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Thomas Edgar Clifford

West Virginia
Veterans Memorial

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Thomas Edgar “Jock” Clifford
1911-1945

“Dash, audacity and brilliance characterized everything he did.”

Major General R. R. Woodruff

Thomas Edgar Clifford was born May 19, 1911 in Ronceverte, Greenbrier County the son of Edgar, Sr. and Mary Adams Clifford. The family also included a daughter, Margaret. Thomas Clifford received the nickname "Jock" while a student at Ronceverte Elementary School, when his teacher, Mr. Holyman, likened his antics to those of "Jocko the Monkey Boy."

Yearbook, Greenbrier Military Academy, 1932
Yearbook, Greenbrier Military Academy, 1932
Jock attended Greenbrier Military School and was an outstanding athlete. He was appointed to the United States Military Academy at West Point where he continued his athletic success, becoming an All-American center in football, and lettering in both basketball and baseball.

After graduating from West Point, he married his high school sweetheart, Brownie Peters. They became the parent of a daughter, Krispen.
Thomas Clifford and daughter Krispen
Thomas Clifford and daughter Krispen

Citation for Distinguished Service Cross
Citation for Distinguished Service Cross
His sister recalled “He was always crazy about soldiers.” Clifford was stationed overseas in 1939, and was at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attack thrust the United States into World War II. He became a battalion commander in New Guinea, and directed a successful campaign that resulted in his being awarded the Silver Star. He then served with distinction in the Leyte campaign in the Philippines, where he won the Distinguished Service Cross. His resolve in retaining Kilray Ridge during the Battle of the Ormac Corridor resulted in his promotion to colonel. One of his second lieutenants described him as the "best damn regimental commander in the U. S. Army." Boyd B. Stutler, a noted West Virginia historian who served during World War II as a combat historian, described Clifford as "a stark fighter who pushes his men to the utmost of their endurance, but he does not spare himself. In running his fights he has the dash and audacity of an armored knight, the tough endurance of seasoned hickory, and with just enough of whimsy in his make-up to relieve the military stiffness and make him a very human sort of a person."

Jock Clifford came home for a visit with his wife and daughter, but loyalty to his men led him to return to the Philippines. He and his men liberated the town of Davao, and the people of the town considered him their hero. He was killed a few days later on June 25, 1945, and the town paid tribute to Clifford by naming the town square and a theater in his honor.

Jock Clifford earned two Distinguished Service Crosses, a Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Silver Star and a Purple Heart.

Jock Clifford’s reburial took place on March 2, 1949 at Riverview Cemetery in Ronceverte. He was again honored in 1960 when the National Guard Armory was renamed for him. Inside a trophy case was placed a bronze bust of their local hero. The building was renamed again and is now the Clifford Community and Recreation Center.
Plaque, Clifford Armory
Plaque, Clifford Armory

Sources:
"Colonel 'Jock' Clifford: Regimental Commander," by Boyd B. Stutler, West Virginia Review, June 1945
"Remembering a forgotten hero: Quest revives WWII exploits of W. Va. colonel," by Sandy Wells, Sunday Gazette Mail, March 27, 1994
"Saga of Greenbrier County's Own Military Hero, Colonel Jock Clifford," by John Arbogast, Mountain Messenger, July 31, 1994
"Thomas Edgar 'Jock' Clifford: Hero," by Carol Hall, Mountain Messenger, November 6, 1994

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West Virginia Archives and History welcomes any additional information that can be provided about these veterans, including photographs, family names, letters and other relevant personal history.


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