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Captain William A. Clarke
721st Squadron
Mjr. William Clarke

Mjr. William Clarke


1. Major William A Clarke was born in Meridian, Mississippi, on 21 December 1915. A graduate of Louisville High School, Louisville, Mississippi, he attended Mississippi State College for three years prior to transferring and graduation from the Hemphill Diesel Engineering School of Memphis, Tennessee. He served with the Mississippi National Guard for two and one half years. His occupation prior to active military service was with the Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Mobile, Alabama, as Electrical and Mechanical Refrigeration Technician and Service manager. On 22 February 1941 he married Miss Idolene Hoyle of Mobile, Alabama.

2. He entered the service at Maxwell Field, Alabama on 17 January 1942 as a Aviation Cadet. He was graduated as a pilot and commissioned a second lieutenant in the Reserve on 9 October 1942.

3. His first assignment was with the 336th Bomb Group at Fort Myers, Florida as a student. After completing the instructions, he was retained in the Group as a B-26 Instructor Pilot until 11 July 1943. At this time he was transferred to B-24 Pilot Training at Smyrna Army Air Force Base, Tennessee. Instruction continued from Smyrna to the Clovis Army Air Force Base, New Mexico where upon completion, he was assigned a crew and ordered to report to the 450th Bomb Group at Alamogordo, New Mexico. He served in this Group throughout its training period and departed the United States with them for North Africa on 2 December 1943, as a Flight Commander in the 721st Bombardment Squadron. During his tour of combat duty, he completed fifty missions and over 300 combat hours in the European Theatre, holding hte3 positions of Senior Flight Commander, Pilot-Engineering Officer, and Squadron Operations Officers.

4, Rotating to the Zone of Interior in September 1944, his assignment was to Chanute Field, Illinois, to become a student in the Aircraft Maintenance Officers' Course; and after graduating in June 1945, he was retained ass an instructor, becoming Supervisor of the school in July 1945.

5. While serving as Supervisor of the school, he was interviewed by representatives of the J. P. Riddle Company for the purpose of assisting in a civilian program organizing a technical school for the Brazilian Air Force in Brazil. He was accepted and released from active duty in December 1945. Enrolling in the Instructor School, operated by the J. P. Riddle Company, in Coral Gables, Florida, he was instructed in the Portuguese language and attended classes in preparation for taking the Civil Aeronautics examinations for instructor in aircraft and engines. After completing the school and obtaining the Civil Aeronautics License, he departed for Brazil in March 1946. He became Chief Instructor of the Aircraft Maintenance Courses, and later, Assistant Technical Director for the School.

6. Returning from Brazil in March 1948, he was recalled to active duty, and ordered to report to the Caribbean Air Command, Canal Zone, 28 October 1948. He was given the assignment to organize a technical school for the training of Latin American students. The school was named the USAF School for Latin America, and he became the Commandant on 6 December 1948. The first class began on 10 January 1949 and from that time until 15 December 1951, he directed the training and graduation of over 500 students from the Air Forces of 14 Latin American Countries.

7. Upon completing the tour in the Canal Zone, he was ordered to the Zone of Interior for assignment to Headquarters USAF, Washington, D.C. From January 1952 until September 1955, he performed duties for the Assistant for Mutual Security, Deputy Chef of Staff for Materiel. His duties included evaluating, monitoring of progress reports, preparing Congressional Presentations, and programming for the Mutual Defense Assistance Programs of the USAF.

8. Major Clarke was reassigned in August 1955 to the Air University at Maxwell AFB, Alabama, to attend the regular course of the Air Command and Staff School. Upon completion of this course, he was ordered to Goodfellow AFB, Texas, where he is presently assigned as Commander of the 3546th Pilot Training Squadron.

9. His decorations include the Distinguished Flying Cross and one Oak Leaf Cluster; Air Medal and four clusters; European Theatre with three battle stars; Presidential Unit Citation; and the Commendation Ribbon.

Information courtesy of Gregory Pons

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