Roger Clements

Roger Clements
We had a unique visitor Saturday Aug. 16. Roger Clements came all the way from Advance, NC to visit the museum. His first act was to hand me a Zippo lighter with VMF-235 emblazoned on it!! I turned it over to see a FJ Fury and the squadron logo on it!!! Yes, he was in the squadron prior to OUR FJ-3M’s days!!! He ran the engine shop for two years on FJ-2s with the J-47-2 engine!!! It was a lightweight version to compensate for the Fury’s heavier weight over the F-86. He entered the USMC in 1946 and got his start as a Plane Captain with VMF-322 at Midway in 1947. He was basically a GRUNT when he and a couple of other guys were picked at random to become aircraft gurus. In 30 minutes time he literally went from S-1 to the cockpit of a F4U-4 and got a quick indoctrination including full run-up of the R-2800 and was told to report the next day!!!! He asked a few other Plane Captains a few questions the next day and prepared his new steed for flight. A Marine pilot arrived and off he went!!! Talk about on the job training!!! In Dec 1949 he went to VMF-115 who had brand new F9F-2 Panther jets. They were the first Marine jet squadron and the first to qualify jets on a carrier…the FDR. His tour with 115 include Korea. After that, he went to El Toro with VMF(N)-542 who had F7F Tigercats and F3D Skyknights!!! After this his tour included VMF-235 as well as a stint with quality control for MAG-33 in HNMS-3. After leaving the Corps in 1966 he found himself on Century Blvd in LA looking for a job. He went to the 7th floor to General Electric with his resume and was kindly turned down. After this he went to the 5th floor at Pratt and Whitney where he did the same. After a 45 minute wait he was ready to leave when he was suddenly hired on. Highlights include flight testing of the Army U-21 at Edwards AFB. Also went to Vietnam in Jan 1968 as tech rep on U-21. There were 5 0 U-21s deployed there. He actually was in on a wheels up landing at Cam Ranh Bay Army (a PSP strip at the base) with 12 aboard including a Colonel. The two Capt’s up front were so intent on a great landing for the Col. that they forgot to lower the gear!!!! He also was involved in a R4D/F-8 middair that resulted in no losses. It is just fantastic when we get such special guests!!! Roger donated the Zippo as well as a couple of pics from the FJ-2 days in VMF-235. Also of interest was the fact that VMF-322 was based at Edenton, NC at one time!!! Roger…thanks for everything and please come back to see us. Also of interest, his son is at Pratt and Whitney as well as his grandson who is an apprentice there……Semper Fi

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