Bruce Cooper Clarke was born on April 29, 1901, in Adams, New York. At the age of 16, Clarke left school to enlist in the United States Army during World War I. He then worked in a steel plant and two different stores before returning to school to finish his high school education before attending the United States Military Academy, where he played football and tutored his struggling classmates. After being commissioned in 1925, he began his career as an officer with the Corps of Engineers and continued to serve with several engineer units before the U.S.'s entrance into the Second World War. At this point in his career, Clarke took command of the 4th Armored Division and then the 7th Armored Division, with whom he won respect during the Battle of the Bulge. After the Second World War, Clarke continued to service in Europe and then in the Pacific, particularly in Korea, before retiring in 1962. Clarke's high standards and engaged command style not only won him respect but frequently pushed his soldiers to perform at their best, especially in difficult circumstances.