Carmen Charles Clark was born on 2 May 1922, to Harley and Mae Clark. His mother had complications at birth that took her immediately to the hospital. Carmen's naming was delayed until a month later, when family placed names in a hat. He always hated his first name, but used it. Used to say he wished they had pulled Charles out first. Indeed he spent life being confused as a female when only his name was known.
His family moved to East Chicago/Hammond, Indiana during the depression, looking for work. They lived at the Salvation Army, where his mother was employed as a cook.
They later returned to Billett, IL (RR1, St.Francisville, IL) purchasing a farm. Carmen and his older brother Paul hunted for food and worked on the farm. Carmen attended Billett School, finishing 8th grade. There was no ability to send him to high school, so he continued to labor on the family farm until he was 16. At that age, his parents emancipated him and moved away. He then lived with his father's sister, Fern Leighty (Guy). The Leighty's were childless, and welcomed Carmen to their home. There, he stayed, helping them with their home and farm.
Carmen's sister, Zelma Clark Payne and husband Charles had moved to Black Oak, Indiana (a neighborhood southwest of Gary) and began a family. Carmen moved in with them, and began working as a laborer in a mill. He carried slag by wheelbarrow, heavy manual labor. WW2 had begun, and Carmen decided to enlist in the US Army. Upon physical examination, it was mentioned to him that he was the fittest recruit seen.
One month after enlistment, Carmen was transferred to the US Army Air Corps and sent to San Bernadino, CA to Flight Engineering School. It was announced at the first day of training that three men present did not attend high school, and if they needed additional help to stand. Carmen said, "I never knew who the other two were, and they never knew me." He graduated third in his class.
He was transferred to Montana, where he first served as a flight mechanic. Later, he was notified of another transfer - to Reykjavik, Iceland. When he reported for transfer, the office in charge realized that Carmen held every service paper in his possession, and joked that he could either walk away and no one would know, or the officer could send him someplace warmer. Carmen said, I like warmer. He arrived in India, with a full Arctic issue of clothing. No one said a word, just exchanged the coats for summer wear.
Sergeant Carmen Clark became crew chief in Jorhat, India, joining UK and Australian soldiers in sending our aircraft for support of the Burma Lift to China. He camped in open huts with snakes, tigers and monkeys, and came home suffering with jungle rot after the war.
Following the war, he returned to Billett. There was no train stop scheduled, but the conductor had the train slow down and as Carmen jumped to the ground, the conductor threw him his bags. He walked the mile home. As he said, "Such was the welcome of one WW2 veteran coming home." His parents had returned to the family farm, so he joined them.
Carmen worked as a mechanic in Vincennes, IN at a Car Dealership. He walked the six miles to work and back until he could afford a car.
Carmen chose to not use the GI Bill to continue his education. Entering High School as a veteran was not what he wanted to do. However, Carmen loved to read newspapers and kept learning throughout his life. His grade school teacher told me that he felt Carmen was one of the smartest students he had in 8th grade.
He met Ruth Mallory, a childhood friend from school and church. They quickly married October 26, 1946.
He later found employment with the Ohio Oil Company as a driller. Many Billett men returning from WW2 went to work in the oil fields. Carmen would travel and live with other workers on site as they drilled oil wells in central and southern Illinois. On the night before his daughter's birth, he was hit in the head atop the rig, and fell to the ground. He was okay. This moment always haunted him that he could have died before seeing her.
Carmen was a tremendously healthy man. In 1984, he contracted the flu and went to the hospital. His medical history was that his last doctor visit had been in 1957 when he had a ganglion cyst removed. Later, it was found that the "flu" had included a light heart attack. In the final ten years of life, he lived with heart trouble and COPD. This combination eventually became the cause of his death.
He died at Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital in Lincoln, Illinois following three months of being either in the hospital or in rehabilitation care. His funeral was in Lawrenceville, and he was buried in Billett Cemetery.
Ruth Mallory Clark's biography includes the details of their continued life.
Vincennes Sun-Commercial (IN) - Wednesday, May 18, 2011
LAWRENCEVILLE, Ill. — Carmen Charles Clark, 89, went to be with His Lord at 8:50 a.m. Wednesday, May 18, 2011, at Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital in Lincoln.
He was born on May 2, 1922, in Lawrence County, to Harley R. and Bertha Mae Lawrence Clark. He married Ruth Beatrice Mallory on Oct. 26, 1946, and she survives.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by daughter, Bonita (Clark) Quandt and her husband, Robert, of Mason City; a grandson, Evan Frisby of Clemmons, N.C.; a step-grandson, Wade Quandt of Franklin, Wis.; a step-granddaughter, Traci (Quandt) Murashka and her husband, Oleg, of Sierra Vista, Ariz.; and two step-great-grandchildren.
His parents; and two siblings, Paul Wilber Clark and Zelma Fern Payne, preceded him in death.
Carmen served in the U.S. Army Air Corps in India during World War II. He was an oil field worker, who retired from Tri-state Drilling to begin a second career in of turkey farming. He served as a member of the school board for Billett and Fillmore schools. Carmen loved Jesus Christ and was an active member of the St. Francisville United Methodist Church. He read the Bible daily, finishing it each year then starting over. He also loved to fish and garden; raising vegetables and flowers to share.
He was a loving man who will be greatly missed by his family and friends.
A viewing will be at 9 a.m. CDT Saturday at Smith Funeral Home in Lawrenceville, with a funeral service at 11 a.m., with the Rev. Mick Laflin officiating. Burial will be at Billett Cemetery.
MyHeritage.com [online database]. Lehi, UT, USA: MyHeritage (USA) Inc. https://www.myheritage.com/research/collection-10134/1930-united-states-federal-census Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Fifteenth Census of the United States, 1930. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration publication T626, 2,667 rolls.
Record: https://www.myheritage.com/research/record-10134-162883671/carmen-clark-in-1930-united-states-federal-census Carmen Clark in household of Harley Clark Year: 1930; State: Illinois; County: Lawrence; Township: Denison; NARA Publication: T626; NARA Roll: 532; Enum. District: 9; Sheet: 3-A; Page: 705; Line: 5
Citation: Carmen Clark Birth: Circa 1923 - Illinois, United States Residence: 1930 - Denison, Lawrence, Illinois, USA Parents: Harley Clark, May Clark Siblings: Zelma Clark, Paul Clark
MyHeritage.com [online database]. Lehi, UT, USA: MyHeritage (USA) Inc. https://www.myheritage.com/research/collection-10022/us-world-war-ii-army-enlistment
Citation: Carmen C Clark Birth: 1922 - Illinois Residence: Lawrence, Illinois, USA Enlistment: Oct 14 1942 - Scott Field, Illinois, USA
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