Saturday, August 21, 2010

Clark Marsh, The Life most never knew

This generation of soldiers never got their story out.  These WWII soldiers are passing away at the rate of 2500 a day and if not recorded soon no one will ever know the sacrifices they made for freedom.

Military History of Clark D. Marsh

Before the War - Clark Dean Marsh was born on August 16, 1921 in his parent’s farm home on Marsh Mountain near Pangburn, Arkansas. Clark was the 6th of seven children of Wesley Andrew Marsh and Mary Edith (Van Patten) Marsh. Wesley was born in Pangburn on June 12, 1886, and Mary was born in Pangburn on March 20, 1885.

Clark attended school in nearby Pangburn, and walked or ran the 2 miles down Marsh Mountain Road into town and back daily. Clark left high school in 1940 during his senior year to attend National Youth Authority training in Searcy, Arkansas to become a Machinist, because “This looked like the best job opportunity for me”. The nation had been through several hard years of the Depression, and a good job opportunity was a hard thing to pass up. Once this training was satisfactorily completed, the NYA was supposed to have a good paying job waiting for the graduate.

Clark graduated from NYA training in March of 1942 and was assigned to work as a Machinist in Hartford, Connecticut at an excellent wage of $22 per month! The NYA had kept their promise and Clark was standing in tall cotton.

Clark enjoyed living back east. There were times when people in Hartford would offer to buy a meal for Clark or another friend from “down south” just to listen to them talk in their southern accent. One friend of Clark’s knew the popular country western singer Bob Wills. Clark’s friend would sometimes call Bob in Texas from Hartford on a Saturday night before a performance, and someone in Texas would hold the phone up during Bob’s concert so the locals in Hartford could hear Bob sing over the phone from Texas.

Into the Army - Clark received his draft notices from both the Hartford and Searcy Draft Boards, and Clark decided to return to Arkansas to enter the Army. Clark went in for his physical evaluation in October 1942 in Little Rock, Arkansas. On that first day, he met Paul Lynn from El Reno, Oklahoma, and Clark and Paul ended up going thru the entire war together. Clark and his cousin Howard Marsh also spent their entire time in the Army together.

Clark was inducted into the Army at Camp Robinson, Arkansas on November 25, 1942, and was soon stationed in Fort Riley, Kansas. Clark became a half track and tank driver in the 9th Armored Division, 52nd Armored Infantry Battalion (AIB), HQ Company. In the spring/summer of 1943 the Division was sent to the Mojave Desert of California for desert warfare training, which was presumably to prepare for battling the Germans in North Africa.

As you’d expect, it was very hot during the day, and it would get very cold at night. In Clark’s tent a thermometer was hung up and it would peg out at the maximum 120F temperature every day. One of Clark’s fellow soldiers was raised on a dairy farm in the mid west and wrote to his parents to send him a dairy thermometer that had a higher maximum temperature of over 200F, so that the soldiers could find out how hot it was in their tent. Fortunately, the dairy thermometer didn’t peg out, but did get over 130F degrees.

During the Mojave Desert training, outdoor showers were set up for the soldiers. When Clark took a shower, he would start by getting into the shower with his fatigues and would lather up while having his clothes still on. He’d then rinse out the clothes, would take them off, and would then throw them over a nearby fence. He’d then finish taking his shower. In about 5 minutes when he was done with his shower, his fatigues would be dry and he could put them right back on. This is one advantage of living in a dry heat!

Training was very tough, and the soldiers sometimes had to go on 20 to 40 mile double time runs in full gear of up to 70 lbs. The soldiers typically would run 3 miles and would then walk for two. Clark believes that this tough training saved his life during the war.

One combat exercise involved the Air Force and the Army. B-17 bombers were used to bomb the hills in front of the Army Division, followed by fighter planes strafing, with the Army then providing artillery fire followed by the movement of tanks, infantry, halftracks, and other support units.

Clark had a drill instructor that he remembers as “the big Swede”. Before one long run, Clark had a foot injury and couldn’t go. When the soldiers returned, the Big Swede asked Clark how he was doing, and Clark was feeling better. The Big Swede had Clark get his gear on, and then took Clark on another 20 mile run, after just finishing a 20-mile run!

In November 1943 The Division was transferred to Camp Polk, Louisiana for more training in a different environment. Many times they would be on maneuvers, and a half-track or tank would get bogged down in a swamp. Some of these tanks/halftracks sunk completely into the swamp before the soldiers could get a line on them to pull them out, and the equipment was lost. Clark wonders how many tanks and halftracks are still buried in the swamps of that camp to this day. Fortunately, no soldiers were lost with this equipment.

On to Europe – Training at Camp Polk lasted until July 1944 when the Division was transferred to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey to prepare to be shipped overseas. The Division kept training and also got shots for overseas duty. On August 20, 1944 Clark and 15,000 other soldiers and 1000 crew members boarded the Queen Mary, bound for Europe. They arrived on August 26, 1944 in Scotland on the Clyde River and were then put on to trains to Tidworth in southern England. The Division soon crossed the English Channel and arrived in France on September 25, 1944. The Division then traveled through France to their assignment in Luxembourg, and relieved the 8th Infantry Division who were defending the Ardennes Forest area near the front lines at the German border.

Although the 9th Armored had trained together as a unit for almost two years, they were still “green” since they hadn’t seen combat. As they got closer to the front lines, they did have minor skirmishes, with Clark’s 52nd Armored Infantry Battalion being the first battalion of the 9th Armored Division to see combat on October 23, 1944.

The Division had been placed near the front lines in Luxembourg in The Ardennes forest in a relatively quiet area, to give them time to prepare for combat. Many of the Commanders in the Allied Forces thought that this area shouldn’t see much action from the Germans for the next few weeks, since winter was coming, and the Germans had been on the run since D-Day. The general opinion was that not much was left of the German Army but “old men and boys”. For these reasons, and also due to the geography of the area, the Ardennes was lightly guarded by the Allied forces, with few soldiers stretched over a wide area.

Several weeks were spent in this area, with more light skirmishes and casualties, but no major activities. In early December 1944 the Division was relieved by the 28th Infantry Division, and they were sent to billet in the Colmar-Berg castle in Luxembourg. Not bad war duty! After a few days at this location, Clark’s 52nd Armored Infantry Battalion was stationed near Trois Vierges, Belgium along with the 2nd tank battalion and the 73rd armored field artillery battalion. This group formed the Combat Command Reserve (CCR) group of the 9th Armored Division.

The relatively easy duty all changed on December 16, 1944 in what started the biggest single battle that the US Armed Forces has ever (to this day) participated in. Hitler was able to put together roughly 29 Infantry and Armored Divisions for an offensive push through the Ardennes that exceeded the number of German Divisions that had originally invaded France in 1940. At this time there were only 3 American Infantry Divisions and the 9th Armored Division in this area to defend against the German offensive. Historians later recognized that the outnumbered American forces had no chance by themselves to defeat the much larger German forces. However, the greatly outnumbered American Divisions were successful in fighting the Germans to slow them down enough to allow American reinforcements to get to the Ardennes, and eventually push back the Germans. After this battle there were an estimated 70,000 Allied casualties and 120,000 German casualties. On March 13, 1945 Supreme Allied Commander General Dwight Eisenhower awarded Clark’s 52nd Armored Infantry Battalion a Presidential Unit Citation for their actions during this battle, which later came to be known as the Battle of the Bulge.

On the morning of December 16th, German artillery began firing all along the front lines of The Ardennes, and it became apparent that some sort of German offensive was starting. On December 17th, the 3 Companies of the 9th Armored Division were separated to defend 3 key positions along the expected route of the German offensive east of Bastogne, Belgium.

On December 18th Clark was with Task Force Booth, which was under the command of Lt. Col Robert M. Booth and was stationed near Moinet, Belgium. That afternoon and evening, TF Booth received moderate artillery and small arms fire. That night, German armored vehicles could be heard around and behind TF Booth, along the Longvilly Bourcy Road. Recon patrols that were sent out found that they were in fact surrounded by what was estimated to be at least a German Panzer tank Division. During the late night of December 18, 1944, Col Booth radioed to his commander that they could hear German equipment all around them, and that they were in danger of being surrounded. Clark was near Col Booth during some of these radio conversations, and heard Col Booth being told that “you are a sacrifice unit and you will hold your position at all costs”.

On the morning of December 19th, Commander Booth decided to move his Task Force northwest towards Bourcy, Belgium. It’s not certain if Commander Booth wanted to get into a better position to fight the Germans, or if he just wanted to get his soldiers out of the middle of several German Divisions, where they had little chance of survival. As they started moving, they ran into elements of the 9th Armored Divisions B and C Companies, who joined Task Force Booth. The B and C companies had defended road blocks east of this location along the road from Clerf to Bastogne and had been overrun by German tanks and infantry, with only a few soldiers escaping. Near Bourcy, Task Force Booth ran into and fought several enemy armored vehicles and infantry. The enemy was repelled, and Commander Booth left a small group at this location to protect the rear of the column. The Task Force kept moving northward. Near Boeur, Belgium the Task Force received fairly heavy enemy mortar and small arms fire, which the Task Force silenced in about 20 minutes. As Task Force Booth continued to move northward during the afternoon of December 19th, history books say that this group simultaneously ran into elements of 3 German Divisions consisting of one Infantry and two Armored divisions including the 2nd Panzer tank division. U.S Army historian Hugh M. Cole states that at this time, Task Force Booth was “cut to ribbons” by the three German Divisions, and it’s a miracle that anyone in this group survived.

Clark was driving a half-track when this happened. He first saw a tank round explode to the right of his half-track, and then he heard another round go over the top of his vehicle. Clark knew that a German tank was zeroing in on his half-track, and that the next round was probably going to hit its target. As he and his crew bailed out, the half-track was hit by a tank artillery shell and exploded. The US soldiers managed to run into the nearby woods and put up a strong fight, but they were severely out-numbered by German troops and tanks, and it was an impossible situation.

Clark remembers that during the battle, almost all of the half-tracks and vehicles were destroyed by the German tanks and machine guns, and the US Soldiers ran into the woods for cover. There was still a lot of German machine gun and artillery fire coming at them in the woods, and the US soldiers were running between the trees as they fought. At the time, Clark had a rain slicker on. At one point, the soldiers on either side of Clark were hit by enemy fire, and later Clark found bullet holes in his rain slicker, but he wasn’t hit. The wounded soldiers were pulled into cover as much as possible, and Clark helped to apply sulfa powder and bandages to the wounded soldiers. Clark never saw them again during the war and he thought that they probably were killed.

(In the early 1990’s after retiring back to Pangburn, Arkansas, Clark and his wife Sarah were out for a Sunday drive in northwest Arkansas. They had stopped at a restaurant in a small town to have lunch, and Clark had gone up to the counter to pay the bill. The back of the head of the man in line in front of Clark looked familiar, and Clark called out a name. The man turned around and said “Clark Marsh, is that you?” It turned out that this was one of the soldiers that Clark had bandaged during that battle in The Ardennes! Clark and the man hadn’t seen each other in almost 50 years, and neither thought that the other one had survived that battle.)

As it became obvious that the US soldiers were vastly outnumbered and that the situation was hopeless, a soldier was sent out with a white flag to surrender, and he was shot. This was tried a few more times, and those soldiers were also killed. The surviving group of around 15 to 20 soldiers that Clark was with decided that they would all go out at one time “to get it over with”, and that they would either be captured or killed. When they all stood up to surrender, the Germans didn’t fire on them. Clark doesn’t know why they weren’t killed, but were taken as prisoners.

The next day, the 101st Airborne reinforcements came into this area to help fight the Germans. In Major Dick Winters book “Beyond Band of Brothers”, he says that as they approached the area of Clark’s battle on December 20th, “Somebody else had gone through the woods before we arrived and had fought a terrific battle. This section of woods was literally covered with dead and dying men, German and American alike”. Lt. Nathan Sachnowitz, who was also in this battle with Clark wrote that “After a violent but hopeless battle, practically our entire column was wiped out and casualty rates were terrifically high.”

Clark was captured and questioned, and then put in with a larger group of American soldiers and they started marching back into Germany. Clark told me about his experiences while being a POW, although the order in which they occurred may not be in the same order as described below.

Clark was first processed into the German POW Camp Stalag IIA, and Clark still has the POW card and metal tag assigned to him by the Germans. His occupation on the card was shown as “American Farmer”. With the front lines constantly collapsing into Germany, Clark was never at any one camp for very long, and was always marching further into Germany.

The POW’s were given very little or nothing to eat as they marched. If a POW fell and was not able to keep up, he was shot and killed by the Germans. Clark remembers that on Christmas Eve 1944, he found a rutabaga on the road, and he split it with one of his buddies for Christmas Dinner.

During the early part of his time as a POW, Clark was put into a train boxcar with other POW’s but with no food or water. The POW’s were so tightly crammed into the boxcar that no one could lay down. The only water they got was from melting the frost that formed on some of the metal parts inside of the boxcar. While the train was stopped in Berlin, Allied bombers bombed the train yard. Several German soldiers were killed by a bomb blast as they stood outside of the POW train. The train moved on and after about a week, the POW’s were taken out of the boxcar and then ordered again to march.

During December 1944, Europe experienced the coldest temperatures and largest snow amounts that had been seen in over 40 years. Most of the clothing and equipment that the US soldiers had was not meant for winter battle, and the US soldiers and POW’s suffered greatly because of this.

As the POW’s were marching, and during Clark’s entire time as a POW, the Allied Air Forces were constantly bombing, strafing and attacking the Germans, so there were the continuous sounds of explosions around them.

Most of the time while marching, the POW’s spent the night in a field or a ditch next to the road they were marching on, with no cover from the winter weather. One night the POW’s were allowed to bed down in a German barn. When they woke up the next morning, they found that half of the barn had been blown away by a bomb or artillery shell. Apparently the POW’s were so tired and used to hearing nearby explosions that having half of their barn blow away during the night did not wake them up.

During one American bombing raid, the POW’s were crossing a bridge and a large bomb hit the bridge a few feet ahead of them and went right through the bridge deck without exploding. The POW’s had to walk around the hole left in the bridge by the bomb, but were lucky because the bomb was apparently a dud and didn’t explode. If it had exploded it would likely have killed all of them.

As the group of POW’s marched through German towns and cities, many of the local citizens yelled and spat and threw things at them. Clark remembers that mostly younger Germans did this yelling, etc, and that he would also sometimes see older Germans in upstairs windows looking at the POW’s and making the sign of the cross, seeming to try to help the POW’s in the only way that they could.

Some of the German guards treated the POW’s relatively humanely, while others were brutal and sadistic. Some POW’s with Clark were mutilated and killed by the Germans. Clark has never told me much about this part of his POW experience.

As the POW’s marched and the bombing raids continued, Clark often wondered how many times his brother Lloyd had flown over him. Lloyd was a tail gunner on a B-17 bomber, and flew over 30 missions over Germany. Clark’s younger brother Wayne was also serving in the US Army in the Pacific.

In January 1945, Clark’s parents were notified that their son was missing in action (see attachments 4, 5 and 6 telegram, letter, and newspaper article – the newspaper mistakenly gives January 19 instead of December 19 of the day Clark became MIA). Clark’s older sister Oleta worked in Washington, D.C. at this time for the FBI, and her job responsibility was to process the names of the US war casualties. This became very difficult for Oleta since she didn’t know if she would be seeing her brothers’ names come across her desk. A few weeks later, Clark’s family was notified that he was a POW (see telegram attachment 8). They were glad to hear that Clark was alive, but it still wasn’t certain that he would survive.

During one day of marching and as US bombers flew overhead, Clark saw that one of the bombers was hit and the crew had bailed out. One parachute landed nearby in a field, and some of the German soldiers ran out to capture the US bomber crew member. As they returned, Clark yelled “Wayne Knox, what are you doing here?” Wayne replied, “Well Clark, I heard that you were over here in Germany and I thought I’d better come see how you were doing”. Wayne Knox was raised in Searcy, Arkansas, about 16 miles from Pangburn, and Wayne and Clark had known each other growing up. You have to wonder with the hundreds of thousands of troops that were fighting in the war at this time, what are the chances that two friends from rural Arkansas would happen to meet on a country road in Germany this way!

As Wayne Knox joined the POW’s, he learned that Col Booth, Clark’s CO who had also been captured during The Battle of the Bulge, had an injured foot that had been run over by a half track during the battle. Wayne gave Col Booth his flight boots, which were fur lined for the bomber crew to keep warm at high altitudes. This simple act may have saved Col Booth’s life, because if he couldn’t keep up with the marching POW’s, he would have been shot.

I got to meet Wayne Knox a few years ago in Searcy, Arkansas, and we talked about him parachuting in on Clark. Wayne told me that on his previous mission, his bomber was so badly damaged that it couldn’t be flown again, so they were flying a brand new bomber when it was shot down over Germany. Wayne said that when the crew was told to bail out, he tried to open the escape hatch, but it was stuck. Apparently the new plane had a new coat of paint, and the escape hatch was painted shut! Wayne began jumping up and down on the hatch trying to open it, and “all of a sudden, I was floating in the air” as the door had finally broken loose. Wayne then opened his parachute and was talking to Clark a few minutes later.

Clark’s Cousin Howard Marsh had also been captured during the Battle of the Bulge, and was a POW with Clark. Howard had come down with pneumonia and had almost become too weak to walk. Clark and others helped him keep walking and he survived his time as a POW. Howard lives today near Searcy, Arkansas.

Clark also remembers receiving one or two Red Cross packages while he was a POW, and this also helped save his life. The few canned goods in the Red Cross packages had been punctured by the Germans, and were no good. The one thing that did make it through was a box of sugar cubes. While Clark was a POW, his weight went from 160 lbs down to approximately 80 lbs when he was liberated, so it was a struggle each day to keep going. When Clark was marching and got to a point the he couldn’t go on any farther, he would eat a sugar cube to get a quick boost of energy that helped him keep going. Not being able to march meant being shot, and these sugar cubes helped save his life. Clark is still amazed how much energy is in one little cube of sugar, something that a person might not realize until they have no energy left in their body.

As the POW’s marched, they were constantly on the lookout for food, and they also got pretty good at stealing it from their German captors. They knew that if they were caught stealing that they would be shot, but they still took the chance. As they were marching, many times they would start walking close to a German guard, and they would steal from the Germans back-pack as they marched. As they stole an item, they would pass it back to other POW’s in the group. They were never caught by the Germans doing this, although several of the German soldiers got pretty mad when they found food missing from their back-packs.

Also as the POW’s marched, they would sometimes be strafed with US fighter plane machine gun fire. The POW’s learned that if they just stayed on the road and didn’t run for cover, the fighter pilots would realize that they were US POW’s and would stop firing at them. The pilots would then signal to them by shaking their wings up and down, and they would leave them alone.

Towards the end of the War, Clark was put in a POW camp. It was spring time and the camp was wet and muddy. Each POW camp typically had a “Confidence Man” that the POW’s elected to be their interface with the German commander at the camp. At this camp, the Confidence Man was a Ranger whose last name was pronounced E-haw (Ehaugh?). One day the German commander came out into the camp, followed by his entourage. The commander was what you might imagine from seeing WWII movies, immaculately dressed with highly polished boots, and with SS insignia on his uniform. The Germans had placed boards over the mud so the German commander could walk into the camp without getting his boots muddy. The Confidence Man Ehaugh walked up to the German commander and they had a few words, and then Ehaugh punched the German Commander in the face, knocking him face down in the mud! All of the POW’s jaws dropped. Clark doesn’t remember why Ehaugh did this, but he does remember that the Commander was furious. He got back out of the mud and ordered that 10 POW’s, including Ehaugh, be shot on the spot by a firing squad. Unfortunately, Clark was one of the 10 randomly selected POW’s, and they were put into a line to be executed. As they were standing in front of the German riflemen to be shot, Ehaugh said to the Commander “In my country a condemned man gets a chance to say his last words before he’s executed, and I’d like to have that chance now”. The Commander thought for a moment and then said that Ehaugh could speak. Ehaugh said “You may think that I’m one mean SOB, but the guy that taught me everything is on the other side of that hill, and he knows that I’m here, and if he doesn’t find me here alive, you’re all going to have hell to pay!!” The German Commander heard this and spoke with his subordinates, and decided to release all of the POW’s from the firing squad! Apparently the Germans knew that the end of the war could be close at hand, and figured that Ehaugh’s buddy may very well be on the other side of the hill.

On April 12th 1945, the Germans ordered all POW’s to line up in the POW camp yard for an announcement. The German Commander came out and said “The war is over for the United States since your President Roosevelt has just died.” Clark said that the POW’s all said “You got us out here for that?! That’s not news, we already knew about that!” The Germans were angry about how the Americans could have already found out about Roosevelt’s death before the Germans could tell them.

Even though Germany was in the middle of a war, there were still German farmers just outside of the camp that raised livestock, etc. The POW’s had seen that one farmer had a few goats and sheep, and a few POW’s were able to sneak out of the camp at night and steal some of the livestock to bring back into camp to butcher, cook and eat. The next day the farmer was at the camp yelling to the camp Commander about stolen livestock. The Germans searched the POW’s barracks, but they never found any trace of the animals.

On April 28th, 1945, the POW’s got up and found that only a few of the German soldiers were left guarding the POW camp. Apparently, the Germans thought that the Allies were getting close, and many of them had left. Finding this out, the American POW’s took over the camp. Clark said that he remembers Ehaugh approaching one German armed guard, and that Clark had never seen a man disarmed and killed with bare hands as fast as Ehaugh killed that guard. Clark said that some of the remaining German guards that had treated the POW’s well were also taken captive and treated well by the Americans. Other German guards that had brutalized the American POW’s and who were still in camp didn’t live through the morning.

Later that day, the British Army arrived at the camp to liberate the POW’s. As they approached the front gate, there were still Germans in the nearby woods that began shelling the POW’s and the Brits. Apparently the Germans planned to use the POW’s as bait to try to kill the POW’s and the British soldiers. After a few tries, the Brits decided that they would drive quickly up to the front gate of the camp and they would slow down enough to allow some of the POW’s to run out and jump into a British truck. Clark ran out on one of these tries, and he was finally back in friendly hands.

Soon after being liberated, the British stopped and Clark and a few of the other POW’s that had escaped with him saw survivors of one of the Death Camps that the Germans had created for the Jews and others. Clark remembers seeing an American soldier give a death camp survivor a cigarette, and after one puff the death camp survivor was laying on the ground. Apparently these POW’s were so weak that even one puff of a cigarette was too much for them, and could knock them out or even kill them. It had been very rough for Clark being a POW, and Clark was amazed to see that other POW’s had been treated even worse than Clark had been.

As they were being driven back to Allied territory, the Brit’s stopped and the ex-POW’s found a wine cellar. They put several bottles of wine in a bag and carried them back onto the truck, and began traveling again. One ex-POW took a big drink of wine, and it immediately knocked him out since he had eaten very little in months, similar to the death camp survivor smoking a cigarette. The rest of the ex-POW’s knew that they couldn’t drink the wine either, so now they had several bags of wine bottles that they couldn’t drink. As they were going down the road towards the Allied area, hundreds of German POW’s were walking in the same direction on each side of the road. The ex-POW’s had been through several months or years of hell, and had just seen others treated even worse by the Germans, and decided that they had a chance to give something back. As they drove down road, they took the wine bottles and one by one they would hit a German POW with a bottle as they drove by. Clark thinks that they may have killed some of the Germans when they hit them with the bottles. This is something that Clark may not be proud of today, but I wonder if I would have done the same thing if I had been through what these men had been through.

Clark made it back to one of the “cigarette camps” in Allied territory, and soon Clark’s family was notified of his liberation (see attachments 8, 9, 10). While recovering at the cigarette camp, Clark found that ex-POW’s could get into line and they would be reimbursed for pay missed while a POW. Clark thought, “What the heck, let’s see how many times I can go through this line” and Clark went through several times without being asked any questions.

Clark eventually was put onto a ship back to the States, and arrived back at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey on June 2, 1945. Clark still remembers seeing the Statue of Liberty when they sailed back into New York harbor. One of his buddies said, “You know, she’s been standing there so long waiting for us to get back that I think she changed arms holding that torch!”

Clark was ready to get back to Arkansas, but the Army thought that they had a job for him as a truck driver at Camp Kilmer. An officer got into a truck with Clark and said “it says here that you’re a truck driver, so let’s see what you can do”. When Clark drove that truck, he didn’t once use the clutch to shift gears and wrecked the transmission, and generally did a horrible job of driving that truck. The officer finally told Clark to stop, and said “If you’re a truck driver, I’m a $&^)*$)+*!” and stomped away. Clark didn’t get the truck driver job at Camp Kilmer, and was soon sent back to Camp Claiborne, Louisiana. This was OK, since this was close to Pangburn.

While at Camp Claiborne, Clark became a Drill Instructor to train new soldiers that might be sent to the Pacific war that was still going on. On one visit home, an acquaintance told Clark that she hoped that her son who was going into the Army would get Clark as a DI, so that her son would be treated well in boot camp. Clark told her that if he got her son, he would do her son a favor and work him like a dog, just like the rest of the new soldiers, because that might be the only way he would survive the war.

Finally Clark was discharged from the Army “at the convenience of the Government” on December 2, 1945 as a Sergeant (see attachment 11). At that time, Clark also agreed to enlist in the Inactive Enlisted Reserve. He was told that due to his combat duty and being an ex-POW, he “would be the last person called if the US ever got into another war”. It wasn’t long before the Army forgot about this promise.

After the war, Clark returned to Pangburn and worked as a mechanic at an auto dealership in Heber Springs, and also on a road construction crew in the Pangburn area. Then in 1951, he was one of the first reservists called up to fight in the Korean War. The first American troops in Korea were getting pushed into the sea by the North Koreans and Chinese, and the US Army needed battle hardened troops from WWII right away.

On to Korea

Clark was inducted back in to active duty at Fort Hood, Texas on September 19, 1950 and was soon in South Korea. In the weeks before, the North Korean and Chinese armies had pushed the U.S. Army south from North Korea almost back into the sea in South Korea. Clark was one of the many WWII vets that were called back into service to help fight back the communists.

Clark was assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division, 61st Field Artillery Battalion. As the attached newspaper article shows, everyone usually had to fight during a major battle.

While in Korea, Clark was able to build his own Jeep out of parts from several Jeeps that had been destroyed in battle. The attached photo shows Clark and some friends with the Jeep.

During one battle, Clark’s Division was stationed on top of a hill, and several thousand North Korean and Chinese soldiers attacked. Clark remembers that it was estimated that over 2,000 enemy soldiers had been killed in that battle alone. Since the enemy had more soldiers than weapons, only 1 in 3 or 4 of their soldiers would have a rifle as they attacked the Americans. The ones that didn’t have a rifle still had to go on the attack, and had to pick up a rifle from one of their comrades who had been killed.

Clark was in one battle that was in a Korean city, and was helping fire cannons down a street toward the enemy. The enemy was close enough that the cannons were firing almost level down the street with no arc for distance. This battle went on for many hours, and during the battle Clark was told to take a break. Clark was dead tired, and the only place to lie down was right under the front of the cannons! Clark was so tired that he went right to sleep, even though he was under the barrels of cannons firing. When he was woken up, he found that the blast of the cannons had pushed him several feet down the street!

Clark again found that he was fighting in a winter war, and that it got extremely cold in Korea in the winter. One night Clark’s commander told Clark that a US Army ammunition truck had wrecked behind enemy lines, and that Clark and another soldier had to go in to get it. During the middle of the night, Clark and his buddy drove a tow truck in to get the ammo truck. They quickly drove a few miles behind enemy lines and hooked up the ammo truck, and as they started back, the ammo truck came off the hook and they left it. When they arrived back to friendly territory, their commander told them to go back in and get that truck! Clark and his buddy decided that this time they would keep their headlights off, and that Clark would walk down the road in front of the tow truck with a lit cigarette to guide the tow truck. It was a moon less night and very dark. As Clark walked slowly down the road, he realized that there were hundreds of enemy soldiers sleeping along the sides of the road! Clark looked at them and they looked at him, but they didn’t fire on the Americans. Clark doesn’t know why they let him pass. Two guesses are that it was very cold and they didn’t see an immediate threat, so they didn’t want to get out of a relatively comfortable spot to fight. The other guess is that their commander wasn’t around to order them to fire, so they didn’t.

As they approached the wrecked ammo truck, the tow truck pulled around and Clark hooked up the ammo truck, and then Clark jumped into the ammo truck to steer it as it was towed. The windshield had been broken out, and Clark drove several miles in sub-zero weather with the wind in his face. Shortly after this, Clark came down with pneumonia, but was able to recover in a field hospital. Clark also had to have his appendix removed while in Korea. However, while participating in several battles, Clark never received a serious battle injury.

Clark left Korea in October 1951 and was soon discharged from the Army. The attached letter from Clark’s commander to Clark’s parents shows that the Army wanted Clark to re-enlist, but this time around Clark didn’t even sign up for reserve duty.

After the Korean War, one of Clark’s WWII buddies had written him to say that he had also been to Korea and back. The buddy considered himself lucky because he had gotten through the war without a scratch, but that none of the other 17 soldiers that had started with him in Korea had survived.

After the War – When Clark returned from the war, he lived with his parents for a short time and had a hard time sleeping in a bed and even inside of house. At first he only felt comfortable sleeping on the floor, and even in winter he would need to have a window open because it felt stuffy inside. During this time, Clark’s father would sometimes wake up freezing and would close the window. Soon afterwards, Clark would wake up feeling hot and would open the window. This happened several times each night for several weeks.

When Clark returned to Pangburn after leaving Korea, he married Sarah Grace Whitten of Pangburn on December 23, 1953. Sarah was the 3rd of 4 daughters of James Luther Whitten and Beulah May Baker Whitten of Pangburn. Shortly after being married, Clark and Sarah moved to Wichita, Kansas, where Clark worked at Boeing Aircraft Company. A few weeks earlier, Clark had stopped to visit friends and family in Wichita on the way to California to visit his brother, John. Clark’s brother-in-law, Raymond Stout, was working at Boeing and said that they were hiring, and that Clark should go to Boeing and apply. Clark wasn’t too interested, but thought that it wouldn’t hurt to turn in an application to see what would happen. Clark was hired in January 1954, and retired from Boeing in 1984. Clark and Sarah had one son, James Wesley Marsh, who was born in Wichita on August 27, 1955. Jim graduated from Wichita State with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering in 1978, and now lives in Morgan Hill, CA with his wife Jayne and daughters Lena and Emily. Sarah and Clark were visiting Morgan Hill in the spring of 1995, shortly after the birth of their granddaughter Emily. The night before Clark and Sarah were to drive back to Pangburn, Sarah had a stroke and died in May 1995. She is buried in Henderson Cemetery just outside of Pangburn. Since May 2003, Clark has also lived in Morgan Hill, CA, at the Valley Pines Assisted Living Center, about one-half block from Jim’s family home.

After Clark and Sarah had retired to Pangburn in 1984, many of the local residents of Pangburn were concerned about the poor condition of Henderson Cemetery. Due to lack of funds, the maintenance of the cemetery had been reduced and it was in bad shape. Clark and several other citizens of Pangburn raised money for the maintenance of the cemetery, and created The Henderson Cemetery Trust fund to pay for the improved maintenance of the cemetery. The cemetery has been in great condition for several years and the citizens of Pangburn and the surrounding area are very proud of it.

The local Methodist Church in Pangburn was also having a hard time during this period. Clark’s family had been involved in the founding of the church in the early 1900’s, and Clark and a group of other Pangburn citizens decided that something should be done. They met to discuss a plan of action, and each decided that they could donate funds to design and build a new Community Service Center at the Church, and also renovate the existing Church building. Most of the members of this group were retired, and each of them had talents that they could offer to help rebuild the church. In a few months the work was done, and the attendance at the church began to grow. At one time the church was in danger of loosing the service of a traveling minister who would preach at Pangburn and other nearby towns each Sunday. After the church renovation and a large increase in attendance, the church now has its own minister and continues to grow.

Clark received several medals for his service during these two wars, and after he left the Army they were put away and forgotten. Clark had many more bad than good memories of these wars, and wanted to forget about the war. As his son, I would occasionally hear some of the funny stories about the two wars, but I never heard much about the really horrific things that Clark went through. I’ve often tried to think about where I was in my early 20’s, and how I would have done going through the same things that Dad went through.

Among many things, there was one thing that always impressed me about Dad after going through his WWII and POW experience. Due to the severe cold and lack of winter clothes, and very poor nutrition, Dad did suffer some permanent nerve damage to his lower legs and feet while he was a POW. Because of this, he could have received disability checks for life soon after the war. One time I heard someone ask him why he didn’t accept the disability checks, and he said “I just didn’t want to be getting a letter from the Government every month telling me that I was disabled.” The extra money wasn’t worth having to live with that monthly message.

After retirement, Clark was visiting with his cousin Irvin B. Van Patten in Searcy, who happened to work for the VA. Irvin asked Clark how much of a disability payment he was getting from the VA, and Clark said that he had never gotten anything. As they talked, Irvin started filling out some paper work, and asked Clark to sign it. Clark asked him what this was, and Irvin told him that he should be getting VA benefits and that this would get the ball rolling. Clark has been able to receive Veterans benefits and health care since Irvin sent in that paperwork, and he and his family are very grateful.

Another thing that impressed me was in regards to a friend that Clark had made while working at Boeing Wichita, whose name was Otto Stockman. Otto was from Germany, and had come to the USA after the war. Otto actually still had some sympathy for the Nazi’s, and thought that most everything in Germany was better than the USA. Otto never married and had no kids, and either he walked over to our house or Clark walked over to his apartment almost daily, after Otto retired. Regardless of what Clark had been through during the war, he left all of that behind and was a friend to an older man with no family and few friends.

Medals – Clark received the following during his service in the Army in WWII and the Korean War:

• Bronze Star medal with silver service star
• Member of 52nd Armored Infantry Battalion receiving a Presidential Distinguished Unit Citation from Dwight Eisenhower
• POW medal with bronze service star
• Good conduct medal with bronze clasp and two loops
• American Campaign medal with bronze service star
• European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign medal with 3 bronze service stars
• WWII Victory medal with bronze service star
• National Defense Service medal with bronze service star
• Korean Service medal with 3 bronze service stars
• 61st Field Artillery Battalion Korean War, Presidential Distinguished Unit Citation for actions in the Battle of Pakchon.
• Combat Infantryman badge with bronze service star
• Expert Infantryman Badge with bronze service star
• United Nations Service medal with silver service star
• WWII Honorable Service Lapel Button
• Republic of Korea Medal of Appreciation

May We Never Forget

Clark Dean Marsh,

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

88 Years 11 Months 19 Days

Pangburn United Methodist Church

Pangburn, Arkansas
Saturday, August 14th 2010

10:00 a.m.

Like all servants of God, Clark did more than any of us will ever know.

It was a privilege to have known him.