484 Clemson alumni gave their lives in service of the United States military. Clemson was second only to Texas A&M in the number of commissioned officers provided (6,475) during World War II. Three alumni received the Medal of Honor, including one who was killed. All 484 of the fallen alumni are listed in the Scroll of Honor. Memorial Park honoring them is behind Memorial Stadium.
Here’s the breakdown by war or conflict:
- WW I – 27; Nicaraguan Campaign – 1
- WW II – 376; Korean War -19
- Cuban Missile Crisis – 1
- Vietnam War – 31
- The Cold War – 26
- Global War on Terrorism – 3
Taking a closer look at some of the facts related to the Scroll of Honor:
- The whole Class of 1917 volunteered en masses for WWI.
- 12 of the 27 WWI deaths were of Spanish influenza or pneumonia.
- Five alumni (out of eight forced to participate) died as a result of the Bataan Death March during WWII.
- Aubrey Rion, starting quarterback from the 1939 football team that went to the Cotton Bowl (Clemson’s first bowl game), was killed defending Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge in 1944.
- Major Malcomb Edens, Class of 1947, was a pilot and a POW in the Korean Conflict.
- Colonel Wesley Platt had been a prisoner of the Japanese in WWII and died in the Korean Conflict.
- Colonel Albert Smarr served in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. He was a POW after the B-17 he was gunner on was shot down by the Germans. He was freed by the Soviets during the liberation of Berlin. He graduated Clemson after the war in 1950 and was assigned to a Tank Battalion in Korea. He was killed in a helicopter crash in Vietnam in 1972.
I decided to take a closer look at Rudolf Anderson, who was shot down over Cuba in 1962, and Jimmie Dyess, who posthumously received the Medal of Honor.
Major Rudolf Anderson, Jr. was the only death of the Cuban Missile Crisis caused by enemy fire. He was born in Greenville, South Carolina, in 1927. He graduated from Greenville High School and was an Eagle Scout. Anderson graduated Clemson in 1948 and was commissioned an officer in the U.S. Air Force.
He flew RF-86 Sabres in Korea and received two awards of the Distinguished Flying Cross during that conflict. He then transitioned to the U-2 in 1957 and had over 1000 hours in that aircraft. On October 27, 1962, Anderson took off from McCoy AFB near Orlando to fly a mission over Cuba. He was shot down by a surface-to-air-missile (SA-2) near Banes, Cuba. President John F. Kennedy ordered that Anderson be given the first award ever of the Air Force Cross. He also received the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal, a Purple Heart, and the Cheney Award.
Anderson is buried in Woodlawn Memorial Park in Greenville (Shoeless Joe Jackson is also buried there.) A memorial to Anderson (consisting of a F-86) is located in Greenville’s Cleveland Park.
Aquilla James Dyess was born in Andersonville, Georgia in 1909. He was an Eagle Scout. He graduated Clemson College in 1932, so he was a rat the same year my grandfather graduated. Dyess was commissioned an infantry officer in the U.S. Army Reserve after his graduation. In 1936, he became an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve.
On February 2, 1944, Lt. Colonel Dyess was killed during the Battle of Kwajalein on the island of Namur in the Kwajalein Atoll. He led from the front as his men were under heavy automatic fire. Dyess was initially buried in the 4th Marine Division Cemetery on Roi-Namur, Kwajalein Atoll. He was reinterred in Augusta, Georgia in 1948.
Dyess was awarded the Medal of Honorfor his actions at Kwajalein. He is the only American to receive the Carnegie Medal for heroism and a Medal of Honor. He received the Carnegie Medal in 1929 for saving two swimmers off the SC coast.
In 1945, the USS Dyess (DD-880) was named for him. It was a Gearing-class destroyer, the same as the USS Damato. The Naval & Marine Corps Reserve Center in Augusta was named for him in 1998.
From his Medal of Honor citation:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as Commanding Officer of the First Battalion, Twenty-Fourth Marines, Reinforced, Fourth Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces during the assault on Namur Island, Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands, February 1 and 2, 1944. Undaunted by severe fire from automatic Japanese weapons, Lieutenant Colonel Dyess launched a powerful final attack on the second day of the assault, unhesitatingly posting himself between the opposing lines to point out objectives and avenues of approach and personally leading the advancing troops. Alert, and determined to quicken the pace of the offensive against increased enemy fire, he was constantly at the head of advance units, inspiring his men to push forward until the Japanese had been driven back to a small center of resistance and victory assured. While standing on the parapet of an antitank trench directing a group of infantry in a flanking attack against the last enemy position, Lieutenant Colonel Dyess was killed by a burst of enemy machine-gun fire. His daring and forceful leadership and his valiant fighting spirit in the face of terrific opposition were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.
David Hood also wrote a piece on the sacrifice of Clemson alumni.
Quinton is a native South Carolinian who has lived in Baltimore since 2006. He is a recent convert to the Catholic Church and is active in the Knights of Columbus. He has been involved in the pro-life movement nationally and locally since 2010.
Quinton is a veteran who served as an intelligence analyst in the Army National Guard. He is also an Eagle Scout.
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