through the vaunted Siegfried Line and into Germany.  The battalion continued to advance through what its official history called “beautiful country prostituted by the Nazi Regime,” capturing the towns of Frankenbach and Heilbronn.

On April 22, near the village of Manolzweiler, east of Stuttgart, Germany, Jesse Gibson was killed in an ambush by German snipers.  The 374th Battalion history described him as “one of our best boys.”  The following day, the 374th, after a record-setting 178 consecutive days on the line, was pulled out and placed in the 7th Army’s reserve.

Private First Class Jesse Franklin Gibson was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.  He was survived by his mother, five sisters, and two brothers, one of whom was serving in the Army and the other in the Marines.  Gibson was buried at the Lorraine American Military Cemetery in France.  A memorial marker was placed in the Centenary Cemetery.

For additional information about Jesse Franklin Gibson see:

https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/scroll/jesse-franklin-gibson/

For more information about Clemson University’s Scroll of Honor visit:

https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/

 

 

Scroll of Honor – Thomas Archie Scott

Leader Among Leaders

Written by: Kelly Durham

Thomas Archie Scott was a flyer even before he entered the military.  At Clemson, Scott was a member of the Flying Cadets, learning to fly  a biplane in the peaceful skies over the campus.  Before long, Scott would be piloting larger, more deadly aircraft in decidedly unfriendly skies.

Tom Scott graduated from Honea Path’s Ellen Woodside High School and enrolled at Clemson in 1938.  A vocational agricultural education major, he was a member of the Future Farmers of America and the Newman Club, the association of Catholic cadets.  He also participated in ROTC Camp, held on the Clemson campus in the summer of 1941.

Following his 1942 graduation, Tom took his piloting skills to the Army Air Force.  He earned his pilot’s wings at Valdosta, Georgia in March 1943.   Tom joined the 721st Bomb Squadron at Alamogordo, New Mexico where he was assigned to a combat crew.  In December, Tom, now the pilot of a B-24 heavy bomber, headed overseas.

Tom Scott, standing far right, with the crew of Paper Doll.

The 721st was a squadron of the 15th Air Force flying combat missions from Manduria Airfield on the heel of the Italian boot.  The 721st  bombed strategic targets in northern Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and the Balkans.  The squadron began combat operations in January 1944 and Tom quickly emerged as a reliable combat leader.  Squadron commander Major Howard Davis recalled that  “On numerous occasions, I had assigned [Tom] to lead combat units of 21 bombers over the most difficult targets that were assigned by the Fifteenth Air Force for us to bomb.  Never once did he falter.  His congeniality was an inspiration to every man that served with him.”

By mid-April 1944, Tom, the pilot of a B-24 nicknamed Paper Doll, had completed thirty combat missions and had been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with oak leaf clusters.  On April 12, Paper Doll was part of a nine ship formation sent to bomb the aircraft assembly plant at Wiener Neustadt, Austria.  Mechanical issues forced the aircraft to abort the mission and Tom landed for repairs at Foggia, about one hundred sixty miles northwest of Manduria.  Paper Doll underwent repairs while Tom and his crew returned to Manduria.  After several days, Tom’s squadron was notified that the repairs had been completed.  On April 18, a crew from Manduria flew Tom, his copilot, navigator, and flight engineer to Foggia to pick up Paper Doll.  According to this crew, Tom made a normal takeoff in Paper Doll and headed out on course for Manduria.  The ferry crew took off and returned to the airfield, but when they arrived, they noted that Paper Doll had not returned.  Late that evening, the squadron learned that Paper Doll had crashed. All four aboard were killed.

Major Davis, the squadron commander, personally investigated the cause of the crash.  He viewed the wreckage of Paper Doll and interviewed an Italian who witnessed the crash.  One of the B-24’s four propellers had stopped turning and the “other three were windmilling as if they were getting no gas. I have checked back on every detail and I have been unable to find the slightest clue which might have caused the four engines to quit,” Davis wrote to Tom’s parents.  “I am sure that something happened which was beyond the control of  Tom.”  Davis added, “ I valued Tom’s flying experience above any man in the Squadron.  He had come back from several missions that I am sure that it was only through his skill and judgment that he was able to return.”

“He was not only a man among men, but a leader among leaders,” Major Davis continued.  “His loss is not only a personal loss to you and to me and this Squadron, but it is a serious loss to Democracy and all it stands for…”

First Lieutenant Thomas Archie Scott was buried in an American Military Cemetery in Italy.  He was survived by his parents, two brothers, and three sisters.  After the war, his remains were returned to the United States and laid to rest in the Columbia Baptist Church Cemetery.

For more information about Thomas Archie Scott see:

https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/scroll/thomas-archie-scott/

For additional information about Clemson University’s Scroll of Honor visit:

https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/

 

Scroll of Honor – Thomas Edward Davis, Jr.

Inside the Reich

Written by: Kelly Durham

By the spring of 1945, the Germans, pinched from both the east and the west, were facing certain defeat.  Even with their homeland invaded, Hitler and his Nazi cronies were unwilling to face the reality of their dire circumstances. They refused to give up and so the fighting and the dying continued.  Thomas Edward Davis, Jr. was one of the junior officers leading the Allied offensive inside Germany.

Davis was a member of Clemson’s Class of 1944. At the conclusion of his junior year, the architecture major from Newberry saw his collegiate career suspended when he, like most of the other cadets on campus, was ordered to active duty.  The War Department’s need for manpower to fight a global war trumped the benefit of retaining able-bodied men in the relative safety of college campuses.

Davis trained at Fort Knox, Kentucky and earned his commission as a second lieutenant in August 1944.  He was assigned to the 80th Tank Battalion of the 8th Armored Division, the “Thundering Herd.”  The 80th departed its training base, Camp Polk, Louisiana, in October 1944 and headed to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey for embarkation.  The battalion sailed from New York on November 7, its overseas destination unknown.  Arriving in England on November 19, the battalion proceeded to Tidworth to draw its equipment and then moved into a staging area to await its transportation to France.

An M-4 Sherman Tank of the 80th Tank Battalion.

On January 6, 1945, the battalion sailed from Portland and arrived at LeHavre, France the following day.  A long road march in cold, windy, snowy conditions eventually ended with the battalion’s arrival in Vilt, Holland.  On February 19, the battalion relieved British tank units near Hingen and saw its first combat action.  The battalion, still a part of the 8th Armored Division, was now under the command of the 9th Army and was acting as a holding force pending a planned offensive into the Roer Valley.

The 80th entered Germany on February 28 as the big offensive got underway.  Throughout March, the 80th battled its way deeper into Germany, crossing the Rhine River on March 26.  Against “very stiff” German resistance, the 80th reached Bork, Germany on April 1 and was then relieved by elements of the 95th Infantry Division.  But the 80th’s rest was short lived.

On April 3, intelligence reports located two German Armies and at least one Panzer Division in the Ruhr pocket.  The 8th Armored Division was ordered to attack from Lippstadt toward Hirschberg, about twenty miles to the south, to isolate and destroy the German forces.

Second Lieutenant Davis, commanding a platoon of five M-4 Sherman tanks, was attached to Task Force Walker for the attack.  While approaching the town of Norddorf at 0750 hours, the task force encountered enemy tank fire.  As it advanced, German tank fire was augmented by artillery, small arms, and anti-tank weapons.  During this attack, Davis was killed.

Thomas Edward Davis, Jr. was survived by his parents and sister.  He was awarded the Purple Heart and buried at the American Military Cemetery, Margraten, Netherlands.

For more information about Second Lieutenant Thomas Edward Davis, Jr. see:

https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/scroll/thomas-edward-davis-jr/

For additional information about Clemson University’s Scroll of Honor visit:

https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/

Scroll of Honor – Charles Edward Coleman

First Night

Written by: Kelly Durham

At the end of the 1942-43 academic year, David Lawrence Alexander, Jr. and the rest of his Class of 1944 bade farewell to the Clemson campus.  They were headed off to war, a war from which many would never return.

Alexander arrived at Clemson in 1940.  A mechanical engineering major from Aiken, he was assigned to Company B, 1st Battalion, 1st Regiment of the Cadet Brigade.  When the spring semester ended in 1943, Alexander and most of the rest of Clemson’s cadets were ordered to report for Army basic training.  With his experience as a Clemson cadet, Alexander did well enough in basic to qualify for Officers’ Candidate School.

While Alexander continued his Stateside training, America’s fortunes were improving.  In the Pacific, Marine and Army forces were winning grueling battles in New Guinea and at Guadalcanal.  In Europe, Sicily was conquered and Italy invaded.  Then came the invasion of France on D-Day.  The change in the momentum of the war came with a steep price tag.  In a seventy-five day campaign in Normandy, the Allies suffered nearly 210,000 casualties including almost 40,000 dead.  Casualty rates were highest, as one would expect, among the frontline infantrymen.  In Normandy, some divisions experienced casualty rates as high as 100% among enlisted soldiers and 150% among junior officers, the lieutenants and captains leading platoons and companies.  According to historian Stephen Ambrose, one regiment of the 90th Infantry Division lost platoon leaders at a rate of 48%–per week.

With Germany far from defeated, the need for replacements, particularly among the infantry, was acute.  To meet the increasing manpower need, the Army shipped individual replacements to existing divisions and deployed fresh divisions that had been organized and trained in the United States.  Second Lieutenant David Alexander was assigned to the 71st Infantry Division which was among the last US infantry divisions committed to combat in Europe.  It arrived at Le Havre, France in early February 1945.  After in-theater training, the 71st moved east in March and relieved the 100th Infantry Division at Ratzwiller in the Vosges Mountains of eastern France.  The mission of the 71st was to continue to push the Germans out of France, across the Rhine River, and into Germany.

On March 13, 1945, Second Lieutenant Alexander was killed in action during his first night in combat near Bitche, about six miles west of the German border.

David Lawrence Alexander, Jr. was awarded the Purple Heart and was survived by his parents.  He is buried at the Epinal American Military Cemetery in France.

For more information on Second Lieutenant David Lawrence Alexander, Jr. see:

https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/scroll/david-lawrence-alexander-jr/

For additional information about Clemson University’s Scroll of Honor visit:

https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/

Scroll of Honor – Charles Edward Coleman

Rammabschuss

Written by: Kelly DurhamCharles Edward Coleman

Charles Edward Coleman and Willi Maximowitz never formally met, but their encounter in the unfriendly skies over wartime Germany would have tragic results.  Coleman would be at the controls of an American heavy bomber, Maximowitz was the pilot of a German fighter.

Coleman arrived on the Clemson campus in 1940 after attending Carlisle Military School in Bamberg.  A textile engineering major from Charlotte, North Carolina, Coleman was assigned to K Company, 3rd Battalion of the 1st Regiment of the Cadet Brigade.  With the outbreak of war, Coleman broke off his studies and volunteered for the Army Air Force.

Coleman earned his pilot’s wings in September 1943 at Turner Field  near Albany, Georgia and was selected for multi-engine aircraft.  In October, he married Betty Hunneycutt of Charlotte.   After completing his combat crew training in the B-17 bomber, he shipped overseas to England where he joined the 388th Bomb Group at Knettishall.

Second Lieutenant Coleman’s second combat mission was to bomb aircraft production facilities in the vicinity of Brunswick, Aircraft - Pegasus TooGermany as the copilot of Pegasus Too, piloted by First Lieutenant L. Wilson.  From 0600 to 0651 on March 23, 1944, thirty-one aircraft took off from the 388th’s base.  Assembling into formation without difficulty, the aircraft turned to the east.  According to the group’s mission report, the formation crossed the enemy coast ahead of schedule.  This efficiency led to disaster.  “Consequently,” the report continues, “no friendly fighter escort was met until the formation was near the IP,” the point from which its bomb run commenced.  As a result, thirty-five to forty-five enemy fighters, mostly Focke-Wulf 190s, attacked the formation between 0955 and 1010 hours.  “The attacks were vicious.”  The German fighters attacked from above and to the left front of the bombers.  Two of the bombers were shot down.  Coleman’s aircraft, however, was attacked in a less conventional manner.

Unteroffizier Willi Maximowitz was the pilot of one of the attacking German fighters.  Chased by an American P-38 fighter

Willi Maximowtizi in his FW 190

which had now caught up with the bombers, Maximowitz streaked through the American formation and aimed his nimble fighter at Coleman’s big bomber.  As he barreled past, Maximowitz lowered his wing and clipped off five feet of the B-17’s horizontal stabilizer—the tail plane that controlled the bomber’s pitch angle.  Coleman and Wilson, were unable to control the airplane and it began to spin.  Crewmen from other bombers in the formation saw three parachutes escape from the plane, which subsequently crashed near Steyerberg, south of Bremen.  Coleman, Wilson and five of their crew were killed.  The three who successfully escaped the spinning bomber were captured and made prisoners of war.

Maximowitz likewise was forced to bail out of his damaged fighter, the wing of  which had been sheared off.  Nonetheless, he was credited with his third enemy bomber, this one “Rammabschuss”–shot down by ramming.  Maximowitz would go on to shoot down a total of fifteen American bombers before his fighter group was transferred to the Eastern Front in early 1945.  He would add twelve Soviet aircraft to his tally of aerial victims before failing to return from a combat mission on April 20, 1945.

Charles Edward Colman's headstoneSecond Lieutenant Charles Edward Coleman was awarded the Purple Heart.  He was survived by his wife and his parents.  He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

For more information about Charles Edward Coleman see:

https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/scroll/charles-edward-coleman/

For additional information about Clemson University’s Scroll of Honor visit:

https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/

Scroll of Honor – Benjamin Franklin Robertson, Jr.

“…Never Was a Night so Black…”

Written by: Kelly Durham

He is little known today, but at his death in early 1943, Benjamin Franklin Robertson, Jr. was arguably Clemson’s most famous son.  A hometown boy, Robertson grew up in Calhoun, the tiny community just north of the railroad tracks that run through what is now more commonly known as Clemson.  His father and namesake, a member of Clemson’s first graduating class in 1896, worked on campus in the office of the state chemist.   Ben’s mother died on Christmas Eve 1910, perhaps from a diabetic reaction from sampling the numerous holiday cakes and pies she was preparing.  Ben’s grieving father sent his son to live with the boy’s uncle in Liberty.  When Robertson senior remarried in 1913, Ben and his sister Mary returned to the family’s home on Hotel Hill, overlooking the campus.

When time came for Ben to continue his education at the collegiate level, it seemed only natural that he would follow in his father’s footsteps and enroll in Clemson.  Though Ben was gifted with a facility for words and literature, Clemson was an agricultural school without any liberal arts degree programs.  Ben selected horticulture as his major.

According to his 1923 classmates, Ben Robertson “loved to gossip.”  Even so, read his senior profile in Taps, “to know him is to like him,” a circumstance due in part to his reputation for integrity—and also perhaps because Ben knew how to have a good time.  He was the founding pianist of the Jungaleers, Clemson’s dance band.  “When it comes to jazzing a piano, Ben paws a mean pedal,” Taps proclaimed.  Of course, Ben may have had some influence over his profile: he served as the yearbook’s editor-in-chief as a senior.   He was also the associate editor of the Chronicle, the campus literary magazine.  In addition to being a man of letters, Ben was a member of the Pickens County Club and the Dancing Club.  He sang in the Glee Club and put his musical prowess into practice as a member of the campus orchestra.

After graduation, Robertson headed west, to the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism.  After a year at Missouri, Ben returned to South Carolina.  In order to gain experience and accumulate funds to return to school, he took a job with Charleston’s News and Courier where his writing , according to biographer Jodie Peeler, reflected a “personal, folksy story-telling style.”   Ben returned to Missouri in 1925 and completed his degree in journalism in 1926.  Ben must have been stricken with wanderlust, or perhaps a profound curiosity about the world, for he followed his graduation with a stint in Honolulu on the staff of the Star-Bulletin.  In 1927, he headed west again–further west–to Adelaide, Australia.  From 1929 to 1934, he reported for the New York Herald Tribune, after which he took a job with the Associated Press.  He bounced over to the United Press in 1935, but two years later was back with the AP.  In 1938, Robertson published his first novel, Traveler’s Rest, based on his ancestors’ experiences in South Carolina.

In 1940, following the outbreak of war in Europe, Robertson went to London to cover the story for the anti-fascist New York newspaper PM.  There he came to know the most famous American correspondent of the day, Edward R. Murrow, who reported from London for CBS Radio and who would later describe Ben as his “best friend.”  With Murrow, Ben would venture out of London to Shakespeare Cliff overlooking the English Channel at Dover. There they witnessed the dogfights between British and German aircraft that characterized the Battle of Britain.  His observations would inform his second book, I Saw England, published in 1941.  Robertson wrote:

I lost my sense of personal fear because I saw that what happened to me did not matter.  We counted as individuals only as we took our place in the procession of history.  It was not we who counted, it was what we stood for.  And I knew for what I was standing – I was for freedom.  It was as simple as that.  …  I understood Valley Forge and Gettysburg at Dover, and I found it lifted a tremendous weight off your spirit to find yourself willing to give up your life, if you have to – I discovered Saint Matthew’s meaning about losing a life to find it.  I don’t see now why I should ever again be afraid.

When Ben’s friend Ernie Pyle, the famous Scripps-Howard columnist, arrived to cover the Blitz, Ben showed him how to navigate wartime London.  “I feel like a mental child beside them,” Pyle wrote of his correspondent colleagues.  “Yet I discovered that almost without exception they are friendly and helpful.  And I discovered that among them almost nobody stands higher than my one old friend in London, Ben Robertson of PM.”

Reporting for PM and the Chicago Sun, Robertson circled the globe often flying as a passenger on Pan American Airways’ famous Clipper flying boats and covering stories in the Pacific, Asia, and North Africa.  He navigated the fine line between propaganda and advocacy journalism, certain that the United States should support Great Britain in its battle against Nazi Germany.

Robertson’s best-known—and last book—was published in 1942.  “By the grace of God, my kinfolks and I are Carolinians…” opens Red Hills and Cotton: An Upcountry Memory.  The book was widely-praised for the charm, warmth, and beauty of Robertson’s descriptions of his family and an energetic, self-confident South.  Though noted for his writing about family and his ability to befriend the low-born as well as the noble, Ben never married.  He did maintain a relationship with a woman friend, Jeanne Gadsden, who typed and edited his books and with whom he shared the foster parenting of a boy Ben brought home from the devastation of London’s Blitz.  The boy, Leslie Phillips, would eventually become an American citizen and make a career in the US Air Force.

In January 1943, Ben joined first lady Eleanor Roosevelt and former Republican presidential candidate Wendell Willkie on a speaking tour to promote a campaign for Russian relief.  Then, having accepted a job as head of the New York Herald Tribune’s London bureau, Robertson was on the move again.

On the morning of February 21, Robertson boarded the Yankee Clipper, one of Pan American’s flying boats, at the Marine Air Terminal at New York’s Municipal Airport.  Technically under the control of the Army, the Clippers though still crewed and piloted by Pan Am employees, were reserved for official government travel.  Ben had waited for several days for his turn to board the big aircraft for its flight to Europe.  Bound for Lisbon in neutral Portugal, Ben’s flight stopped first in Bermuda and then in the Azores before completing its journey on Lisbon’s Tagus River.  The Clipper was a luxurious aircraft which had inaugurated trans-Atlantic passenger service.  It was noted for aerial elegance, from its dining room to its sleeping berths.  Settling into his seat, Ben looked across the narrow aisle to discover that his neighbor was Jane Froman, the prominent singer and a friend of Ben’s from their days together at the University of Missouri.  Froman was bound for Europe with a USO troupe scheduled to perform for American military personnel.

On February 22, after its seven-hour leg from Horta in the Azores, the Clipper descended toward Lisbon and approached the landing area on the Tagus River as a thunderstorm swept into the area.  Although there was little wind or rain at the moment, lightning was reported nearby.  Port officials noted that the Clipper, under the command of experienced captain R. O. D. Sullivan, was in radio contact as it neared its landing and that the flight was proceeding normally.  Suddenly, as the aircraft turned left, its wing struck the water, flipping the Clipper and slamming it into the river at one hundred thirty miles per hour.  Fifteen aboard, including Captain Sullivan and Jane Froman, survived the crash.  Ben Robertson and twenty-three others were killed.

Robertson’s body was recovered about three weeks later some thirty miles downstream.  It was returned by ship to the United States and then to Clemson where a funeral service was held on April 17.  He was laid to rest in the  family plot at Westview Cemetery in Liberty.  College officials added Robertson to the Clemson Scroll of Honor by virtue of his status as an accredited war correspondent.

The SS Ben Robertson, a Liberty ship, was launched from Savannah, Georgia in January 1944 and served both the Normandy landings and operations in the Pacific.  It is a fitting honor to a man who traveled on and over the seas, but perhaps the most poignant tribute was paid by his friend Murrow.  On one of his broadcasts to America, Murrow described Robertson as “the least hard-boiled newspaperman I have ever known.  He didn’t need to be, for his roots were deep in the red soil of Carolina, and he had a faith that is denied to many of us.”   Murrow’s deep, familiar voice crackled over the airwaves, “There never was a night so black Ben couldn’t see the stars.”

For more information on Benjamin Franklin Robertson, Jr. see:

https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/scroll/benjamin-franklin-robertson/

For additional information on Clemson University’s Scroll of Honor visit:

https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/

See also Jodie Peeler’s excellent biography, Ben Robertson: South Carolina Journalist and Author, University of South Carolina Press, 2019.

Scroll of Honor – McFaddin Moise

Clemson to Annapolis

Written by: Kelly DurhamMcFaddin Moise

McFaddin Moise of Sumter began his collegiate career at Clemson College enrolling in the late summer of 1940.  He was a member of the Sumter County Club and remained on campus for two years before transferring, in the midst of World War II, to the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland.  At Annapolis, Moise played soccer on the Academy’s plebe, junior varsity, and varsity squads and, despite “some worry” during his plebe year, handled the academic rigors of a midshipman.  The Lucky Bag, the Academy’s yearbook, noted that Moise’s “encounters with the Executive Department,” which meted out disciplinary corrections to midshipmen, “were fewer than average due to two years of previous experience at Clemson College.”  Moise, a member of the Academy’s Class of 1946, actually graduated in June 1945.  Due to the war, the entirety of  the midshipmen’s junior year was removed from the curriculum.

McFaddin MoiseMoise was immediately assigned to a minesweeper serving in Japanese waters.  After the war’s conclusion, as the Navy reduced its strength, Moise was put in command of the ship for its return voyage to Charleston Navy Base.  Following an assignment in underwater research at Hampton, Virginia, Moise requested and was granted a transfer to the Navy’s aviation arm.  On December 21, 1948, Moise married Betty Garris of Andrews.

Upon completion of flight training, Moise reported to Chincoteague Naval Air Station, Virginia as part of the Atlantic Fleet.  He was next ordered to Pensacola, Florida for jet training.  Then came an assignment to the Navy’s flight testing facility at Patuxent River Naval Air Station in Maryland.

On Wednesday, February 4, 1953, Lieutenant Moise and Aviation Machinist James Vaughn climbed into an AJ-2 Savage for a Navy bombersroutine armaments test.  The Savage was a medium bomber designed to carry atomic bombs from the decks of Navy aircraft carriers.  As such, it was at the time of its development the heaviest aircraft to operate from a carrier.  It was powered by two wing-mounted piston engines plus a turbojet incorporated into the rear of the fuselage.

Upon take off, Moise’s aircraft climbed 200 feet into the air and was then struck by a “mechanical failure.”  The plane crashed into Chesapeake Bay killing both Moise and Vaughn.  Moise was buried in the family plot in the Sumter Cemetery.  He was survived by his wife, son  McFaddin, Jr. then two-and-a-half, daughter Mary Frances, eight months, his parents, four brothers, and a sister.

McFaddin Moise grave stoneFor more information about Lieutenant Moise McFaddin see:

https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/scroll/mcfaddin-moise/

For additional information about Clemson University’s Scroll of Honor visit:

https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/

Scroll of Honor – Henry Milton Laye, Jr.

Rainbow Warrior

Written by: Kelly Durham

Like the other members of his Class of 1944, Henry Milton Laye, Jr., a mechanical engineering major from Seneca, had his collegiate career interrupted by orders from the War Department.  All junior cadets and underclassmen were sent to basic training.  Those like Henry Laye, who demonstrated military aptitude, were subsequently ordered to officers’ candidate schools to become the junior leaders of the still expanding Army.  Henry Laye would soon be assigned to one of the Army’s storied divisions, the 42nd Infantry.

In 1917, an Army major named Douglas MacArthur suggested the creation of a new division composed of National Guard units from several states.  The resulting organization, MacArthur explained, would “stretch over the whole country like a rainbow.”  The new division, the 42nd Infantry, became known as the “Rainbow Division.”  When the 42nd was reactivated for service in World War II, Army officials honored its legacy by filling its ranks with men from all forty-eight states.  Henry Laye was one of the South Carolinians assigned to the Rainbow Division’s 232nd Infantry Regiment.

The division trained for its eventual combat deployment at Camp Gruber, Oklahoma.  The division arrived at Marseille, France on December 8-9, 1944 and was under the command of General Alexander Patch’s 7th Army.  On Christmas Eve, the division relieved the 36th Infantry Division, entering combat in the vicinity of Strasbourg, the French city resting on the west bank of the Rhine River directly across from Germany. Most of the action at that moment was farther north, where what would become known as the Battle of the Bulge was raging.  Before long, the desperate Germans, formerly masters of Europe but now reeling from the Anglo-American offensive in the west and the Soviet onslaught from the east, would attempt yet another counter-offensive, Operation Northwind.

By early January, Laye’s 232nd Infantry Regiment was stretched to the limit, defending a front thirty-three miles long.  On January 5, as French troops were moving into the line to relieve the cold, weary Americans in Strasbourg, the Germans attacked.  Enemy infantry and armor, ferried across the Rhine, overwhelmed the thinly held American lines resulting in the capture of more than eleven hundred American soldiers.  Aggressive counterattacks and assistance from the neighboring 314th Infantry Regiment eventually repulsed the German attack.

Ten days later, the elements of the 232nd Regiment, including Laye’s platoon from K Company, were occupying French towns on the west bank of the Rhine River when Germans from the 7th Parachute Division attacked.  In three days of attacks and counterattacks in the cold, snowy villages and woodlands along the river, the Germans were driven off, but the regiment took many casualties, including Laye.

Second Lieutenant Laye was awarded the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.  He was buried in the Ardennes American Military Cemetery in Belgium.

For more information about Henry Milton Laye, Jr. see:

https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/scroll/henry-milton-laye-jr/

For additional information about Clemson University’s Scroll of Honor visit:

https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/

Scroll of Honor – Malcolm Brodie Edens

Conflict and Confusion

Written by: Kelly Durham

We know precious little about Malcolm Brodie Edens, a member of Clemson’s Class of 1947.  The 1939 Taps lists him as a member of Company C, 1st Battalion, 1st Regiment of the Corps of Cadets, but no picture identified as Edens is included in the annual.  Edens was among that large group of Clemson cadets whose educations were interrupted by World War II.  In Edens’s case, the interruption was voluntary.  Following stints at Presbyterian College and then Clemson, Edens dropped out of school in October 1941, even before the United States was dragged into the war.  Conflicting accounts of Edens’s history pop up at this point.  Although his home was in Pumpkintown in Pickens County, one account shows Edens enlisting in Miami, Florida while another places his enlistment at Fort McPherson, Georgia.  Regardless of the location, Edens volunteered for the Army Air Force and was accepted into the aviation cadet program.

Edens would eventually be assigned to the 503rd Fighter Squadron flying escort and strafing missions from RAF Fowlmere just south of Cambridge, England.  On November 26, 1944, while piloting a P-51 Mustang fighter, Captain Edens shot down two German FW-190s in aerial combat southeast of Dümmer Lake, near Hanover, Germany.  Edens would survive the battle and the war.  He returned to Clemson and resumed his studies, graduating with a degree in dairy science on June 8, 1947.

18th Wing Insignia

The Korean War erupted with a surprise attack by Communist North Korean forces in June 1950.  Edens had made the transition from the Army Air Force to the Air Force and was assigned to the 18th Fighter Bomber Wing.  Here again, Edens’s record becomes confused.  Rather than flying above the battlefield, Edens was fighting on it, serving as a forward air controller alongside Army ground forces along with radio operator Sergeant Philip Tilch.  In late November, the unit Edens and Tilch were supporting was in danger of being overrun by North Korean troops.  The two evaded the enemy until their capture on November 30.  Without food or water, Edens and Tilch were forced to march fifteen miles north in frigid weather.  Suffering from severely frostbitten hands and feet, Edens was no longer able to walk.  His captors left him in a roadside hut along with ten other prisoners.

Post-war debriefings from repatriated prisoners offer conflicting details of Edens’s fate. Lieutenant Colonel Gerald Brown, also a prisoner of war, said that he had been told that Edens died from malnutrition and gangrene in February 1951 near Kunry.   Captain William McTaggart, Jr., was told that Edens died earlier, on December 22.  Major Roy Gamling reported that he last saw Edens on December 10 or 11 and that Edens was in such poor condition and excruciating pain that he did not believe he could long survive.

In 1951, a newly captured US officer arrived in the prisoner of war camp holding First Lieutenant William Funchess, Clemson Class of 1948.  The officer asked if there were any prisoners there from Clemson.  He told Funchess that Edens had died on the march north and that he had removed the class ring from Edens’s finger with the intent of eventually returning the ring to Edens’s family.  “With sincere apologies,” Funchess recalled, “this POW officer explained that a Communist soldier had confiscated the ring, and it was probably lost forever somewhere in North Korea or China.”  As was Malcolm Edens.

Subsequently promoted, Major Edens was never reported by the North Koreans as a prisoner of war and his remains were never recovered.  He remains one of the 7,841 Korean veterans still missing in action.

Over the course of two wars, Major Edens was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star, Air Medal with 8 Oak Leaf Clusters, Purple Heart, Prisoner of War Medal, Korean Service Medal, United Nations Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Korean Presidential Unit Citation, and Republic of Korea War Service Medal.  He is memorialized at the Courts of the Missing, National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Honolulu, Hawaii and at the Oolenoy Baptist Church Cemetery in Pumpkintown.

For more information on Major Malcolm Brodie Edens see:

https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/scroll/malcomb-brodie-edens/

For additional information about Clemson University’s Scroll of Honor visit:

https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scroll of Honor – Archibald Carlisle Dudley

Patton’s Reply

Written by: Kelly Durham

It had seemed as if the Germans were on their last legs, as if they might be defeated and the war in Europe ended by Christmas of 1944.  But the Allied offensive in Northern France was slowed by its very success; the more ground the Anglo-American forces gained, the longer their supply lines stretched and the more difficult it became to feed, fuel, and equip the advance.  First Lieutenant Archibald Carlisle Dudley of Mullins was an infantry platoon leader in the van of the Allied assault.

Dudley was a vocational agricultural education major in Clemson’s Class of 1941.  As a cadet, he participated in the campus chapter of Future Farmers of America and in the Dillon County Club.  He marched with the Pershing Rifles drill team and attended ROTC summer training at Fort McClellan, Alabama where he qualified as a Marksman on the firing range.  Dudley, who “was possessed of a sterling character and a wonderful personality,” married Ruby Allen of Walhalla and they had a daughter, Jeanne.

Dudley shipped overseas in October 1944.  He was assigned to Company C of the 357th Infantry Regiment, 90th Infantry Division.  The 90th was one of the divisions of General George Patton’s Third Army, which by the late autumn of 1944 had pushed the Germans back to their own territory.

The 357th was pulled out of the line and enjoyed a turkey dinner for Thanksgiving while in northern France.  Soon thereafter, the regiment moved by truck to Colmen, just west of the French-German border.  On Sunday November 26, the regiment attacked Furweiler, a small German town just east of the border.  During the attack, the 357th came under fire from artillery emplacements on the Siegfried Line—the West Wall—a string of heavy defensive fortifications constructed on the east bank of the Saar River and designed to prevent the invasion of Germany from the west.  It was apparent that the regiment would have to clear German forces from the area west of the river and then cross the Saar and assault the Siegfried Line itself.

The 357th launched its assault crossing of the Saar River in the early hours of Wednesday, December 6.  During this action, First Lieutenant Dudley was reported missing in action.  Dudley’s family, despite appeals to the Red Cross, could obtain no further information about its loved one.

When the war in Europe ended, General Patton was ordered back to the United States for leave with his family and also for public appearances to rally a war-weary public to continue to support the unfinished fight in the Pacific.  Desperate for information about her missing brother, Nancy Dudley wrote to General Patton.  In late August, Miss Dudley received a personal reply from the general.

According to General Patton, First Lieutenant Dudley and his platoon set out in boats to cross the Saar River at 0410 hours on December 6.  Conditions were difficult at best, with the river swollen by seasonal rains and the temperatures very cold.  Upon reaching the east bank of the Saar near Pachten, Germany at approximately 0425, Dudley was struck in the left shoulder and chest by enemy small arms fire.  A medic administered first aid, but the fire from enemy pillboxes was so intense and the battle so “vicious” that Dudley could not be evacuated. According to Patton, at 0630 the area in which Dudley remained came under “a violent enemy artillery barrage.”  Patton reported that the area was held until December 22, but that for the entire period it was under German small arms as well as indirect fire.  As a result, Dudley “was among those many brave soldiers who were buried at night without lights or opportunity to read identification tags.”  Patton went on to assure Miss Dudley that “there was always a chaplain to speak the last words.”  He concluded his letter by congratulating her “on having a brother who did his duty even unto death.”

First Lieutenant Archibald Carlisle Dudley was awarded the Purple Heart.  He was survived by his wife Ruby, his daughter Jeanne, his mother, and three sisters.  His body was recovered and buried at the Lorraine American Military Cemetery in France and is memorialized at Miller’s United Methodist Church Cemetery in Mullins.

For more information about Archibald Carlisle Dudley see:

https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/scroll/archibald-carlisle-dudley/

For additional information about Clemson University’s Scroll of Honor visit:

https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scroll of Honor – Albert Powhatan King, Jr.

Epinal

Written by: Kelly Durham

On a plateau 100 feet above the Moselle River near the village of Dinozé in northeastern France, rows of white markers standAlbert King, Jr. vigilant witness to the sacrifice of American lives in World War II’s struggle against tyranny.  More than 5,200 American service members are buried on the pristine acres of the Epinal American Cemetery, including Albert Powhatan King, Jr. of Ninety Six.

Bill King majored in agronomy and was selected for membership in Kappa Alpha Sigma, the Clemson chapter of the American Society of Agronomy.  He attended ROTC summer camp at Fort McClellan, Alabama and served as a second lieutenant in Company B, 1st Battalion, 1st Regiment in the Cadet Brigade.

Following his graduation on June 2, 1941, King reported for active duty at Fort Jackson and was assigned to the 8th Infantry Division.  During his time there, he married the former Bessie Davis of Columbia.  In 1943, their daughter Nancy was born.

King was transferred to Camp Wolters, Texas and Fort Benning, Georgia before shipping overseas as a replacement officer in September 1944.  Upon reaching France, King was assigned to the 313th Infantry Regiment of the 79th Infantry Division.  The division was then engaged in severe fighting in the Forêt de Parroy in northeastern France west of Strasbourg.  The 79th was attached to the US Seventh Army which had come ashore across France’s Mediterranean coast in August and attacked northward.  Now, the Seventh, which included General Philippe LeClerc’s French 2nd Armored Division, was closing in on Strasbourg, which had been occupied by the Germans for more than four years.

On Sunday, November 19, the 79th broke through to Sarrebourg, just 40 miles west of Strasbourg.  Allied artillery overwhelmed German defenders, opening the road to Strasbourg.  As the Germans withdrew, the 79th moved in.  Four days later, as King’s Company C of the 313th Infantry Regiment enjoyed its Thanksgiving lunch, orders came to move into an area that the regiment believed was secure.  The company moved out in a convoy with Captain King guiding the way in the lead jeep.  As King stood to direct his company, a German sniper shot him through the forehead. King exclaimed, “Oh my God, men!”—and died.  He was buried with full military honors the following day at Epinal.

Albert Powhatan King, Jr. was awarded the Purple Heart.  He was survived by his wife, their daughter Nancy, his father, four sisters, and his brother Harry, a member of Clemson’s Class of 1944 who was then a lieutenant serving at Fort Benning, Georgia.  King’s Clemson story did not end with his death.  His former Clemson roommate, James MacMillan, married his widow Bess after the war.  King’s daughter Nancy was one of the first women accepted to Clemson, though the college’s lack of a nursing curriculum led her to enroll elsewhere.  In all more than a dozen of King’s relatives subsequently attended Clemson.

The cemetery at Epinal is poignant memorial to the spirit and sacrifice of the young men who gave their lives to liberate France, defeat fascism, and restore freedom to western Europe.

For more information about Albert Powhatan King see:

https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/scroll/albert-powhatan-king/

For additional information about Clemson University’s Scroll of Honor visit:

https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scroll of Honor – Earl Pinckney Furman, Jr.

Lone Ranger

Written by: Kelly Durham

They called themselves the “Long Rangers” because of the vast distances so many of their missions covered.  Flying over the trackless Pacific Ocean, the missions of the 370th Bomb Group lasted as long as seventeen hours.  Terrifying minutes of action dodging enemy anti-aircraft fire and fighter planes were sandwiched between tedious hours spent droning to and from the target area.  Corporal Earl Pinckney Furman, Jr. was a crew member aboard a 370th Group B-24 heavy bomber.

Furman came to Clemson in 1938 from his hometown of Allendale.  A general studies major, he was assigned to E Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Regiment of the Cadet Brigade.  Furman remained at Clemson for two years before transferring to Wofford College.  He left Wofford in March 1943 and volunteered for the Army Air Force.

By this point in the war, Army training facilities were hitting their stride, taking in young men and turning out the trained soldiers and air crewmen needed to prosecute a global war.  Furman was ordered to San Antonio, Texas and then to Sioux Falls, South Dakota for aerial radio operator training.  Following aerial gunnery training at Yuma, Arizona, Furman was awarded aircrew wings.  He shipped out to the Pacific Theater in September 1944 and was assigned to the Long Rangers.

Furman joined the crew of “Tillie,” a B-24D heavy bomber which he served as radio operator and waist gunner.   Furman’s unit, the 372nd Bomb Squadron, was operating from Noemfoor, a small island off the northern coast of New Guinea.  On November 4, Furman was seriously injured in an aircraft accident that resulted in the scrapping of “Tillie.”  Furman’s injuries were significant enough to land him in the hospital, where he died three days later.

Furman was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart.  After the war, his remains were returned to Allendale where he was buried in the Swallow Savannah Cemetery.  He was survived by his parents and sister.

For additional information about Earl Pinckney Furman, Jr. see:

https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/scroll/earl-pinckney-furman-jr/

For more information about Clemson University’s Scroll of Honor visit:

https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scroll of Honor – Rudolf Anderson, Jr.

“The Martyr Who Died for Us All”

Written by: Kelly Durham

Of the nearly five hundred names listed on Clemson University’s Scroll of Honor, none has been more widely reported than Rudolf Anderson, Jr.  Anderson, a 1948 graduate in textile management, was the sole casualty in the Cuban Missile Crisis which pushed the United States and Soviet Union to the brink of nuclear war sixty years ago this week.

Rudy Anderson grew up in Greenville and showed an interest in flying even as a toddler.  When bad weather forced an airplane to make an emergency landing near the Anderson’s home, the family took in the pilot for the night.  The next morning, the flyer took three-year-old Rudy to see his plane, delighting the child.  Throughout his early childhood, Rudy built model airplanes.  He even attempted to fly himself, leaping from a window—and ending up in the hospital with a broken arm.  It wouldn’t be his last wingless flight—or his last crash landing.

Rudy was a member of Buncombe Street Methodist Church and was an Eagle Scout.  He served as manager on Greenville High School’s 1943 state championship football team.  Rudy graduated from Greenville High School in 1944 and enrolled at Clemson College.

At Clemson, Rudy earned academic honors and participated in intramural sports.  As a cadet, he was a member of the Executive Sergeants Club, and the Senior Platoon, composed of the most precise senior cadets.  The Senior Platoon drilled each morning and evening and highlighted the annual Mothers’ Day parade on campus.  It also marched at halftime during Clemson football games.  Anderson was among the first Clemson cadets to participate in the newly-formed Air Force ROTC program, attending summer training at Keesler Field, Mississippi.

Just three months short of graduation, Rudy embarked on another wingless flight.  According to The Tiger, Rudy was attempting to catch a pigeon that had flown into the second barracks.  Rudy chased the bird down the third floor hallway and was unable to stop when it flew out the window.  Rudy went out the window as well, bouncing off the eaves over the entrance of the barracks, breaking his fall, and saving him from more serious injuries.  Despite a fractured pelvis, Anderson recovered quickly and graduated on schedule.

Anderson received a commission as a second lieutenant in the Air Force, but he was not ordered to active duty as the military was still declining in size from its World War II peak.  Instead, Anderson took a job with Hudson Mill in Greenville.

Anderson was building a career in textiles when, in June 1951, he was called into the Air Force.  The Korean War was escalating and the United States was determined to hold the line there against Communist aggression.  Anderson was assigned to Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida for nine months. Before departing for his next assignment, Rudy met Jane Corbett with whom he would correspond over the next three years as his Air Force career carried him halfway around the world.  In August 1952, Anderson began flight training at San Marcos, Texas.  He was selected for single engine jet training and sent to Webb Air Rudy AndersonForce Base in Texas where he earned his wings in February 1953.  He was next sent to Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada where he learned to fly the F-86 Sabre, the Air Force’s primary air combat fighter of the Korean War.

In July 1953, the Korean War ended in a truce, but the need for intelligence on both Chinese and Soviet intentions in the region drove the United States to conduct reconnaissance flights.  Anderson was assigned to the 15th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron at Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.  Flying specially-equipped RF-86 jets, Anderson and his comrades flew over Chinese and Soviet territory at high altitudes, their weapons replaced with cameras.  In nearly two years in Korea, Anderson was twice awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

On a trip home before his next duty assignment, Anderson proposed to Jane Corbett and they were married in November 1955 near Larson Air Force Base in Oregon.  Rudy’s prowess as a reconnaissance pilot was well-known and, following attendance at an Air Force school, he soon found himself back in Nevada at desolate Groom Lake, a dry lakebed known as “The Ranch.”  Here, Anderson would learn to fly the secret U-2, an unarmed, very high altitude reconnaissance aircraft developed by the CIA.

In March 1957, Jane gave birth to Rudolf Anderson, III.  He would be followed by a brother, James, two years later.  Anderson meanwhile was flying operational missions in the U-2 as a pilot in the 4080th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing headquartered at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas.  By 1962, Major Anderson and his colleague Major Richard Heyser were considered the Air Force’s most accomplished U-2 pilots.

Overflights of areas of interest were nothing new.  Anderson had flown over the territory of other nations while in Korea.  The United States had famously lost a U-2 over the Soviet Union in 1960.  That aircraft had been downed by surface-to-air missiles, its pilot captured and put on trial.  U-2s had provided aerial photographic intelligence from Cuba before the ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion.  So, when temperatures began to heat up over the possible installation of Soviet missiles in Cuba in the fall of 1962, it was only natural that Anderson, Heyser and the other U-2 pilots of the 4080th would be called upon.

U-2 flights over Cuba in the late summer had noted disturbing build-ups of Soviet installations and equipment.  The Kennedy administration was torn between the need for more frequent reconnaissance flights and the fear that such flights would provoke a response from the Cubans—or worse from the Soviets.  Nonetheless, periodic overflights continued.  Then, on October 14, Major Heyser brought back disturbing images.
Rudy's U-2CIA photo interpreters identified Soviet SS-4 medium-range ballistic missiles being installed near San Cristobal, Cuba.  In addition, Soviet surface-to-air missile defenses were being set up, though neither weapons system was as yet operational.    These discoveries triggered the Cuban Missile Crisis—and would cost Rudy Anderson’s life.

Over the following thirteen days, the United States increased the number of U-2 reconnaissance flights over Cuba despite a prediction from a CIA analyst that there was a one-in-six chance of losing an aircraft.  Anderson and Heyser flew again on October 15.  On October 17, six U-2s flew the length of Cuba from west to east ensuring nearly complete photographic coverage of the island.  Beginning on the 18th, Anderson’s routine was to fly every other day, but the weather soon disrupted this schedule.  Anderson encountered poor visibility due to cloud cover on October 23.  The approach of Hurricane Ella cancelled missions scheduled for the 24th and 26th and only one mission was flown on October 25.

The October 25 mission, flown by Captain Gerald McIlmoyle, coincided with the high drama of a diplomatic showdown at the United Nations.  US Ambassador Adlai Stevenson and Soviet Ambassador Valerian Zorin engaged in a heated debate. After repeated Soviet denials of the presence of offensive weapons in Cuba, Stevenson shared the incriminating photos taken by the U-2 pilots.  As Stevenson and Zorin fought with words and pictures, McIlmoyle was battling for survival.

McIlmoyle was nearing the end of his mission, much of which had been obscured by clouds.  As he passed over a surface-to-air missile site near Banes, the weather cleared.  Suddenly, McIlmoyle’s yellow radar warning light illuminated, alerting him that his aircraft was being pinged by enemy radar.  As McIlmoyle turned his aircraft, he spotted the contrails of two missiles streaking toward him.  He maneuvered to avoid the missiles and saw them explode about a mile away.  At this point, he was already on his outbound leg and so he continued on to his base in Florida where he landed and reported his encounter.  McIlmoyle claimed that when he landed, an Air Force general met him at his aircraft and told him that he had not been fired on and that he was not to report the missile attack.  McIlmoyle, who would reach the rank of brigadier general, disregarded the order and told his fellow pilots of the attack.

On October 27, with the world edging toward nuclear disaster and leaders in Washington and Moscow pondering their next steps, Rudy Anderson prepared for his final flight.  Four flights had been planned for the day, but the weather was again poor.  Three of the flights were cancelled, but Anderson elected to go forward with his mission because so much of McIlmoyle’s coverage had been obscured by clouds and the need for fresh intelligence was critical.

Anderson awoke early, ate a high protein breakfast, and donned his pressure suit.  Two hours before his scheduled takeoff time, he began breathing pure oxygen.  Anderson climbed into the U-2’s narrow cockpit and with the help of his check pilot, completed a series of checklists.  He shook hands with his check pilot, and gave a thumbs up as the canopy was closed.  At 9:09 a.m., Anderson’s U-2 streaked down the runway of McCoy Air Force Base and climbed into the Florida sky.

Anderson leveled off at 72,000 feet and headed toward Cuba on what would be his sixth mission of the Crisis.  But on this day, there was a new factor in play that had not been present on his previous missions.  The night before, Cuban leader Fidel Castro had ordered the island’s air defenses to fully operational status.  Castro expected an American invasion, to include tactical aircraft, and he had placed his defense forces on alert.  Soviet officers manning the SA-2 air defense missiles were tracking Anderson’s flight on radar and growing more concerned as he got closer to the medium-range missile sites they were guarding.

Soviet General S. N. Grechko was commanding the surface-to-air missiles.  As Anderson turned over Guantanamo Bay to begin a westward track over Cuba, Grechko feared the U-2 was completing its mission and preparing to return to Florida with potentially damning intelligence photographs.  After repeated requests for guidance from Soviet leadership resulted in no response, and with Castro’s orders no doubt on his mind, Grechko decided to take action.  He ordered the 1st Battalion of the 507th Anti-Aircraft Rocket Regiment at Banes to fire.

At 1019, two SA-2 missiles roared off their launch rails and streaked skyward.  Shrapnel from at least one of the exploding missiles pierced the cockpit of Anderson’s U-2 and punctured his pressure suit.  The resulting instant loss of pressure at that high altitude killed Anderson immediately.  The aircraft began a long spiral to the ground, crashing near the missile battery that had brought it down.

When the news reached the White House, the president’s brother Robert Kennedy would later write, “the whole course of

Wreaked Plane

Soviet soldiers examine the wreckage of Major Anderson’s U-2.

events” changed.  There was a feeling “that the bridges to escape [the Crisis] were crumbling.”

But instead of resulting in additional escalation, the death of Major Anderson had a sobering effect.  Even the bellicose Soviet leader Khruschev recognized that without immediate action the Crisis would spin out of control.  Khruschev’s son, Sergei, recalled that Anderson’s death was “the very moment—not before or after—that father felt the situation was slipping out of his control.”

This critical moment compelled the Americans and Soviets to reach an agreement to resolve the Crisis.  The Soviets agreed to remove their offensive missiles from Cuba in exchange for a pledge from President Kennedy not to invade the island.  In addition, Kennedy privately agreed to a later withdrawal of American missiles from Turkey.

Rudolf Anderson’s sacrifice, just as the Crisis appeared headed toward disaster, provided the sobering impulse to find a compromise.  His death likely saved millions of lives. CBS News commentator Eric Sevareid described Anderson as “the martyr who died for us all.”

Rudolf Anderson was survived by his wife Jane, sons Rudolf III age 5 and James age 3.  A daughter, Robyn, was born seven months after his death.  At the direction of President Kennedy, Anderson was awarded the first Air Force Cross.

Following the Crisis, Anderson’s remains were returned to the United States.  He is buried at Woodlawn Memorial Park in Greenville.  A memorial to Major Anderson was established in Greenville’s Cleveland Park.

For additional information about Major Rudolf Anderson, Jr. see:

https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/scroll/rudolf-rudy-anderson-jr/

For more information about Clemson University’s Scroll of Honor visit:

https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/

See also:

Alone, Unarmed, and Unafraid Over Cuba: The Story of Major Rudy Anderson, by Major Geoffrey Cameron, Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, 2017, https://apps.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/1039301.pdf.

Thirteen Days: A Memoir of the Cuban Missile Crisis, by Robert F. Kennedy, W. W. Norton & Co., New York, 1969.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scroll of Honor – Frank DuBose

The Longest Battle

Written by: Kelly Durham

In the autumn of 1944, after its rapid sweep across France, the American Army reached the German frontier.  Confronted with the well-prepared and long-established fortifications of the Siegfried Line or Westwall, Germany’s answer to France’s Maginot Line, the Army began what would become its longest battle of World War II, the Huertgen Forest campaign.  The 112th Infantry Regiment was among the units committed to the Huertgen battle and Frank Shirer DuBose was one of its officers.

Frank DuBose grew up in Camden, graduating from high school there before enrolling at Clemson College as a member of the Class of 1942.  He attended Clemson for three years, majoring in vocational agriculture education.  He was a member of Chi Kappa Chi, the social organization composed of cadets from Kershaw County, serving as the group’s secretary-treasurer.  He was also a member of the campus chapter of Future Farmers of America.

Men of the 28th Infantry Division march through Paris on August 29, 1944.

After DuBose left Clemson, he took a job teaching at Varnville High School.  Called to active duty in September 1942, DuBose was ordered to Fort Benning, Georgia where he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the infantry.  He was assigned to the 112th Infantry Regiment, part of the 28th Infantry Division.  In April 1943, Frank married the former Betty Rentz of Varnville.  In October, the 28th Infantry Division shipped out, landing in the south of Wales where it continued to train for the coming invasion of Europe.

On July 22, 1944, the 28th Infantry Division landed in Normandy and was quickly committed to Operation Cobra, the American effort to breakout of its beachhead.  The division pushed east through the difficult bocage country and a little more than a month later participated in the liberation of Paris.  The 28th was one of the American divisions selected to parade down the Champs-Élysées on August 29.  Despite the joy of the Parisiennes, for the Americans the fighting was far from over.

After a short rest to receive replacements and new equipment, the division moved forward again, heading toward Germany’s Westwall.  Elements of the division crossed the Our River from Luxembourg becoming the first Allied unit to enter Germany.  Reaching the mutually supporting fortifications of the Westwall brought the 28th’s advance to a halt.  Over the next three months, according to the 28th’s history, “the division accomplished little” in what developed into the Army’s longest continuous battle of the war.  Fighting in harsh weather in the heavily-forested region against a foe that was firing from hardened positions—and which in addition was now battling to defend its homeland—DuBose’s regiment suffered heavy casualties, at one point reduced to only three hundred men.

On November 2, DuBose went forward to scout German positions and target them for US artillery units.  He was accompanied by his radioman, Anthony Grasso, a nineteen-year-old private from Massachusetts.  During their reconnaissance mission, Grasso remained at DuBose’s side carrying the 40-pound radio that enabled the lieutenant to relay the coordinates of the enemy’s positions to the American guns.

Seventy-six years later, Grasso recalled DuBose’s final moments in an interview with The Boston Globe.

As the pair moved through an open field, DuBose believed he saw enemy soldiers in the woods ahead.

“The last words I heard from him were, ‘I need to call in. Give me the phone,’” Grasso said. “He was picking up the phone and ‘Boom!’ I went flying in the air, the blood spilling out of my neck. The next thing I know, I woke up two weeks later in a hospital in Paris.”

DuBose had turned to Grasso’s back, reaching for the phone when the blast threw the lieutenant 30 feet in the air. But at the instant of explosion, he had provided enough of a buffer to protect Grasso, who still carries shrapnel in his head and neck.

Frank Shirer DuBose was awarded the Purple Heart.  He was survived by his wife, his mother, and two sisters.  In 1949, his remains were returned to Camden.

Over Memorial Day weekend in 2021, Grasso, at age 96, visited DuBose’s grave in the Quaker Cemetery in Camden—two wartime comrades reunited in spirit.

For more information about Frank Shirer DuBose see:

https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/scroll/frank-shirer-dubose/

For additional information about Clemson University’s Scroll of Honor visit:

https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/

See also the May 29, 2021 The Boston Globe article by Brian MacQuarrie.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scroll of Honor – Stephen Randolph Hilton

Missed Rendezvous

Written by: Kelly Durham

On Wednesday morning, October 3, 1945, Rebecca Lane Horton and her sister-in-law Jennie Horton departed Clemson for the long drive to Fayetteville, North Carolina.  There, they intended to rendezvous with Rebecca’s husband, Clinton Childs Horton, Jr., then serving as a doctor in the Naval Reserve.  The reunion never took place.

Clinton Horton, Jr. was the son of Dr. and Mrs. Clinton C. Horton, Sr. of Pendleton.  He attended Clemson College for two years as a pre-med major and was assigned to Company M of the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Regiment of the Cadet Brigade. He graduated from Emory University’s Medical School and interned at Charleston Hospital. Horton entered active duty in June 1945 while the world was still at war.

Horton was ordered to Camp Lejeune, the Marine Corps’ sprawling training base near Jacksonville, North Carolina.  On the night of October 3, Lieutenant (JG) Horton left Camp Lejeune for the two and a half hour drive to Fayetteville to meet his wife and sister.  At approximately 10 p.m., Horton was killed instantly in a single-car accident.  He was believed to have been traveling alone at the time of the crash.

Authorities from Camp Lejeune notified Horton’s family of the tragedy the next morning.  Lieutenant (JG) Horton was survived by his parents, his wife, his sister, and brother.  He is buried in Pendleton Cemetery.

For more information on Clinton Childs Horton, Jr. see:

https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/scroll/clinton-childs-horton-jr/

For additional information on Clemson University’s Scroll of Honor visit:

https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scroll of Honor – Stephen Randolph Hilton

The Deadlier Opponent

Written by: Kelly Durham

Claude Rothell, Jr. came to Clemson College from Saluda County as a member of the Class of 1943.  His class was the last cohort to complete its academic career until after the war.  Following commencement, Claude and his classmates headed directly to active duty, many of them funneling into officers’ candidate schools.  Most of the other boys on campus were sent to basic training, their school days suspended for the duration.

Claude made the most of his four years as a cadet, engaging in academic, social, and athletic pursuits.  An animal husbandry major, Claude served as executive officer of  Company G, 1st Battalion, 1st Regiment of Clemson’s Cadet Brigade.  He was a member of Alpha Chi Psi, a social organization, and the Saluda-Lexington Club.  He served as the vice president of the Animal Husbandry Club and was a member of the Block “C” Club.

Claude was a four-year member of the Tiger football team, spanning the transition from head coach Jess Neely to head coach Frank Howard.  Claude’s senior campaign achieved mixed results as the Tigers finished with a 3-6-1 record.  Claude, at 176 pounds, played in the backfield on both offense and defense.  The Tigers’ first contest of the 1942 season inaugurated the campus’s new Memorial Stadium with a 6-4 win over Presbyterian College.  The Tigers triumphed against South Carolina, 18-6, in the annual Big Thursday game, which was the Tigers’ 200th all-time victory.  The Tigers closed their home season with a 12-7 win over Furman.  In a sign of the times, Clemson also took the field against a team from Jacksonville Naval Air Station, losing 24-6.  At the end of the season, Rothell and his teammates must have turned their thoughts toward the deadlier opponents that awaited overseas.

After graduation, Rothell was ordered to Fort Benning, Georgia to attend officer candidate school.  He completed his training in December and was soon assigned to the 48th Infantry Battalion of the 7th Armored Division.  In April 1944, Rothell shipped overseas.

On August 13-14, the 7th Armored Division landed in Normandy and was assigned to General George Patton’s Third Army.  The division battled its way into France, attacking German forces defending the city of Chartres and then proceeding to liberate Dreux.  On August 24, the division liberated Melun, south of Paris, where it crossed the Seine River.  With the German resistance weakening, the division raced ahead liberating the storied Great War battlefields of  Château-Thierry and then Verdun on August 31.

The 7th Armored halted for rest, maintenance, and refueling at the beginning of September, but was soon back on the offensive.  In France, one river led to another and on September 6, the division crossed the Moselle near Metz. Enemy fortifications and unfavorable terrain made the crossing untenable.  In mid-September, the 7th Armored joined with the 5th Infantry Division to expand a new bridgehead over the Moselle farther to the south near Arnaville.

Second Lieutenant Rothell was killed in action in France on September 14, 1944.  Ironically, he fell on the same day as his Clemson classmate Henry Hahn, who was assigned to one of the 7th Armored Division’s tank battalions.

Claude Rothell, Jr. was survived by his parents, his wife Margaret, and two brothers, one of whom was in the Navy’s V-12 officer training program.  He was awarded the Purple Heart and buried at the Lorraine American Military Cemetery.

For more information about Claude Rothell, Jr. see:

https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/scroll/claude-rothell-jr/

For additional information about Clemson University’s Scroll of Honor visit:

https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scroll of Honor – Stephen Randolph Hilton

Attack on Pagan

Written by: Kelly Durham

In 1937, the Imperial Japanese Navy established a garrison at the recently constructed airfield on Pagan Island, one of the volcanic islands in the Marianas chain.  The island was part of a League of Nations mandate granted to Japan after its participation in the Great War as a member of the victorious Allied powers.  That same year, Louis Gray Clark of Walhalla enrolled in Clemson College.

Louis Clark was a textile engineering major and was assigned to Company A, First Battalion, 2nd Regiment of the cadet brigade.  Clark left campus after his freshman year.

When World War II broke out, Clark volunteered for the Army Air Force.  He was selected for flight instruction and then funneled into fighter pilot training.  After earning his second lieutenant’s commission and his pilot’s wings, Clark was assigned to the 73rd Fighter Squadron of the 318th Fighter Group.

The 73rd had been mostly wiped out during Japan’s December 7, 1941 attacks on Hawaii. It was reconstituted in May 1942 and deployed to Midway Island after the Battle of Midway.  At the beginning of 1943, the squadron returned to Hawaii as part of the territory’s air defense force.

Newly equipped with P-47D Thunderbolt fighters, the squadron deployed to Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands.  It worked closely with Marine ground forces pioneering techniques in close air support of infantry.  The squadron was the first to use napalm.  On Saipan, the squadron achieved the rare distinction as one of the few Army Air Force units to be attacked directly by enemy ground forces in June 1944.  After sustaining modest casualties, the pilots and ground crew took a crash course in infantry tactics.

On August 22, 1944, Second Lieutenant Clark was ordered on a mission to attack the Japanese airfield on Pagan Island, some two hundred miles north of Saipan.  He was slotted to fly as wingman to First Lieutenant Earl Harbour.  The flight departed Saipan’s East Field and flew north.  At about 1030 hours, Harbour completed a strafing pass from east-to-west over the Pagan airfield.  When he looked back to check on his wingman, he saw Clark’s P-47 go into the water.  Harbour saw Clark, under a parachute, drop into the sea only a quarter of a mile from the west-southwest shore of the island.  Harbour orbited his wingman’s position and observed Clark floating in the water with his life vest inflated.  Shortly thereafter, Harbour lost sight of Clark.  Additional P-47s joined the search, as did a Navy PBM rescue plane.  The search continued into the afternoon, but was called off at nightfall.  Because the search planes were fired upon by Pagan’s Japanese defenders, Harbour speculated that Clark had either been captured by the Japanese or killed in the water by enemy fire.  Clark was never recovered.

Second Lieutenant Louis Gray Clark was survived by his mother.  He is memorialized at the Honolulu Memorial and at Silverbrook Cemetery in Anderson.

For more information about Louis Gray Clark see:

https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/scroll/louis-gray-clark/

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scroll of Honor – Stephen Randolph Hilton

Heavy Fighting, “Light” Casualties

Written by: Kelly Durham

Newspaper headlines in August of 1968 told of more than six thousand enemy casualties over an eight day span of heavy fighting in Vietnam.  The heaviest combat occurred in the I Corps area of operations.  The 1st Marine Regiment was one of the American units engaged in this action.  Since recapturing Hue after the surprise Tet Offensive, the 1st Marines had been involved in a number of combat operations large and small.  Marine casualties were reported as “light,” but they weren’t light enough.

Stephen Randolph Hilton of Winnsboro was an economics major, a member of Kappa Sigma Nu fraternity and the Canterbury Club, the Episcopal student organization on campus. Steve Hilton was a good athlete who enjoyed baseball, football, golf and swimming.  He was also a musician, playing the piano and saxophone. While at Clemson, Hilton met Evelyn Elkin and they were married on December 27, 1966 following Steve’s graduation. His sister, Lois, remembered Steve as someone who was easy to be around and who was a lot of fun.

He was also loyal and patriotic, traits that no doubt helped steer him toward the Marine Corps.  Hilton graduated as a second lieutenant from Officer Basic Training School at Quantico, Virginia on November 1, 1967.  His cohort, Class 6-67, would send more lieutenants to battle and suffer more officers killed or wounded than any Marine basic school class since the Korean War.  One of Hilton’s classmates at Quantico was Clemson classmate Richard Kapp, Jr., who, like Steve, was bound for the 1st Marines and Vietnam.

Before shipping out to Vietnam, Steve spent Thanksgiving 1967 at home. By this time, Evelyn was pregnant and Steve was “on cloud nine,” according to his sister.  “I had a feeling it would be the last time I saw him,” Lois recalled, “but I prayed I would be wrong.”

Hilton and the 1st Marines were in the thick of the fighting during the North Vietnamese Tet Offensive in the winter of 1968.  They helped wrest control of the ancient city of Hue from the enemy.

On August 25, First Lieutenant Hilton was leading his platoon to the aid of a surrounded reconnaissance team near Gio Linh when he was struck by enemy small arms fire and killed.  His daughter, Elizabeth Anne, whom he never had a chance to hold, was two-and-a-half months old.

Hilton was awarded the Purple Heart, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, National Order of Vietnam, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation with Palm, and Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.

In addition to his wife and daughter, Hilton was survived by his parents, his sister Lois and a brother.  He is buried in Winnsboro’s Episcopal Cemetery.

For more information about Stephen Randolph Hilton see:
https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/scroll/stephen-randolph-hilton/

For additional information about Clemson University’s Scroll of Honor visit:
https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/

 

 

 

 

 

Scroll of Honor – James Crisp Akers Salter

Stormy Weather

Written by: Kelly Durham

When we think about airplane pilots and stormy weather, we often picture disaster in the skies.  James Crisp Akers Salter suffered the effects of stormy weather on terra firma.

Jimmy Salter came to Clemson from Atlanta, Georgia and majored in civil engineering.  As an upper classman, he was a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers and he also completed ROTC training held at Clemson in the summer of 1941.  That training led to his commissioning as an Army second lieutenant upon graduation in the spring of 1942.

Salter applied for service in the Army Air Force and was accepted into flight training.  After earning his pilot’s wings and qualifying to command the B-25 Mitchell medium bomber, Salter joined the 499th Bombardment Squadron , the “Bats Outta Hell,” which had been formed in Columbia.  Originally designated for the European Theater, the 499th was diverted to Australia after the successful use of medium bombers in the Battle of the Bismarck Sea.  In early June 1943, the 499th reached its combat station near Port Moresby, New Guinea.  Over the next two years, Salter flew fifty-seven combat missions, mostly bombing and strafing of Japanese installations on New Guinea and the Bismarck Archipelago.

     A 499th Bombardment Squadron B-25 with              distinctive “Bat Outta Hell” nose art.

The 499th flew missions against the Japanese Navy base at Rabaul earning a Distinguished Unit Citation.  The squadron earned a second such citation for its attacks on the Admiralty Islands.  In July 1944, the squadron moved to a new base on Biak Island in the Dutch East Indies from which it supported General MacArthur’s Southwest Pacific Campaign.  In November, Salter and the 499th moved once again, this time to a base in the Philippines from which it could support Allied operations throughout that island chain and launch attacks as far north as Formosa.

After earning an Air Medal with two oak leaf clusters and three campaign stars, flight leader Salter was finally sent back to the United States in the summer of 1945.  The Japanese had been beaten back to their home islands, but the Army was still training bomber pilots and crews for the anticipated invasion of Japan planned to begin that November.  Salter was assigned to Williams Army Airfield, about thirty miles south of Phoenix, Arizona, a key training base for multi-engine pilots.

On August 2, Captain Salter was killed when the car in which he was a passenger struck a tree which had been uprooted and flung into the road by a tornado.  He was survived by his mother, grandmother, three uncles, and an aunt.

For more information about James Crisp Akers Salter see:

https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/scroll/james-crisp-akers-salter/

For additional information about Clemson University’s Scroll of Honor visit:

https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/

 

 

Scroll of Honor – Charles Henderson Franks

Radar Training

Written by: Kelly Durham

The Allies shifted from defeat and defense to offense and victory in 1942.  Midway and North Africa had put the Japanese, Germans, and Italians on the defensive and operations in Guadalcanal and New Guinea would continue the trend into 1943.  With the American military expanding at an explosive pace, young men from all over the country were scattered at training bases all over the country.  Charles Henderson Franks, Class of 1942, was in Florida.

Franks was a general sciences major from Laurens.  He attended Clemson for only his freshman year and then continued his studies at Presbyterian College.  Franks enlisted in the Army Air Force in March 1942 and reported for training to Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama that September.  Subsequent training assignments carried him to Bennettsville and then south to Florida.

In July 1943, Franks was undergoing exacting and top secret training in the use of airborne radar at Boca Raton Army Airfield.  Franks was assigned to the 319th Air Base Squadron, a training outfit whose main mission was training Air Force personnel in the use of new radar technology.  Access to this critical system was tightly restricted and those being trained had to be both highly qualified and rigorously investigated.  In addition to classroom training, personnel had to learn to maintain and utilize radar equipment in flight.  With the growing demand for radar operators for all types of heavy and medium aircraft, Boca Raton’s field was in round-the-clock use.

Training was, in fact, heavy at large and small airfields all over the United States.  Thousands of pilots, copilots, navigators, radio operators, bombardiers, flight engineers, and gunners were learning to work together on dozens of different kinds of aircraft, from heavy bombers to single seat fighters.  The combination of aggressive, young men, sophisticated aircraft, and the hurried pace of training inevitably led to accidents.

On Wednesday, July 21, 1943, Franks was assigned to a radar operator training mission flown by Second Lieutenant Francis Van Cleave.  At 1708 hours, Van Cleave lifted off in a radar-equipped A-20 Havoc medium bomber.  He circled the field once and then landed in order to secure a loose gasoline tank cap.  At 1729, the aircraft took off again, climbing only fifteen to twenty feet before it “mushed into the ground.  In a nose up attitude, the aircraft’s tail dragged along the ground for about fifty feet, carving a groove in the sod and damaging the plane.  The airplane then climbed steeply to an altitude of two hundred to five hundred feet before rolling over and diving into the ground.  Franks, Van Cleave, and the two other crew members were killed in the crash.

Army Air Force officials recognized the hazards of flight training and though constantly striving to improve training safety, continued to accept a high accident rate.  On that single day, July 21, 1943, eighty-two aircraft training accidents were recorded at stateside military fields.  “Only” seven of these included fatalities.  Remarkably, that Wednesday’s record was an improvement over the previous day’s when eighty-three accidents had been reported.  The cost of winning the war was steep, even outside the battle zones.

Corporal Charles Henderson Franks was survived by his parents, a brother, and two sisters.  He is buried in the Laurens City Cemetery.

For more information about Charles Henderson Franks see:

https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/scroll/charles-henderson-franks/

For additional information about Clemson University’s Scroll of Honor visit:

https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/

 

 

 

Scroll of Honor – James Edward Vernon

A Fitting Day to Die 

Written by: Kelly Durham

The 1918 edition of Taps, the Clemson College annual, included a dedication “To those of our class-mates who have departed their college halls in order to prepare themselves for service in the Army of Democracy.”  James Edward Vernon was one of the men to whom the dedication was addressed.

Vernon, from Spartanburg, was a civil engineering major who found time to participate in many of the activities available on the small, rural campus.  He was a member of his class’s dancing clubs, serving as vice president as a senior.  As assistant athletics editor of Taps, he helped guide coverage of Clemson’s early intercollegiate sports teams.  He was a member of the Hobo Club, the Thalian Society, and the Spartanburg County Club, which he served as president during his senior year.  Vernon’s classmates described him as “Being endowed with a good intellect, a remarkable amount of common sense, and a determination that never knows defeat.”

Vernon was awarded his degree with the Class of 1918 despite having already left campus to join in the Great War in France.  Over there, Vernon became one of America’s early military aviators reaching the rank of first lieutenant in the Army’s Air Service.

Following the war, Vernon returned to Spartanburg and joined Harwood Beebe, a newly established engineering firm.  When America entered the Second World War, Vernon set aside his career and once again answered the call to duty, this time as a lieutenant in the Naval Reserve.  Rather than assigning him to sea duty, the Navy utilized Vernon’s engineering expertise and his personal experience as an aviator.

Naval Air Station Olathe in the 1940s

With the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, the Navy suddenly had urgent need for new training facilities.  Thousands of carrier-borne pilots would eventually be needed to drive the Japanese back across the Pacific to their home islands.  Vernon was dispatched to the new Naval Air Station at Olathe, Kansas.  While it was a long way from the ocean, Olathe was still described by one of its pilot trainees as a sea—of mud.  Vernon and his colleagues set about turning the prairie land into a modern, working airfield with all of the operations, maintenance, and training facilities required to support it.

On July 4, 1944, Vernon “died suddenly at his post,” according to a newspaper report.  It seemed a fitting date for the passing of this patriotic veteran of two World Wars.  At age fifty, Vernon is the oldest Clemson alumnus to die while on active duty during World War II.  He was survived by two daughters and a son, then a Navy aviation cadet in Pensacola, Florida.

For more information on Lieutenant James Edward Vernon see:

https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/scroll/james-edward-vernon/

For additional information on Clemson University’s Scroll of Honor visit:

https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/

 

 

 

Scroll of Honor – Ralph Alexander Kelley

Thunderbolt Pilot

Written by: Kelly Durham

 

Ralph Alexander Kelley of Charlotte, North Carolina enrolled at Clemson College as a member of the Class of 1946 and attended school during the 1942-43 academic year.  When the term came to a close in the spring of 1943, Clemson’s campus transitioned into Army training facilities under the direction of the War Department.  Underclassmen like Kelley were scattered across the country, ordered to attend basic training.  Those who demonstrated aptitude could apply for officer candidate schools.  This is likely the path that Kelley took on his way to becoming an Army Air Force fighter pilot.

Following flight training, Kelley shipped overseas and was assigned to the 522nd Fighter Squadron of the 27th Fighter Group.  In June 1944, the group transitioned from the older, slower P-40 Warhawk fighter to the faster and more heavily armed P-47 Thunderbolt.

The P-47 had gotten off to a rocky start.  Fighter pilots used to the sleek design of their streamlined aircraft initially balked at this huge, new fighter. Its wingspan was five feet wider and it possessed nearly four times the fuselage volume of the vaunted Spitfire. It was the heaviest single-engine, one-man aircraft of the World War II, weighing as much as eight tons when fully loaded with fuel and armaments.  The fighter’s conventional landing gear meant that visibility on the ground was difficult as the pilot had to maneuver the airplane from side-to-side in order to see around the big radial engine encased in its massive nose.  As first fielded, the Thunderbolt’s climb performance was disappointing, but in actual combat, its pilots soon came to trust its speed in a dive and its rugged durability.  By mid-1944, the P-47 was well-established as both a capable escort for heavy bomber formations and an effective ground attack aircraft. From airfields in Corsica, Kelley’s squadron flew P-47 missions to attack German communications and supply routes in northern Italy.

After a long, costly campaign through the winter and spring, Rome was finally liberated on June 5, 1944.  On July 1, Kelley was killed at the beginning of a mission when his aircraft likely collided with another P-47 on the ground at some point during his take off acceleration.

Kelley was awarded the Purple Heart and the Air Medal.  He is buried at Hamor Creek Baptist Church Cemetery in Mount Gilead, North Carolina.

For more information on Second Lieutenant Ralph Alexander Kelley see:

https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/scroll/ralph-alexander-kelley/

For additional information on Clemson University’s Scroll of Honor visit:

https://soh.alumni.clemson.edu/