Friday, January 11, 2013

TFH 1/11-12 (and 2/1-2): Lieutenant Clark W. Faulkner, USNR

Over the past several months as I've recounted stories of heroism from World War II on their 70th anniversaries, you've had occasion to read the exploits of brave United States Navy and United States Naval Reserve officers who commanded PT boats: Medal of Honor recipient LCDR John D. Bulkeley, Navy Cross and Distinguished Service Cross recipient LT Robert B. Kelly, and Navy Cross recipient LT Lester H. Gamble.

Today, we add a fourth name to that roster of gallant PT commanders: Lieutenant Clark Woods Faulkner, USNR.

Lieutenant Faulkner was born in Lincoln, Nebraska on August, 24, 1919. His home of record was listed as Kansas City, Missouri. During the night of January 11-12, 1943, and then less than a month later on February 1-2, Faulkner commanded PT-40 (a 77-foot Elco boat) and then PT-124 (an 80-foot Elco) against numerically superior Japanese forces during the Guadalcanal Campaign, and earned the Navy Cross.

From Military Times' Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Lieutenant Clark Woods Faulkner, United States Naval Reserve, for extraordinary heroism and distinguished service in the line of his profession while Commanding Motor Torpedo Boat FORTY (PT-40), which together with PT-43 and PT-112 engaged a force of enemy destroyers off the Guadalcanal coast on the night of 11 - 12 January 1943. The group attacked three destroyers only a few hundred yards off the enemy occupied coast during which time Lieutenant Faulkner made a daring and determined approach in to 500 yards before firing his torpedoes which scored two hits probably sinking the ship. Lieutenant Faulkner made good his escape without casualties through a hail of shellfire which sank the other two motor torpedo boats. On the night of 1 - 2 February 1943, Lieutenant Faulkner in Command of Motor Torpedo Boat ONE HUNDRED TWENTY-FOUR (PT-124), engaged one of a group of nineteen enemy destroyers in the same Guadalcanal area and with great skill scored two torpedo hits from a distance of 1,000 yards causing the destroyer to burst into flame and burn for over three hours. The exceptional bravery, aggressive leadership, and outstanding devotion to duty displayed by Lieutenant Faulkner were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

Later in the war, Faulkner attained the rank of Lieutenant Commander and took command of Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron 37 on June 5, 1944. That unit fought, among other places, around Okinawa.

He returned to Kansas City after the war and married Betty Faye Smith in 1948. They were married for fifty-four years before Clark's death in the first half of 2002. I could not determine where he rests. Betty passed away six years later in 2009.

The WW II PT Boats, Bases, Tenders site is an invaluable resource for learning about the brave men who manned America's smallest warships during World War II. I encourage you to check the site out, and spend some time there.

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