From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Howard Clark '38

Date of birth: September 15, 1914

Date of death: May 8, 1942

Age: 27

Lucky Bag

From the 1938 Lucky Bag:


Fighting Squadron Three (VF-3), March 5, 1942. Standing, l to r: Mason, Clark, Sellstrom, Eder, Johnson, Lackey, Haynes, Stanley, Peterson, Dufilho, Lemmon. Sitting: Morgan, Vorse, Lovelace, Thach, Gayler, O'Hare, Rowell.

Howard was a member of Fighting Squadron (VF) 3, flying from USS Lexington (CV 2). On May 8, 1942, during the Battle of the Coral Sea:

Nearing the task force, [Lieutenant] Gayler ['37, 3rd section leader of VF-3, later recipient of 3 Navy Crosses] was saddened to hear Clark, his second section leader, radio that he was ditching. Lost in the clouds after the melee with the Zuikaku Zeros, Clark was unable to find his way back home. He was never heard from again. Another of the 1938 graduates of the US Naval Academy, "Spud" Clark earned his wings in early 1941 and joined Fighting Three in April of that year. Well liked and able, Clark was another fighter pilot beaten not by the Japanese, but by the weather.

His wife was listed as next of kin. Howard has a memory marker in Maryland.

From naval aviation historian Richard Leonard via email on February 9, 2018:

NOTE: Clark was assigned to VF-2 when he was killed, not VF-3. He was one of twelve VF-3 pilots transferred to VF-2 on 12 April 1942. One of the twelve was, indeed, Noel A M Gayler, who became XO of VF-2 with the transfer.

  • NAS Pensacola attached for HTA flight training, 7/15/1940
  • NAS Pensacola designated NA # 7079, 1/29/1941
  • Date of rank LTJG from 1 Jul 1941 USN Register, 6/2/1941
  • VF-3 USS Lexington (CV-2) DFC, 2/20/1942
  • VF-3 USS Lexington (CV-2) DFC, 3/10/1942
  • VF-2 USS Lexington (CV-2) attached, received from VF-3, 4/12/42
  • VF-2 USS Lexington (CV-2) PH MIA BNR, 5/7/1942

Distinguished Flying Crosses

Unable to find citations. From

Second from left, back row: LT(JG) Howard F. Clark won a Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), February 20, 1942, when he brought down an enemy bomber attempting to attack USS Lexington. During the Battle of the Coral Sea, May 1942, he again and again engaged enemy aircraft, in utter disregard of his own safety, until his Wildcat was shot down. LT(JG) Clark was posthumously awarded a second DFC for his heroism during the battle, and destroyer escort USS Howard F. Clark (DE-533) was named after him.


USS Howard F. Clark (DE 533) is named for Howard and was sponsored by his widow, Bess.

Related Articles

Donald Lovelace '28, Edward O'Hare '37, and Marion Dufilho '38 were also members of Fighting Squadron (VF) 3 during this time.

Richard Crommelin '38 was briefly assigned to Fighting Squadron (VF) 3, as well, but he arrived after Howard's loss.

Class of 1938

Howard is one of 71 members of the Class of 1938 on Virtual Memorial Hall.