In Memory of
Army Air Corps Technical Sergeant
Eugene Michael Clemens
Chamberlain, South Dakota
September 15, 1915 – August 2, 1942
Died in a Plane Crash in Australia
Eugene Michael Clemens, or Mike as his family and friends knew him, grew up
in Chamberlain, South Dakota where he attended high school and graduated in
1937. On September 8, 1937, Mike enlisted in the Army Air Corps at Hamilton
Field, California. Later, he trained at Ft. Douglas, Utah.
Tech. Sergeant Clemens was among the crew aboard a B-17 Flying Fortress which
blew up over the mountains in California and Nevada on November 2, 1941. As the
Tech. Sergeant, after noting the problems with the aircraft, Clemens commanded
his crew to eject, and pulled the hatch, jumping at an altitude of sixteen or
seventeen hundred feet. In later describing his ordeal, he stated that after
pulling his parachute, “I could hear the airplane breaking up in the air but
couldn’t see it because the fog and soup, as we call it, was so thick and then
finally heard it crash as I was descending.” In landing Tech. Sergeant Clemens
suffered minor injuries.
Early in 1942, Staff Sergeant Clemens was sent to Hawaii and was involved in
missions against the Japanese in the South Pacific area as part of the 28th
Bomber Squadron, 19th Bomber Group. Clemens tried to make contact
with his parents during the first part of each month. About June 1, he wired
his mother, presumably from Australia: “Everything is okay. Will write later.
Tell everybody hello.” In July, he wired his mother a birthday greeting.
After receiving no message from him in August, Eugene’s family contacted the
Red Cross who attempted to locate him. In September, his family was notified
that he was listed as “missing.” Eugene Clemens was killed when his plane went
down in a thick fog on August 2 or 3, 1942. The wreckage of his plane was not
recovered until later, and then his family was officially notified of his
death. Eugene is listed on the Tablets of the Missing at Manila American
Cemetery and was awarded the Air Medal and the Purple Heart. His presumptive
date of death was January 7, 1946.
This entry was respectfully
submitted by Jared Thomas and Michelle Gilman, 8th grade language
arts, Chamberlain Middle School, Chamberlain, South Dakota. Information for
this entry was provided by Mrs. Pearl Waybright and by the Chamberlain