Military Order of the Purple Heart

Texas Capital Chapter 1919 Austin, Texas

 

CLYDE CARMAN
1924 - 2007

 

 

 


15TH AIR FORCE

PATCH


CLYDE S. CARMAN

Patriot, Chapter 1919

 Air Force, WWII, Europe

 

Clyde S. Carman was born in Schenectady, New York in 1924.  His family lived in Saugerties when he was in grade school and then moved to Poughkeepsie where he was a senior in High School when America was attacked at Pearl Harbor.  He enlisted as soon as he turned eighteen, signing up with the understanding that he would not be called to active duty until after graduation in the Spring of 1942.  However, he reported, as ordered, to the induction station in New York City and was sworn in on April 28, 1942, less than two weeks before the rest of his class graduated at Poughkeepsie High School without him.

 

Clyde went through basic and advanced individual training in Miami, Florida.  Because of a shortage of military training installations early in WWII, civilian facilities were pressed into service and so Private Carman was billeted in a Miami hotel and trained on what had been a golf course.  After that initial course, he was assigned to a Bomb Group in Lakeland, Florida where he flew Sub-Patrol missions off the Florida Coast.  When his Bomb Group was ordered to Europe, Clyde was among a small group of the men with insufficient training to qualify for overseas deployment, so he was left behind.  He then went through the Army Specialized Training Program in Engineering at the University of Alabama (after the war the University of Alabama conferred a bachelor’s degree in engineering to Clyde and the other graduates of that program).

 

After that, he was selected for cadet school and went through pre-flight training in Montgomery, Alabama and flight school (class ’43-I) at Decatur, Alabama.  However, by the time he had cycled through the program there was an excess of trained pilots; and partly because he had prior experience in photography, Clyde Carman was then sent to Denver, Colorado for training in aerial photography.

 

He was then posted to Sioux Falls Army Airfield in South Dakota, and there, he met and married a local girl, a Miss Lillian Wentz.  From there, Clyde was ordered to Colorado Springs, Colorado where B-24 crews were being formed and put through crew training, and Lillian went with him.  He was assigned as the Camera Operator of a specially equipped B-24H that had an array of cameras installed in the space normally occupied by the bomb racks.  By late May 1944, their training complete, the crew deployed their aircraft to Europe.

 

Following the South Atlantic Ferry Route, they moved in stages, with the first step being a flight down to Florida. Lillian followed from Colorado Springs and it was not until the plane was ready to depart the United States that Clyde sent her back home to South Dakota.  Then, from Florida the crew flew to Puerto Rico, and from there, to British Guiana and on down to the eastern-most tip of Brazil. The longest leg of the journey was the flight from Natal across the South Atlantic to Africa arriving in Dakar, Senegal.  Then after staging up through North Africa, on June 5, 1944, eleven days after leaving the United States, they flew into Giulia Field near Cerignola, Italy, home base of their new unit, the 759th Bomb Squadron, 459th Bomb Group of the 15th Air Force.

 

The photo plane “Our Baby” flew 27 combat missions.  Normally they would arrive over the target area about 30 minutes after a bombing raid, with Camera Operator, Sergeant Clyde Carman, taking pictures for headquarters to use in bomb damage assessment.  Clyde says, “Bill Zorb was our aircraft commander, he had a clear understanding of what I had to do and he became very good, knowing just how to bring the plane in to my best advantage for getting good pictures.”

 

The photo reconnaissance aircraft from outward appearances was a normally configured B-24 bomber and that lone aircraft coming in after a bombing raid, especially one looking just like the planes that had dropped the bombs, naturally attracted a spirited and hostile response from the ground.  On July 17, 1944, “Our Baby” flew its last mission.  Operation “Anvil-Dragoon,” the invasion of Southern France had just been launched and Clyde Carman was photographing the target of an earlier bombing mission in support of that operation when the aircraft was hit with heavy FLAK over the target area.  Clyde took a shoulder wound from a shell fragment and Lieutenants Hoff and Slavkin, and Sergeant Peake were also wounded.

 

The pilot managed to keep the badly damaged B-24 in the air long enough to get out of France, but just barely.  They put the plane down in the middle of the ships of the invasion fleet offshore of the Cote d’Azure.  “Our Baby” remained afloat long enough for the closest ships to send small boats and take off the plane’s crew before it sank (editor’s note:  several of our chapter members were in the invasion of Southern France and Clyde’s plane went into the water in spectacular fashion in full view of tens of thousands of men who participated in or supported the landing.  If you saw his B-24 splash down in the middle of the fleet, tell Clyde about it).

 

It took several days for the men to be returned to their unit in Italy and by the time they got back to Giulia Field, Clyde’s shoulder wound had become badly infected.  Sergeant Carman was hospitalized in the Bomb Group’s hospital in Cerignola, a well equipped civilian hospital building that had been taken over by Air Force’s medical personnel.  He was reassigned to 15th Air Force Headquarters in Bari upon his release from the hospital.  Clyde Carman’s flying days were over.  For the remainder of the war he worked with bomb target maps in the headquarters and he was promoted to Staff Sergeant.

 

After the war ended, Clyde Carman returned to the United States in August 1945.  He was discharged at Camp McCoy, Wisconsin in October and went home to Lillian in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  He remained in the reserves for another 6 years after leaving active duty.  Clyde was employed by General Electric.  In that job he worked a large area of the mid-west while maintaining a home in Sioux Falls. Finally, he says, “I got tired of freezing to death , so we moved to Texas in 1957.”

 

They had family connections in Texas so it was easy to make the transition.  Except for a brief stay in Florida while Clyde assisted his parents there during their declining years, Clyde and Lillian had resided in the Austin area for nearly 50 years before Lillian’s death, on Valentine’s Day of this year.  Clyde Carman has been a life member of Chapter 1919 for nearly seven years.

Clyde Carman provided this Purple Heart story for publication in the September 2006 issue of PATRIOT BULLETIN.  Clyde died in December 2007.


AIR FORCES PHOTO OF A  FORMATION OF B-24 BOMBERS DURING A  MISSION

CREW OF THE 759th SQDN  B-24 “OUR BABY”

FROM FRONT LEFT: PILOT  BILL ZORB, CO-PILOT LT EDWARDS, NAVIGATOR LIEUT HOFF, BOMBARDIER LIEUT MORRIS SLAVKIN STANDING FROM LEFT: CAMERA OPERATOR SGT CLYDE CARMAN, TOP TURRET GUNNER SGT LEROY HOSSLER, WAIST GUNNER SGT WARREN PEAKE, AND THE FLIGHT ENGINEER SGT AL HOLESKO

759th SQUADRON  B-24 “OUR BABY”

CAMERA OPERATOR SGT CLYDE S. CARMAN PREPARES TO SERVICE HIS EQUIPMENT BEFORE THE NEXT MISSION - 1944

B24 - Official Checklist B24 - Official Checklist

STAFF SERGEANT CLYDE S. CARMAN

1945

STAFF SERGEANT CLYDE S. CARMAN

1945


TOP PHOTO

 

AIRMAN CLYDE CARMAN

1943


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