Recognizing the military service of men and women from Arenzville, Illinois.
Clyde was a member of the 17th Troop Carrier Squadron and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for an incident which occurred over Burma in April 1944. Below is the account of the incident, as written by the pilot, Capt. Hal M. Scrugham:
On 25 April, 1944 the 64th Troop Carrier Group was engaged in resupplying elements of the British Army that were under siege by the Japanese in the Indian state of Imphal on the Indo‑Burmese border. On this date, 17th Sq. planes were loading cargo at Sylhet, Assam state and flying them to the various dirt strips in the Imphal City area.
Return trips were carrying wounded, a group of Sikh troops being relieved from combat, were returning empty; or, the most dangerous of all cargoes – empty 55 gal. gasoline drums.
At about 10:00 AM on the above date, twenty-five Sikh soldiers were loaded onto C-47 224-170 piloted by Capt. H. M. Scrugham and Lt. Al Jost, co-pilot. The weather was clear and the take-off normal. The crew climbed to 5000 feet to clear the mountain pass west of Imphal. Some ten minutes after take-off, Imphal radio began broadcasting "Bandits - Bandits - Bandits." Without trying to locate them, Scrugham shoved forward the wheel into a steep dive. In a matter of seconds, a Zero approaching from astern, chopped off approximately seven feet of the rudder and vertical stabilizer of the aircraft.
The aircraft already in a dive, immediately went into a steep, diving left turn. By both pilots putting both feet on the right rudder pedal and twisting the wheel to full right, they were able to pull out of the dive and almost straighten the plane. A right turn was impossible.
T/Sgt. Dean Durst, crew chief looked to the rear through the navigation dome and reported little remaining of the rudder and vertical stabilizer. Durst also reported that a second Zero was attacking from astern firing both machine puns and a cannon. Tracers were observed by both pilots as the Zero overshot its target. Durst reported that the Zero made several more passes but except for several .30 caliber holes in the tail area, no further damage was sustained. After some minutes, Durst reported that the Zero had apparently broken off the attack.
Both pilots had lost all sense of location during the encounter. When the remaining Zero broke off the attacks, they steered West toward India. Left turns were easy -- either pilot could slack off on either rudder or aileron and the turn was immediate. Right turns were made by making 270°'s. After about an hour, they spotted the RAF aerodrome at Shamshernagar, about 30 miles South of Sylhet. As they slowed down to about 110 MPH, they found that one man could control the flight controls. With the other controlling the engines, a wheel-down landing was made.
Upon landing, an RAF officer interrogated the crew and passengers.
The senior NCO of the Sikh troops aboard reported that he had seen the first Zero crash into the nearby mountain and exploded following the collision. A C-47 crew from the 17th Sq. returned the crew to their base.
Scrugham was later told that there were seven C-47's in the area when they were intercepted by an estimated 20 Zero's returning from an attack in India. Two C-47's were from 17th Sq., two from a British Dakota Sq. and three ATC C-47's. Two [Zeroes] attacked 224-170, three attacked the other 17th plane piloted by Lt. Brandt McIntyre and Lt. Brantley. McIntyre's plane received heavy damage including loss of five feet of the right wing tip when he pulled out of a dive and struck a palm tree. There were three dead and 17 wounded among his Sikh passengers. One crew member was wounded slightly. The remaining C-47's with their crews and passengers were destroyed by the Japanese.
Clyde passed away at the age of 91 on Sept. 30, 2007.
For more information about the 17th Troop Carrier Squadron, see their unit website at: http://www.firebirds.org/menu1/menu1.htm
For more information about the Distinguished Flying Cross, click on the image below: