EDGAR J. CLAYTON, CDR, USN

From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Edgar Clayton '46

Date of birth: March 8, 1923

Date of death: March 19, 1963

Age: 40

Lucky Bag

From the 1946 Lucky Bag:

Loss

From Blue Moon over Cuba: Aerial Reconnaissance during the Cuban Missile Crisis:

Cdr Clayton was killed in a night landing accident on March 19, 1963 while trying to land back aboard USS Saratoga (CVA 60) in F8D BuNo 147920.

Ed's body was not recovered, and there is no memorial marker for him. An email from his son on January 20, 2018 provided his birthdate; his son was seven years old at the time of his death.

Remembrances

From an email from Daniel Clayton on January 22, 2018:

I don’t know much about how he would have been as a father because I was only eight when he died. From what my mother told me during my rebellious teen years I’m sure he would have been quite strict and all military. I know from the family stories that, while he had a great sense of humor, he was also very serious about being the best he could be.

He was the oldest of four children and was held in high regard by his parents, siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles. Quite the hero of the family. When he was 14 his father switched from being a hard partying drinker to a committed religious man. My father could not accept being sent off to a missionary school and wanted a more worldly education. He ran away from home and was taken in by his mother’s sister’s family who I inherited as if they were another set of grandparents and aunts.

He was the salutatorian of Paintsville HS and through a cousin that was the headmaster of Morehead college was able to get into there on a scholarship. As his first semester came to an end in December 1941 the world changed. He went to his best friend’s father, the US congressman for their district and got his appointment to the naval academy. From that beginning he became a career Naval Officer. He was a gunnery officer on the destroyer escort USS Wilson and saw action in the last months of the war. He got his wings in 1949.

In the early fifties he got leave to visit home before shipping out to Korea with his squadron of Corsairs. He took a date for a stroll down by the Big Sandy River and got bit by a river rat. He became jaundiced and nearly died of his fever but the hospital stay did cause him to miss the boat and therefore the whole Korean war. Instead he became a test pilot and was a team member in bringing the early jets into the fleet and developing the procedures for carrier landings.

My sister and I were both born at Pax River in ’53 and ’54. We also went back and forth from the east coast to the west twice to places like Sunnyvale CA, Norfolk VA and Palo Alto CA. After a stint at the pentagon working on CNO Arleigh Burke’s staff we moved to Jax so he could get his squadron. He was originally slated to get a squadron of A4’s but they decided at 6’-3” and 240 pounds he couldn’t fit in the cockpit. Same reason he washed out of the astronaut program a few years earlier. He had the qualifications but couldn’t fit in the capsule. So, he got a squadron of F8’s which suited him fine since he knew it well as part of the team that brought it into the fleet. Of course a couple of years later the result was not good but that’s part of the risk of being a carrier pilot. We stayed on in Jax close to the bases and the Navy friends and I still live here today.

From Blue Moon over Cuba: Aerial Reconnaissance during the Cuban Missile Crisis:

We "photo weenies" rode the fighter pilots for not being allowed to feet dry over Cuba. They had to circle over the Straits of Florida waiting for us to come feet wet. We called them the "non-combatants." at one happy hour we presented the CO of VF-32, Cdr Ed Clayton, with a set of white coveralls that came complete with a big red cross and and the words "Non-Combatant" across the back. He good-naturedly wore them during the whole party.

Related Articles

George Gardner, Jr. '46 was also a member of 3rd Company.


Class of 1946

Edgar is one of 35 members of the Class of 1946 in Memorial Hall.