"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Songs of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Monday, May 25, 2009

My dad had a wooden leg

My Dad, Terrence Miller Clark, had a wooden leg. He lost it the summer after graduating from Comanche High school, when he tried to jump a freight in Tucumcari. N. M., and slipped.

That's another story, but that's why he didn't serve in WWII along with three of his brothers.

He helped the war effort, working for Consolidated Aircraft in Fort Worth as a draftsman, drawing some of the plans for the B-24 Liberators that would bomb Hitler. And he drew a portrait of Ernie Pyle, the war correspondent, that was auctioned off in Dallas for $1 million in War Bonds. That's another story too.

His last surviving brother, Michael, now lives in Santa Fe. He's an old sea dog...his words to me yesterday on the phone. He was Petty Office Second Class Clark, a signalman who used semaphore flags to send messages between ships. In WWI, he was on a small sub chaser, hunting German U-Boats in the Caribbean. When Korea came along, he was on an LST, landing troops at the Inchon landing. You can't believe the number of stories he can tell.

Uncle Rex T. Clark enlisted in the Army and was stationed in England in the medical corps. He was commissioned, and General Ike pinned his bars on. Uncle Champ Clark, the baby of the family, was stationed in the cold Aleutians, guarding us against the Japanese. I have the letter Champ wrote Dad when he heard over the radio that Dad's portrait had brought %1 million. More stories.

My granddad, Erle Thweatt Clark, served in the Spanish American War.
My great-great granddad Batte Peterson Clark, served with the U.S. Army in the Mexican War in an Alabama unit, and later with the Confederate State's Army in a Texas unit defending the homeland. More stories. Have you been to Vicksburg and seen the National Cemetery and the Confederate Cemetery?

Some of this last information comes from T/Sgt. Vance C. Clark, USAF, who has survived a stint in Baghdad, and is the first grandson of Terrence Miller Clark.
Sgt. Clark digs into family history like his granddad did.

To all of our kinfolk, and to all those who have served, and are serving...on this Memorial Day, don't let the stories die, and let's snap a salute!

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