JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON –
JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas – U.S. Army North paid special tribute to the service of U.S. Army Pfc. Reid F. Clanton during a ceremony awarding him long-overdue medals at the historic Quadrangle of Fort Sam Houston, Texas, May 16, 2022.
The Bronze Star and other military service awards were presented to a surprised Clanton in recognition of his contributions in combat operations during World War II. U.S. Army Maj. Gen. William Prendergast, Army North Deputy Commanding General, Army National Guard, presided over the ceremony.
“Overall, Pfc. Reid Clanton spent more than 250 days in combat across France, Belgium, Germany, and more than 90 days of direct combat in France. The Army North motto is ‘Strength of the Nation’ and sir, you are a shining example of what makes this country so strong,” said Prendergast.
Clanton, a husband, father, friend and Soldier of the greatest generation, was honored alongside his family members.
Clanton, born August 28, 1924, was raised in Justiceburg, Texas. He enlisted in the U.S. Army at 18 years old, May 19, 1943. He conducted training in Texas and Louisiana before his deployment in May 1944, which later resulted in heroic actions that qualified him for the Bronze Star Medal.
The Bronze Star, the fourth highest military combat award for bravery, may be awarded to those, while serving in any capacity with the Armed Forces of the United States in a combat theatre, who distinguish themselves by heroism, outstanding achievement, or by meritorious service not involving aerial flight. Clanton met all the requirements, but due to an administrative error, did not receive this and other awards earned during WWII until today.
"Mr. Clanton returned via train to Fort Sam Houston where he was discharged without his awards and service records, something that was all too common for thousands of Soldiers at the time. He then hitchhiked back home to Corpus Christi following his return," said Jeff Wells, the founder of the San Antonio-based Veterans outreach group, Wish for Our Heroes.
Clanton served as a forward observer, which was considered one of the most dangerous positions on the battlefield during WWII.
He was primarily assigned and attached to multiple units, including the 29th Infantry Division, 30th Infantry Division, 84th Infantry Division, and Third Army.
Clanton’s first combat assignment was with the 29th Inf. Div. landing him on Omaha Beach on D-Day in Normandy, France, June 6, 1944. From there, Clanton would continue to fight in France and across Belgium and Germany. Still assigned to the 29th Inf. Div., Clanton assisted in the liberation of France fighting in the hedgerows through Saint-Lo and Brest.
His next major combat took place with the 30th Inf. Div. along the Siegfried Line in Aachen, Germany. With the 84th Inf. Div. in Germany, Clanton penetrated the Siegfried Line in Lindern and held the town of Marche against the German attack through the Ardennes of Belgium, France, and Luxembourg.
While assigned to Third Army, Clanton fought alongside multiple artillery regiments as they repelled the German attack and pushed east to crack the Siegfried Line in Germany, the second time he cracked the nearly 400-mile-long defensive system
Clanton’s heroism and meritorious service again manifested in the Ardennes where he attempted to stop a German advance. With his fellow Soldiers, he crept forward in front of a group of buildings to spot German positions. He crawled through a ditch trying to work his way up to the front lines to identify the origin of the heavy 88 mm artillery fire that was raining down on his and his team’s position. After crawling as far as he could, Clanton had to leave the ditch to locate the enemy position, exposing himself to fire. Despite bullets whizzing past his head, he was able to locate the source of the incoming artillery, call for fire, and destroy the German position.
“War is hell. We should try to prevent World War III. It's not the thing to do. We need to get along with each other, understand each other and help each other. We don't need any more war stuff,” said Clanton.
Other military service awards presented to Clanton during the ceremony included Good Conduct Medal, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with three bronze service stars, World War II Victory Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge, and the Honorable Service Lapel Button for WWII.
Following the playing of the 29th Infantry Division song, the 84th Infantry Division song and the Army song, played by the 323rd Army Band, Fort Sam’s Own, Clanton was congratulated by guests before riding around the Quadrangle in a World War II-era vehicle.
- 30 -