McClusky, Clarence Wade

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McClusky, Clarence Wade, born 01-06-1902, in Buffalo, New York. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1926 and became a Naval Aviator three years later. Over the next decade, he served in several air units, as well as on command staffs, as an instructor at the Naval Academy and at shore facilities. In 1940 he was assigned to Fighting Squadron Six, based on USS Enterprise, and assumed command of that squadron in April 1941. Lieutenant Commander McClusky became Enterprise air group commander in April 1942. During the Battle of Midway, while leading his air group’s scout bombers on 04-06-1942, he made the critical tactical decision that led to the sinking of two of Japan’s fleet carriers, Kaga, and Akagi.  When McClusky could not find the Japanese carriers where he expected them, and with his air group’s fuel running dangerously low, he spotted the Japanese destroyer Arashi steaming north at flank speed. The Arashi had stayed behind to attack the USS Nautilus, which had been harassing the Japanese fleet. Taking the Arashi’s heading led him directly to the enemy carriers. He then directed his dive-bombers into an attack which led to the destruction of both Kaga and Akagi. A squadron from the Yorktown, led by Max Leslie, had taken off an hour later, but it used a more recent, and hence more accurate, sighting for the location of the Japanese carriers. It arrived at the same moment as the Enterprise’s bombers and attacked the Soryu, and within minutes, three of the four Japanese carriers had been turned into burning hulks. McClusky, through his intelligence, courage and sheer luck, had thus made a vital contribution to the outcome of this pivotal battle. For his actions, McClusky was awarded the Navy Cross. Later in World War II, he commanded the escort carrier USS Corrgidor.  Captain McClusky served in a variety of staff and shore positions in the later 1940s. During the Korean War, he was Chief of Staff to the Commanders of the First and Seventh Fleet. He commanded NAS Glenview, Illinois, in 1952–53, and the Boston Group of the Atlantic Reserve Fleet in 1954–56. McClusky retired from active duty in July 1956. At that time, in recognition of his vital contributions to the outcome of World War II, he was advanced to flag rank.

Death and burial ground of McClusky, Clarence Wade.

McCluskey died at the age of 74, on 27-06-1974 and is buried with his wife Ruth Goodwin, born Mundy, who died age 65, on 07-12-1967, on the US Naval Academy Cemetery of Annapolis, Maryland. Close by the graves of the General, who directed the development of the United States’ original jet engine and jet aircraft. Benjamin Wiley Chidlaw, Air Force Lieutenant General. Commander 5th Bombardment Wing, Joseph Harris Atkinson, General Lieutenant, Commander Sixth Air Force, Hubert Reilly Harmon, General, Commander 15th Air Force, Emmet “Rosie” O’Donnel Jr., Emmet “Rosie”, Lieutenant General, Chief of Air Staff, George Edward Stratemeyer.

 

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