In Memory of
Army Air Corps Technical Sergeant
Eugene Michael Clemens
Chamberlain, South Dakota
Brule County
September 15, 1915 – August 2, 1942
Died in a Plane Crash in Australia

Eugene Michael Clemens

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 Register.