CLARENCE F. BLAIR, LT, USN

From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Clarence Blair '40

Date of birth: February 28, 1918

Date of death: July 1, 1944

Age: 26

Lucky Bag

From the 1940 Lucky Bag:


Loss

Kelly was lost when his F6F-3 Hellcat crashed while attempting a carrier landing near the Bonin Islands in the Pacific on July 1, 1944.

From the war diary of Fighting Squadron (VF) 13, via Matthew Robins '04:

First tragic loss sustained by the squadron was that of "Kelly" Blair, who spun in while making a carrier landing approach on 1 July 1944. Joining the Navy as a "boot" in 1936, Lieut. Blair was appointed to the Naval Academy the following year. He was graduated and commissioned Ensign in 1940 and completed the Navy flight training program. Following a tour of duty on board the USS CHICAGO, on which he was serving when war was declared, he joined Fighting Squadron Thirteen as Executive Officer 1 November 1943. Both loved and respected by every member of the squadron, the boy from Arriba, Colo. is survived by his widow, the former Phyllis Durgin, daughter of Rear Admiral C. T. Durgin, U.S.N.

His wife was listed as next of kin. He has a memorial marker in Colorado.

Memorial Hall Error

Clarence is listed on the killed in action panel in the front of Memorial Hall, but his loss was not due to enemy action.

Navy Directories & Officer Registers

The "Register of Commissioned and Warrant Officers of the United States Navy and Marine Corps" was published annually from 1815 through at least the 1970s; it provided rank, command or station, and occasionally billet until the beginning of World War II when command/station was no longer included. Scanned copies were reviewed and data entered from the mid-1840s through 1922, when more-frequent Navy Directories were available.

The Navy Directory was a publication that provided information on the command, billet, and rank of every active and retired naval officer. Single editions have been found online from January 1915 and March 1918, and then from three to six editions per year from 1923 through 1940; the final edition is from April 1941.

The entries in both series of documents are sometimes cryptic and confusing. They are often inconsistent, even within an edition, with the name of commands; this is especially true for aviation squadrons in the 1920s and early 1930s.

Alumni listed at the same command may or may not have had significant interactions; they could have shared a stateroom or workspace, stood many hours of watch together… or, especially at the larger commands, they might not have known each other at all. The information provides the opportunity to draw connections that are otherwise invisible, though, and gives a fuller view of the professional experiences of these alumni in Memorial Hall.

June 1940

Ensign, USS Chicago

Others at this command: LCDR Robert Bedilion '22, LT William Graham, Jr. '25, ENS Paul Benthin '38, ENS Joseph Harmon '39, and ENS Burton Haker '40.

Others at or embarked at this command: LCDR Everett Abdill '24 (Cruiser Division 5).

November 1940

Ensign, USS Chicago

Others at this command: LCDR Robert Bedilion '22, LT William Graham, Jr. '25, ENS Herold Harveson '37, ENS Joseph Harmon '39, and ENS Burton Haker '40.

Others at or embarked at this command: LCDR Everett Abdill '24 (Cruiser Division 4).

April 1941

Ensign, USS Chicago

Others at this command: LCDR Robert Bedilion '22, LCDR William Graham, Jr. '25, LT Ward Bronson '31, ENS Herold Harveson '37, ENS Joseph Harmon '39, ENS Burton Haker '40, and ENS Bruce Simonds '41.

Others at or embarked at this command: LT John Armstrong, Jr. '30 (Cruiser Division 4).


Class of 1940

Clarence is one of 91 members of the Class of 1940 on Virtual Memorial Hall.