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eMedals-United States. A China Theater Group to First Lieutenant "Jack" Clifford, Navigator who flew Ninety-Seven Missions & Parachuted to Safety Twice

Item: M0215-42

United States. A China Theater Group to First Lieutenant "Jack" Clifford, Navigator who flew Ninety-Seven Missions & Parachuted to Safety Twice

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United States. A China Theater Group to First Lieutenant "Jack" Clifford, Navigator who flew Ninety-Seven Missions & Parachuted to Safety Twice

Distinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster (in bronze, engraved "2nd. LT. CLUNE J. CLIFFORD A.C." on the reverse, measuring 43.3 mm (w) x 43.3 mm (h), oak leaf cluster on its original ribbon with brooch pinback); Purple Heart (two-piece construction, in bronze gilt with purple, red, white and green enamels, measuring 35 mm (w) x 43.5 mm (h), original ribbon with brooch pinback, intact enamels); Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster (in bronze, engraved "2nd. LT. CLUNE J. CLIFFORD A.C." on the reverse, measuring 42 mm in diameter, oak leaf cluster on its original ribbon with brooch pinback); Army Good Conduct Medal (in bronze, measuring 32 mm in diameter, original ribbon with brooch pinback); American Campaign Medal (in bronze, measuring 31.5 mm in diameter, original ribbon with brooch pinback); Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal (in bronze, measuring 32 mm in diameter, original ribbon with brooch pinback); and World War II Victory Medal (in bronze, measuring 36 mm in diameter, original ribbon with brooch pinback). Near extremely fine. Accompanied by two Ribbon Bars (First Bar: Purple Heart, Army Good Conduct Medal and American Campaign Medal, measuring 106.5 mm (w) x 10.7 mm (h), original ribbons, clear plastic covering, swing bar pinback; Second Bar: Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with bronze star, World War II Victory Medal and Army of Occupation Medal, measuring 106 mm (w) x 10.5 mm (h), original ribbons, dual push pin points); a United States Army Air Force Navigator Badge (in sterling silver, marked "STERLING" on the reverse, measuring 76.5 mm (w) x 20.5 mm (h), dual push pin points); a United States Army Air Force Navigator Badge, Reduced Size (in sterling silver, maker marked "N.S. MEYER INC. NEW YORK" with the company's insignia on the reverse, measuring 51 mm (w) x 13.5 mm (h), horizontal pinback); two First Lieutenant Rank Collar Insignia (in sterling silver, one is marked "STERLING", while the other is marked with an "F" on the reverse, measuring 9.3 mm (w) x 25.2 mm (h) each, vertical pinbacks); a Second Lieutenant Rank Collar Insignia (in silver gilt, maker marked "AULD. COL. O." (D.L. Auld Company, Columbus, Ohio) on the reverse, measuring 9.5 mm (w) x 25.5 mm (h), vertical pinback); a United States Army Air Force Prop and Wings Insignia (two-piece construction, in silvered and gilt bronze, measuring 28.2 mm (w) x 19.2 mm (h), dual push pin points); a China-Burma-India Shoulder Patch (in red, white, light blue and navy blue embroidery, khaki cotton backer, triple snaps on the reverse, measuring 57 mm (w) x 85 mm (h)); a 14th United States Army Air Force "Flying Tigers" Shoulder Patch (in red, white, orange, blue and black embroidery, measuring 59 mm (w) x 62 mm (h)), copies of his Separation Qualification Record and a recommendation for him to be named Squadron Navigator (dated July 12, 1944), along with copies of assorted newspapers articles and research papers.
 
Footnote: Clune John "Jack" Clifford was born on February 17, 1920 in Indianapolis, Indiana. He was baptized "John Clifford" and took the name "Francis" as his confirmation name. "Clune" was his mother's maiden name and it was not unusual in Irish families at that time to use the mother's maiden name as their oldest son's first name. He was not aware his first name was Clune until he joined the Air Cadets in 1942. Until that time, he went by Jack Francis Clifford. During his student days, it was necessary to file an affidavit, to prove that Jack Francis Clifford was the same person as Clune Jack Clifford, when he applied for the G.I. Bill of Rights benefits, in order to pay for his law school tuition after his separation from the Air Force in 1946. At the age of two, the family moved to Chicago, Illinois, where he attended St. Ignatius Grammar School and Sullivan High School, where he successfully graduated. He moved on to post-secondary education, attending college at Loyola University for the next three years, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature in 1942. Clifford was enrolled in Pre-law at Loyola and was a resident of Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, when he enlisted as a Private (676022) with the United States Army Air Corps, on March 26, 1942, sworn in as a "Private Unassigned", his enlistment for the duration of the War or other emergency, plus six months, stating that he was a College Student and that he was Single. He was not called to active duty at Kelly Field in Texas until June, his senior year at Loyola. He had taken several courses in advanced mathematics, including spherical trigonometry, so it did not surprise him that he was selected for navigation training. Over the period of nine months as an Aviation Cadet, he achieved the necessary training to be rated as a "Navigator". He trained for five weeks at Tyndall Field in Florida in Aerial Gunnery, nine weeks at Ellington Field in Texas in Pre-flight Navigation and sixteen weeks at Hondo, Texas in Advanced Navigation Training, receiving his wings in April 1943. He also completed four weeks at Chatute Field, Illinois in a CNT Instructors Course and two weeks at New Castle Army Air Force in Wilmington, Delaware. After finishing his navigation course, he graduated as a Second Lieutenant and was assigned to a crew and trained as a member of that crew. Second Lieutenant Clifford entered active service on April 1, 1943 and would later serve for twenty-one months as a Navigator, in the rank of First Lieutenant. He navigated the plane, a B-24J, from Florida to Yangkai, China, by way of Ascension Island (between Brazil and Africa in the South Atlantic Ocean). He was sent to China, to be part of the 308th Heavy Bombardment Group, 14th Army Air Force. Upon arrival at Yangkai, China on July 27, 1943, the crew was assigned to the 14th United States Army Air Force, 308th Bombardment Group, 373rd Bombardment Squadron.
 
Their newly acquired aircraft was built by Consolidated Aircraft Corporation at San Diego, Constructors Number 1925. It had been delivered to the United States Army and ferried overseas to China. It was a B-24D-105-CO, Serial Number 42-40848 and nicknamed "Flamingo". Two days later, on July 29th, the crew of eleven flew their first bombing mission together against the dockyards at Hong Kong, which was scheduled to take about nine hours. Clifford was the lead navigator aboard the aircraft, the B-24 equipped with a nose turret and other added fire power, which was ideal for the lead plane in bombing Hong Kong. The crew consisted of: the Pilot and Squadron Commander, Captain William Chenowith; the Co-Pilot, Major Edward G. Schultz; the Observer and Squadron Operations Officer, First Lieutenant Hsu Tung Chow of the China Air Force; the Navigator, Lieutenant Clune J. Clifford; the Bombardier, Lieutenant Donald B. Duffey; the Engineer, Technical Sergeant Charles P. Yelton; the Radio Operator, Technical Sergeant Russell A. Giles; the Assistant Engineer, Staff Sergeant Edward Pawlick; the Assistant Radio Operator, Staff Sergeant Milton A. McGee; the Armorer, Staff Sergeant Max C. Elder; and another Armorer, Staff Sergeant Francis J. Meaney. Once over the target, the formation encountered anti-aircraft fire but no enemy fighters. The B-24 made three bomb runs over the target before releasing its bombs. While in flight, they were testing a new retractable turret, which created excess drag and caused the bomber to run out of fuel near Yangkai, roughly twenty-five miles from base. Around 4:30 p.m., Captain Chenowith radioed the base of the impending danger, along with informing the crew of the dangerous situation, then ordered everyone to bail out. Inside the cockpit, the Observer, Chinese Air Force First Lieutenant Hsu Tung Chow accidentally opened his parachute and was trapped inside. In an effort to save him, the two pilots attempted to make a forced landing into a rice paddy, a few miles south of Yangkai. The landing was perfect, however, the speed of the aircraft combined with the short landing distance, caused the aircraft to impact an earthen berm, which had been built to create a dike. This resulted in the crushing of the nose section and center section of the aircraft, with the tail section remaining intact, the impact killing all three. Killed in Action were the Pilot, Captain William Chenowith, the Co-Pilot, Major Edward G. Schultz and the Observer, First Lieutenant Hsu Tung Chow, China Air Force. After the crash, 373rd Bombardment Squadron personnel were sent to locate the crash site and crew aboard two trucks. A Chinese farmer directed them to the site. The remains of all three were recovered and transported to Kunming, subsequently, no Missing Air Crew Report (MACR) was created. The recovery of the bodies was described by Glenn Roberts of 308th Bombardment Group: "Our flight engineer, Technical Sergeant A.T. Hill and I volunteered to go along and jumped onto the first truck. A Chinese farmer directed us to the crash site. The plane was a mess. When the plane struck the dike, the nose of the plane had been driven back so hard that there was absolutely nothing left, forward of the wing. The inertial effect of the impact had cause things to break loose throughout the fuselage and fly forward. The bodies of Captain Chenowith, Major Schultz and the Chinese pilot were removed and taken to Kunming. Hill and I were directed to remove the two waist guns, load them onto the truck, then remain at the site that night and stand guard, for fear that the local people might start taking things from the ship. When it got dark, it was an eerie feeling to be there. We were nervous and all night long, jumped at any little sound. We hadn’t eaten since noonand were hungry but wouldn’t go inside the plane to search for any K-rations. Hill had half a pack of cigarettes which we had smoked by around 9:00 p.m. It was a very long night. The next morning we thought they would never send a truck to bring us back to Yangkai." After the recovery of the remains, the two deceased American crew members were transported to the United States for permanent burial. Major Edward G. Schultz (April 4, 1896 - July 29, 1943) of Missouri died at the age of 47 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery at Section 12, Site 3126. The other eight crew members, including Clifford, had bailed out and landed safely.
 
While bailing out, Technical Sergeant Giles struck his head on the back edge of the escape hatch and suffered a severe gash. On the ground, the surviving crew found each other by 10:00 p.m.and returned to base. Two weeks later, the surviving crew was transferred to the 425th Bombardment Squadron at Kunming, where they received a replacement aircraft and named it "The Friendlin". Throughout the war, the Army Air Force had to fly their own supply missions over "The Hump" to obtain gas, in order to fly combat missions, many of the gas missions from Chabua, India to Kunming, China, as well as participating in bombing missions over Japanese occupied areas and missions to bomb Japanese shipping. Over a period of ten months, Clifford would participate in 97 missions on a B-24 airplane, accruing 434 combat hours and surviving four emergency landings in the process. During one of these emergency landings, they were astonished to find themselves the guests of honor at a native celebration, the villagers staging a parade for the Americans. A meal consisting of entire chickens, legs, head and all, were cut up and served in a huge bowl. Few air crews were able to keep dog mascots, as dog meat was considered a Chinese delicacy. However, it would be his 97th mission where he would be forced to parachute to safety once more. On May 20, 1944, a Japanese troop convoy was spotted in the South China Sea. Thirteen planes from the 308th Bombardment Group, including Clifford's plane, were sent out to locate and bomb the convoy. They easily spotted the convoy, however, the convoy was escorted by two Japanese destroyers. Clifford's B-24 was badly shot up, injuring many of the crew members, including Clifford, who received wounds to his hand and arm. He bailed out safely in the mountains but was in Japanese occupied territory near Swatow. Clifford recounted the experiences of that day: "One of our crew was pretty badly shot up and we all jumped. I got out at about 6,000 feet and fell on top of a mountain. It was dark, and the only thing to do was to sleep out in the open. The rain woke me and I got up. I took off my clothes, wrung them out as much as I could and put them on again. Then I covered myself with the parachute. Mother believes the parachute, by keeping me warm, really saved me from pneumonia and sure death. Our crew was scattered over 10 miles, but we were together in a few days. The three weeks we were reported lost we really were really on our way to our base 300 air miles away, but twice that far over primitive trails. All the people we met were very kind to us. They fed us, gave us what clothes they could and finally got us back to our base. I'll never forgot the dinner the Chinese gave us in one village. It was in fourteen courses, and between each one, Chinese girls would come over and wipe our faces with perfumed towels. The Chinese were so happy to see American soldiers that they shot off firecrackers wholesale whenever a group of men came through a village. Whole strings of them are thrown right into the trucks we ride." In another interview, he described the harrowing circumstances: "After hiding in the mountains for a day and a half, by myself, not knowing who was friend of enemy, I found our co-pilot, and later we were found by Maryknoll (Catholic) Missionaries. They dressed us up like Chinese coolies, hid us in a sampan boat and took us down a river, passing many Japanese military installations. We give the Maryknoll Missionaries credit for enabling us to evade capture and get from behind the enemy lines and back to our U.S. base. We later heard some of the Maryknoll priests were executed by the Japanese for helping the American flyers." Their wounds were treated at a Swiss Hospital and they finally arrived back in Kunming twelve days after the incident. It was later learned that Chinese Communists, part of the 8th Army, took some of those missionaries prisoner, executed some and imprisoned the others. There is no question that the airmen would not have survived without the missionaries' help. Clifford's parents were very anxious during the month-long period of uncertainty, not knowing whether their son was alive or dead. They received a cable from their son, indicating that he had to bail out but was safe at an undisclosed location far from his home base. This cable was received just before the wire from the War Department notifying them that he was lost. They were quite relieved to know that he was safe. Clifford returned to Chicago while on furlough and he proudly displayed the No. 13 silk parachute to his parents. It not only insured his safe return to the ground, but kept him warm during the first night after he bailed out over China, his mother later claiming that it prevented him from getting pneumonia. In a letter from Air Corps Squadron Navigator, Captain Martin W. Forman, 425th Bombardment Squadron, dated July 12, 1944, he recommended First Lieutenant Clifford be considered for a position as a Squadron Navigator in either tactical or training organizations, when he was considered for re-assignment. First Lieutenant Clifford was Honorably Discharged on January 10, 1946 at the Army Air Force Separation Base at Truax Field in Madison, Wisconsin. Clifford was a recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Purple Heart and the Army Good Conduct Medal. In addition, for his Second World War service, he was awarded the American Campaign Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with bronze star, the World War II Victory Medal and the Army of Occupation Medal. His overseas exploits enabled them to be members of several organizations, including: the Caterpillar Club, for bailing out of a disabled plane; the Escape and Evasion Society, for escaping and evading the Japanese, thanks to the Maryknoll missionaries; the Military Order of the Purple Heart, for being wounded in combat; and the Hump Pilot's Association, for air crew members flying gas over the Himalayan Mountains into China. He was active in the China-Burma-India Veteran's Association, Chicago Basha and served two terms as Commander, as well as serving as Senior Vice-Commander, Provost Marshal and Judge Advocate. Clifford received his legal training under the G.I. Bill of Rights (AKA Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944) and graduated Harvard Law School in 1948. He became a practicing attorney in 1949, was elected to membership in the Chicago Union League Club and was active in their chapter of the International Toastmasters Club. In 1990, the Veterans of Foreign Wars organization selected him to be Grand Marshal for the Memorial Day parade. Clune John "Jack" Clifford was married with five children: two daughters and three sons. One of his daughters died at the age of 7 from cancer, his other daughter, Jessie, took up residence in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Two of his sons, John and Walt, went on to become lawyers in his law firm, the other son, Paul, became Associate Editor of a medical publication in Washington, D.C. He died in 1994, at the age of 74.

 

 

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