CLARENCE R. PLANK, ENS, USN

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Lucky Bag

1948 Plank LB.jpg

From the 1948-A Lucky Bag:

Clarence Rexford Plank

Beatrice, Nebraska

Rex, the "cosmo," Plank, after finishing high school in fair Beatrice, Nebraska, started down the long trail towards Navy wings of gold. However, the aspirant young pilot became temporarily detached from Naval Aviation in order to come to the Naval Academy. His very pleasing personality and easygoing manner have gained him many friends in the Navy. Rex's staunch diligence, application, and adeptness enabled him to do well in academics and athletics. Track, soccer, and dragging occupied most of his athletic endeavor. The future probably will find Rex, accompanied by his pipe and dog, before a fireplace reading Plato's works. Rex will be of great value in any of his future activities.

Clarence was a member of the Stamp Club. He graduated with the class of 1948-A, the last of the wartime-accelerated classes, in June 1947. (The bottom half of the class by academic standing, designated 1948-B, completed an extra year and graduated in June 1948.)

Career

An article in the Beatrice Daily Sun on October 11, 1948 mentioned that Clarence had recently returned to visit family after deploying to the Mediterranean Sea as Training Officer of USS Kearsarge (CV-33); he was leaving shortly for duty at NAS Pensacola.

Loss

From New England Aviation History:

One of the worst military aviation accidents to occur in Rhode Island in terms of loss of life occurred on June 1, 1950, at the Quonset Point Naval Air Station. On that day, a P2V-2 Neptune aircraft, (Bu. No. 122454), left Jacksonville, Florida, and landed at Quonset to refuel before proceeding on to Newfoundland. After the brief stop-over, the Neptune resumed its journey.

Shortly after leaving Quonset, a fire developed in one of the engines forcing the pilot to declare an emergency and turn back. As the aircraft was making its final approach on runway 34, a strong gusty cross-wind suddenly caught the wing and flipped it over while still in the air. The plane crashed down on the runway and the fully loaded fuel tanks exploded. The pilot and co-pilot managed to escape through emergency hatches, but the other nine men aboard were killed.

The dead were identified as:

  • Lt. (Jg.) Clarence R. Plank, 25. He’s buried in Evergreen Home Cemetery in Beatrice, Nebraska.
  • Ensign David M. Arter, 23. He’s buried in Lisbon Cemetery in Lisbon, Ohio.
  • Midshipman Clarence A. Payne. (No further info.)
  • Chief Aviation Machinist Mate Francis J. Mc Swiggan, 34. He’s buried in Beverly national Cemetery in Beverly, New Jersey.
  • Chief Aviation Electrician’s Mate Huilette E. Fountain, 29. He’s buried in Elmwood cemetery in Birmingham, Alabama.
  • Chief Aviation Structural Mechanic Clarence A. Thorson Sr., 27. He’s buried in Cypress Grove Cemetery in New Orleans, Louisiana. For more information and a photograph of Clarence, see www.findagrave.com, Memorial #5660419.
  • Chief Aviation Electricians Mate Harvey D. Thomas. He’s buried in Oakland Cemetery in Dallas, Texas.
  • Chief Aviation Machinist Mate John A. Seger, 27. He’s buried in Garden of Memories Cemetery in Salinas, California.
  • Aviation Ordinance Mate 1st Class Peter Rapnick. (No further info.)

The aircraft was assigned to VP-3 based in Jacksonville and was piloted by the squadron commander.

Family

He was survived by, at least, his brother Robert Plank '53, who passed away in 2016.


Class Navigation

Class of 1948
Clarence is one of 46 members of the Class of 1948 in Memorial Hall.
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