World War II veteran Carl Clark of Menlo Park will, at long last, be presented an award for his heroic actions 66 years ago aboard a ship bombed by kamikaze planes: Secretary of the U.S. Navy Ray Mabus will join Congresswoman Anna Eshoo for a Jan. 17 ceremony at Moffett Field to make the presentation.
The ceremony, at which Mr. Clark will receive the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with the Combat Distinguishing Device, is set for 1 p.m., and an invitation from Rep. Eshoo's office is needed to attend.
The belated honor for Mr. Clark, 95, is the result of a two-year effort by Congresswoman Eshoo, D-Menlo Park. After Ms. Eshoo learned of Mr. Clark's heroism aboard the USS Aaron Ward -- actions that saved the lives of fellow crewmen and in all likelihood prevented the ship for burning and sinking -- she sought out and secured the testimony of one of the few surviving officers of the ship.
In November 2010, she sent a letter to Secretary Mabus, writing: "The Aaron Ward became one of only two ships in naval history to endure so many kamikaze hits and survive -- and Carl Clark is the reason why. (His) efforts that night are why so many survived and one of the main reasons the ship did not capsize."
After the May 1945 attack and Mr. Clark's response, the ship's captain told Mr. Clark he would make every effort to have him awarded for his heroism, but those efforts were unsuccessful. Mr. Clark, supported by the historical record of racism in the military, attributes the denial of a commendation to the fact that he is black.
Those interested in attending the event who have not already received an invitation may request one by calling Rep. Eshoo's office at 323-2984 as soon as possible. Attendees are asked to arrive at Moffett no later than 12:30 p.m.