When six Japanese kamikazes attacked the ship that U.S. Navy veteran Sailor Carl Clark was working on in May 1945, their explosions sent him flying across the ship. Rather than ensuring his own safety, Clark pulled several other sailors to safety and extinguished a fire in an ammunition locker that would’ve taken numerous lives and crack the ship in half.
Even with the ship’s captain acknowledging that he had saved the ship, Clark had nothing but a broken collar bone to show for his heroism. “It wouldn’t look good to say one black man saved the ship,” Clark said. It wasn’t until 67 years later that Clark finally received the rightful recognition he deserved in 2012 and was presented with the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal for Bravery.
Although it bothered Clark that so many of his black counterparts endured the same treatment and their stories have gone untold, he never considering himself a hero but rather just a man who did what he had to do.
After his service Clark returned to the Bay Area, began working as a mail carrier and helped to start the Boys and Girls Club in his community.
A few months shy of celebrating his 101st friends, family and admirers gathered at St. Francis of Assisi Church in East Palo Alto to say goodbye the man who “played an undeniably significant role” in saving the lives of so many others and he will forever be remember by his humility and bravery.