Clyde W. Benson
U. S. Army Air Corps
WWII US Military
Dates of Service: 05/26/1943 - 10/23/1945
Navigator, 72 Sq 5th Bomb Grp., 13th Air Force
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Clyde was born in Monroe, Louisiana, to Clyde and Lila Webb Benson. His father was an engineer for Missouri Pacific Railroad. The young Clyde, who loved the outdoors, had been hunting birds when he heard the news about Pearl Harbor. "Everybody wanted to join," he says. "It was a disgrace in Monroe to get drafted." After graduating from Ouachita Parish High School he joined the U.S. Army Air Forces in early 1943, and was sent to basic training at Sheppard Field in Wichita Falls, Texas. He then reported to Kelly Field Aviation Cadet Center in San Antonio, and next to navigation school at Ellington Field in Houston where he was commissioned. Clyde began flying as a navigator in B-24s in Walla Walla, Washington. He left for the Pacific on July 1, 1944, and was stationed at Nadzab, New Guinea, as part of 72nd Squadron, 5th Bombardment Group, 13th Air Force. Clyde flew three missions over Balikpapan to destroy a Japanese oil and gas refinery. Each mission, he reports, was about 17 hours and 40 minutes. He also bombed Japanese ships in Brunei Bay on Borneo and hit targets in Saigon in Japanese-held French Indochina. Ordered to Samar Island near Leyte, his crew bombed Manila in the campaign to re-capture the Philippines. Clyde finished duty in the Pacific before the war ended, and sailed to America on a 36-day voyage aboard a Navy transport, the General Anderson. Clyde was discharged at Camp Shelby near Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Earning a degree in engineering business administration from The University of Texas at Austin, he began work for United Gas in the storage and purchasing department. Clyde married Jane Marie Renaud on April 14, 1950. They would have four daughters, six grandchildren, and a great-grandchild. He was called up for service in Korea, where he served in the 417th Bombardment Wing of the 5th Air Force. As a navigator on a B-26 he flew fifty-five missions. Clyde was awarded seven air medals for service in World War II and Korea, including the Distinguished Flying Cross.