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Pearl Harbor Survivor Takes to the Skies

Clarence, 94, of Brookdale’s Horizon Bay of San Marcos witnessed the “date which will live in infamy” on December 7th, 1941. Clarence, a Marine, arrived on Pearl Harbor on December 1st 1941. On December 6th, Clarence and two friends were given leave for a night on the town. Clarence was awoken the next morning from a park bench in town he had been sleeping on to the sound of the attack. He and his friends raced back to the base where they were given machine guns, assigned to a golf course, and told to guard the area. The men, having little experience with firearms, were suddenly tasked with 50 caliber anti-aircraft machine guns. Clarence said, “there were so many things to shoot at” and began firing. Clarence was fortunate to survive uninjured. He saw the devastation after Pearl Harbor, and it affected him deeply. He stayed in Pearl Harbor until Christmas of 1941; he was then sent to multiple other locations including Midway Island and New Zealand. After WWII, he served tours in China, Korea and Okinawa until his retirement in 1961. More than seven decades later, Clarence still attends the yearly reunion of Pearl Harbor survivors and a seaside remembrance ceremony on the battle’s anniversary.

During his time as a Marine, Clarence was stationed on boats and spent free time studying the skies. He became adept at identifying aircraft and hoped to fly in one, particularly in an open cockpit biplane.

Brookdale and Wish of a Lifetime fulfilled Clarence’s wish by sending him up in a 1942 PT-17 Boeing-Stearman Model 75. The plane, owned by Cibolo Creek Aviation, LLC was painstakingly restored and is painted in genuine Army colors. The aircraft and pilot time was generously provided with a donation to the CAF Centex Wing in order for them to support the mission of keeping American Airpower Heritage in the public eye. Clarence’s spectacular ride from San Marcos up and over his family’s homestead in nearby Uhland, TX occurred on July, 19th 2014. Clarence said “It was a great flight, it was really neat. If I had a chance, I’d do it again!”

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