For six days, Maj. Leonard Clark and five other airmen drifted in the Pacific Ocean as the sun beat down on their bruised and bloodied bodies.
Saltwater stung each time a large wave washed over the side of their inflatable raft. Sharks crept precariously close, retreating only when the battered airmen mustered the strength to swing their boots at them.
The airmen survived a crash and beat away sharks, but it was just the beginning of the horror they would withstand as they became prisoners in Japan during World War II.
Clark, a bomber pilot, flew missions over the Pacific theater during World War II for the 5th Air Force’s 403rd Bombardment Squadron, 43rd Bomb Group, which is the modern-day 43rd Air Mobility Operations Group at Pope Field. He and other members of his squad taken by Japanese forces at Kyushu island in 1945 will be among 31 airmen honored in a new POW/MIA memorial at Pope Field on Friday.
“I think about the freedoms that these men fought for,” said Susan Clark Lanson, the pilot’s daughter. “It’s important to remember and honor these men. We’re not going to forget their sacrifices.”
Read the story here: http://www.fayobserver.com/news/20170907/airmen-missing-in-action-to-be-honored-in-new-memorial
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