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Susan Parker Clark was born in Cooperstown, New York on August 5, 1918. She was the daughter of George Hyde Clarke and Emily Borie Ryerson Clarke Cook. She was one of seven children. She graduated from Cooperstown High School and then attended Secretarial School in New York City.
In 1940, with her brother and sister, she learned to fly. Then, she applied for service in the WASP when it was organized. She was accepted, and in the Army Air Forces Training Command, she received primary, intermittent, and advanced flight lessons although she held a pilot's license. Upon completion of the training, she was sent to Avenger Field, Texas in September 1943 and graduated on March 11, 1944 as a part of Class 44-W2.
One account of her service states she was sent to New Castle AAB in Wilmington, Delaware on March 11, 1944. No explanation of her duties there is given.
She was then sent to the 33rd Ferrying Group at Kansas City, Missouri where she took up her duties. She was making a cross-country flight on July 4, 1944, when she landed in Atlanta, Georgia. There, Lt Harry C. Thomas requested a ride to his camp at Camp Davis, North Carolina. Susan agreed, but had to stop at Columbia AAF in Columbia, South Carolina.
The duo took off from Columbia and the flight was normal. Suddenly, the aircraft peeled to the left, assumed a nose-down attitude, and crashed into the ground. Both Clarke and Thomas were killed.
The accident investigation board came up with a number of theories as to the cause of the crash, but could not decide on a definitive one. Options ranged from an air strike not involving another aircraft to a torn control cable. As stated, no definitive opinion was offered, and the cause of the crash is still "Undetermined."
Susan Parker Clarke was taken to Cooperstown, New York, and buried there in the Lakewood Cemetery.
WASP Susan Parker Clarke was flying BT-13B Valiant # 42-89841 when she was killed in service.
Members of the WASP were given the privileges of a commissioned officer, and adhered to the same uniform requirements while on base. They had no military rank, although usually treated in the same manner as a 2nd Lieutenant. They received $150 per month in training, and $250 per month after being assigned their duty. They had to pay for their own food, uniforms, and lodging. If they died while on active duty, they were required to pay for all transportation and funeral costs involved.
They were actually members of Civil Service. They were not recognized as veterans or given any veterans benefits until 1977. In 1977, Public Law 95-202 gave them veteran staus, open to all benefits. They were awarded the World War 2 Victory Medal, and if they had served for more than 1 year, they received the American Campaign Medal. In 2010, they were individually, and as a unit, recognized by the presentation of the Congressional Gold Medal.