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First Name: Clarence

Last Name: McClusky

Birthplace: Buffalo, NY, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Navy (present)


Middle Name: Wade

Date of Birth: 01 June 1902

Date of Death: 27 June 1976

Rank or Rate: Rear Admiral

Years Served:
Clarence Wade McClusky, Jr.

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)
•  Korean War (1950 - 1953)


Clarence Wade McClusky, Jr.
Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy

Clarence Wade McClusky, Jr. was born on 1 June 1902 in Buffalo, NY.

McClusky graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1926 and became a Naval Aviator three years later. Over the next decade, he served in several air units, as well as on command staffs, as an Instructor at the Naval Academy and at shore facilities. In 1940, he was assigned to Fighting Squadron Six (VF-6), based on USS Enterprise, and assumed command of that Squadron in April 1941.

Battle of Midway

Lieutenant Commander McClusky became Enterprise Air Group Commander in April 1942. During the Battle of Midway, while leading his Air Group's scout bombers on 4 June 1942, he made the critical tactical decision that led to the sinking of two of Japan's fleet carriers, Kaga, and Akagi. When McClusky could not find the Japanese carriers where he expected them, and with his Air Group's fuel running dangerously low, he spotted the Japanese destroyer Arashi steaming north at flank speed.

(The Arashi had stayed behind to attack the USS Nautilus, which had been harassing the Japanese fleet.) Taking the Arashi's heading led him directly to the enemy carriers. He then directed his dive-bombers into an attack that led to the destruction of both Kaga and Akagi. A squadron from the USS Yorktown, led by Max Leslie, had taken off an hour later, but it used a more recent, and hence more accurate, sighting for the location of the Japanese carriers. It arrived at the same moment as the Enterprise's bombers and attacked the Soryu, and within minutes, three of the four Japanese carriers had been turned into burning hulks. McClusky, through his intelligence, courage and sheer luck, had thus made a vital contribution to the outcome of this pivotal battle. For his actions, McClusky was awarded the Navy Cross. Later in World War II, he commanded the escort carrier USS Corregidor.

Post-War Service

Captain McClusky served in a variety of staff and shore positions in the late 1940s. During the Korean War, he was Chief of Staff to the Commanders of the First and Seventh Fleets. He commanded NAS Glenview, IL, in 1952-53, and the Boston Group of the Atlantic Reserve Fleet in 1954-56. McClusky retired from active duty in July 1956. At that time, in recognition of his vital contributions in combat to the outcome of World War II, he was advanced to Rear Admiral.


USS McClusky (FFG-41) was named in his honor.

The Wade McClusky Award is given annually to the most outstanding attack squadron in the U.S. Navy.

Portrayal in Media

In the 1976 film Midway, he was portrayed by actor Christopher George.

Death and Burial

Rear Admiral Clarence Wade McClusky, Jr. died on 27 June 1976. He is buried at the U.S. Naval Academy Cemetery in Annapolis, MD.

Honoree ID: 2826   Created by: MHOH




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