Today: Commendation ceremony for Carl Clark

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.


Like this comment
Posted by Brian Belding
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 12, 2012 at 1:53 pm

I am looking forward to attending the ceremony on Tuesday with a number of my students from Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto. They are very excited and honored to be able to share in such an important day for a true hero. To be recognized 66 years later is a beautiful way to rectify past injustices. There is nothing positive to gain from complaining about the unfair treatment others received in the past, but this ceremony is a beneficial way to begin to acknowledge to mistakes made in the past and point out to others (especially young people!) that through the hard work of a few concerned citizens (spearheaded by Sheila Dunec!), positive change can be made in society without anger, hatred, name-calling, or violence. A simple recognition can be very powerful, and I look forward to attending!

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