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Sgt Fred Lee "Chief" Clarke
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Birth: Jan. 28, 1932
Iredell County
North Carolina, USA
Death: May 28, 1974, Laos

US Air Force Chief Master Sergeant(CMSGT) Fred Lee Clarke, Vietnam Veteran, Native of Statesville, NC.

US Air Force Chief Master Sergeant (CMSGT) Fred Lee Clarke was a member of the Air Force, CMS Clarke served our country until May 28th, 1974 in Laos. He was 42 years old and was married. Fred died when his plane crashed. His body was not recovered. CMS Clarke is on panel 36W, line 014 of the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington D.C.

Fred Lee Clarke, Chief Master Sergeant, Unit: 606th Special Operations Squadron, Serial Number: 237428092, Date of Birth: 28-Jan-32, Date of Death: 13-Dec-68, City: Troutman, State: NC. Notes: Chief Master Sergeant Clarke was a member of the 606th Air Commando Squadron, Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai Airfield, Thailand. On December 13, 1968, he was a crew member of a Fairchild Provider Cargo Aircraft (C-123K) on a night mission along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. About 30 miles southwest of the Ban Karai Pass a B-52 bomber struck the C-132, causing it to crash. His remains were not recovered. His name is inscribed on the Courts of the Missing at the Honolulu Memorial.

The Mission: On 13 December 1968 a C-123K PROVIDER of the 606th Special Operations Squadron launched from Nakhon Phanom RTAFB, Thailand, on a night FAC mission over the Ho Chi Minh Trail area. The low-and-slow C-123K's mission was to obtain visual or infrared sightings of traffic along the Trail and to act as a controller for bombers - in this case, B-57 CANBERRA bombers from the 8th Tactical Bomber Squadron, Phan Rang AB, SVN.

Weather conditions along the Trail were good - clear with a half moon, ground fog, no wind and no cloud ceiling. At 0300 hours, as a B-57 was executing an attack against ground targets, the B-57 collided with the upper surface of the circling C-123K. Both aircraft - and nine air crewmen - went down. Only one, 1st Lt Thomas M. Turner from the C-123 was rescued. The others simply disappeared into the Laotian jungles about 30 miles southwest of the Ban Kari Pass. A ground search was impossible due to total enemy control of the area, but airborne search-and-rescue operations continued until termination on 15 December, when the formal SAR effort was terminated.

None of the men returned with other POWs in February 1973, nor did any of the released POWs have knowledge of the CANDLESTICK or YELLOWBIRD crewmen. As time passed, the Secretary of the Air Force approved Presumptive Findings of Death for the eight missing crewmen, including Chief Master Sergeant(CMS)Fred L. Clarke (28 May 1974). None of the eight men have ever been repatriated. Richard Riley,

OBITUARY: FRED LEE CLARKE DECLARED DEAD. A Statesville Native, Chief Master Sergeant Fred Lee Clarke, who had been listed as missing in action in Southeast Asia since December 13, 1968, has officially been declared dead by the Pentagon. His wife, Mrs Louis R Sherrill Clarke, of Route 1, Troutman, was notified of the reclassification Tuesday by the Pentagon. Clarke was among 10 US Air Force personnel now declared dead. The latest announcement reduces the number of men listed as missing in action to 1059. When the Vietnam War officially ended last year, the number of missing was 1,363. Clarke was the son of Mrs Elizabeth Gibbs of Miller Avenue, Statesville, and attended Morningside High School. He enlisted in the Air Force in July 1950. In addition to his wife and mother, survivors include one son, Gary Clarke and five daughters, Mrs Angela Clarke Byers, Sophia Clarke, Michelle Clarke, Leslie Clarke, and Norma Jean Clarke of Troutman, NC.

He served with the 606th Special Operations Squadron, 56th Special Operations Wing, 7th Air Force.

He was awarded The Purple Heart Medal for his combat related wounds, The Vietnam Service Medal with One Bronze Star, The Republic of Vietnam Campaign Service Medal, The National Defense Service Medal, The Good Conduct Medal and The Air Medal with Multiple Oak Leaf Clusters.

Honolulu Memorial *
Honolulu County
Hawaii, USA
Plot: Courts of the Missing
*Cenotaph [?]
Created by: Tom Reece
Record added: Jan 13, 2007
Find A Grave Memorial# 17425966
Sgt Fred Lee Chief Clarke
Added by: Sherry SH
Sgt Fred Lee Chief Clarke
Added by: Tom Reece
Sgt Fred Lee Chief Clarke
Added by: Tom Reece
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Although I never met Chief Clarke, I have thought about him often over the years. I have worn a POW/MIA bracelet with his name since AF Basic Training in 1997.My thoughts and prayers to his family.
- Guy
 Added: Apr. 26, 2013

- Eddieb
 Added: Apr. 12, 2012
From a Sister of PFC:William L Young Jr, KIA in Vietnam..Thank You for your Service to Our Country,Chief!
- Judy Green
 Added: Mar. 3, 2011
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