From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

William Clay, Jr. '41

Date of birth: January 2, 1919

Date of death: November 21, 1944

Age: 25

Lucky Bag

From the 1941 Lucky Bag:


From Find A Grave:

Maj. Clay's plane, an FU4-1 Corsair, was hit by anti-aircraft fire and exploded during a bombing mission near Yap island. Yapese recovered his body from the ocean, buried him, and cared for the grave until the Americans came looking. At the end of the war, his remains were returned to the USA and reburied at Arlington.

The after-action report is available here.

His wife was listed as next of kin.

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.

April 1941

2nd Lieutenant, Marine Corps Schools, Marine Barracks, Quantico, Virginia

Others at this command:

Class of 1941

William is one of 60 members of the Class of 1941 on Virtual Memorial Hall.

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