JAMES S. CLARK, CDR, USN

From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall
James Clark '35

Date of birth: October 2, 1912

Date of death: June 14, 1944

Age: 31

Lucky Bag

From the 1935 Lucky Bag:

1935 Clark LB.jpg

JAMES SEERLEY CLARK

Cedar Rapids, Iowa

"Jim" "Jimmy"

AFTER early successes in the Boy Scout movement, this precocious youth mustered up all the nautical sentiment in Cedar Rapids, and proceeded to prolong his activities along these lines by entering the Naval School. Yes, indeed, our Jim started out with no less than thirty-one merit badges. Thus did he place his classmate under a severe handicap way back in Plebe Summer. Since then, his accomplishments have proceeded scholastically and athletically. A water polo player of no mean ability, he managed to capture himself the coveted block "N." Concerning his additional activities, it need only be said that the Logs of the past four years have been well seasoned with his work. And ask Isham Jones if James can lead a band!

Water Polo 4, 3, 2, 1, N. Art Club 3, 2, 1. Log Staff 3, 2, 1. 1 P.O.

1935 Clark LB.jpg

JAMES SEERLEY CLARK

Cedar Rapids, Iowa

"Jim" "Jimmy"

AFTER early successes in the Boy Scout movement, this precocious youth mustered up all the nautical sentiment in Cedar Rapids, and proceeded to prolong his activities along these lines by entering the Naval School. Yes, indeed, our Jim started out with no less than thirty-one merit badges. Thus did he place his classmate under a severe handicap way back in Plebe Summer. Since then, his accomplishments have proceeded scholastically and athletically. A water polo player of no mean ability, he managed to capture himself the coveted block "N." Concerning his additional activities, it need only be said that the Logs of the past four years have been well seasoned with his work. And ask Isham Jones if James can lead a band!

Water Polo 4, 3, 2, 1, N. Art Club 3, 2, 1. Log Staff 3, 2, 1. 1 P.O.

Loss

1935 Clark 1.jpg

James was lost when USS Golet (SS 361) was sunk, probably by Japanese surface forces on June 14, 1944. He was the boat's commanding officer; he had taken command only a few weeks before, in May 1944. His previous billet had been XO of USS Swordfish (SS 193). (Swordfish was lost in early January 1945; it's likely he knew some or all of the men who were lost.)

Other Information

From researcher Kathy Franz:

Known as “Archie,” he went to Benjamin Franklin Junior High School and then graduated in 1930 from Washington High School in Cedar Rapids. Alpha Rho; A. D. S.; Hi-Y, Secretary ‘30; Junior Play ’29; Pulse newspaper reporter; Football ’28; Basketball ’29; Quill and Scroll ’30.

He also attended the Werntz preparatory school at Annapolis. At the Naval Academy, James was ranked fifth among the individual scorers in the eastern intercollegiate water polo conference during the season which closed in March 1935. He played at a forward position scored ten touch-goals, and three thrown goals for a total of thirty-six points. The conference leader, Mulcahy of Columbia, scored 48 points. The Navy team was runner-up for title honors in the six-team league.

James was the son of District Judge Atherton B. and Mrs. Clark of Cedar Rapids.

His wife was listed as next of kin.

Career

From Fleet Organization:

  • Duty cfo Swordfish 1 Jul 1939
  • Communications Officer USS Swordfish (SS-193) 22 Jul 1939 - 1 Nov 1940
  • Executive Officer USS Swordfish (SS-193) Sep 1942 - 31 Mar 1943
  • Executive Officer USS Archerfish (SS-311) 4 Sep 1943 - Jan 1944
  • Executive Officer (PCO?) USS Golet (SS-361) 8 Mar 1944 - May 1944
  • Captain USS Golet (SS-361) 28 May 1944 - Jun 1944
  • Lieutenant (j.g.) 6 Jun 1938
  • Lieutenant 1 Jan 1942
  • Lieutenant Commander (T) 1 May 1943
  • Commander (T) 1 Mar 1944

Silver Star

From Together We Served:

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to Lieutenant Commander James Seerley Clark (NSN: 0-75043), United States Navy, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity as Assistant Approach Officer and also as Torpedo and Gunnery Officer of the U.S.S. SWORDFISH (SS-193), in action against enemy Japanese forces in the Pacific Area during World War II. During four hazardous war patrols of his Submarine, Lieutenant Commander Clark rendered invaluable services by his skillful maintenance of torpedoes, insuring consistently straight, accurate runs, and by his splendid initiative in effectively solving the torpedo problem despite severe enemy depth charging and bombing. When the SWORDFISH was assigned two special missions to Corregidor Fortress, Lieutenant Commander Clark greatly assisted in the successful execution of these important tasks. His outstanding ability and inspiring leadership contributed materially to the destruction of eleven hostile vessels and the damaging of another, and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. General Orders: Commander 7th Fleet: Serial 02121 (October 22, 1943)

Service: Navy
Rank: Lieutenant Commander
Job: Assistant Approach Officer
Vessel: U.S.S. Swordfish (SS-193)

Memorial Hall Error

James was promoted to CDR before his death; Memorial Hall has LCDR.

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.

October 1935
Ensign, USS Indianapolis

January 1936
Ensign, USS Indianapolis

April 1936
Ensign, USS Indianapolis

July 1936
Ensign, USS Indianapolis


Others at or embarked at this command:
LTjg Francis Black '26 (Scouting Force)
January 1937
Ensign, USS Indianapolis


Others at or embarked at this command:
LT Francis Black '26 (Scouting Force)
April 1937
Ensign, USS Indianapolis


Others at or embarked at this command:
LT Francis Black '26 (Scouting Force)
ENS Thomas Sharp '35 (Scouting Force)
September 1937
Ensign, USS Indianapolis


Others at or embarked at this command:
ENS Thomas Sharp '35 (Scouting Force)
January 1938
Ensign, staff, Scouting Force, USS Indianapolis

Others at this command:

Others at or embarked at USS Indianapolis:
ENS Richard Bull, Jr. '36 (USS Indianapolis)
ENS August Weinel '36 (USS Indianapolis)
July 1938
Lieutenant (j.g.), staff, Scouting Force, USS Indianapolis

Others at this command:

Others at or embarked at USS Indianapolis:
ENS Charles Reimann '38 (USS Indianapolis)
January 1939
Lieutenant (j.g.), under instruction, Submarine Base New London, Connecticut

October 1939
Lieutenant (j.g.), USS Swordfish
June 1940
Lieutenant (j.g.), USS Swordfish
November 1940
Lieutenant (j.g.), USS Swordfish
April 1941
Lieutenant (j.g.), USS Swordfish

Others at this command:


Class of 1935

James is one of 56 members of the Class of 1935 on Virtual Memorial Hall.

The "category" links below lead to lists of related Honorees; use them to explore further the service and sacrifice of alumni in Memorial Hall.