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Clark Mark Wayne

Mark Wayne  Clark
Serial Number:
5th Army
Date of Death:
New York
The Citadel, Charleston, Charleston County, South Carolina
Citadel campus, near Mark Clark Hall

Mark Clark commanded the 5th US Army during the Italian Campaign during World War 2. He was born on May 1, 1896 in Sackets Harbor, New York. He saw service in World War 1, 2 and the Korean Conflict. He had a long Army career best summed up by the April 17, 1984 NY Times OBITUARY: Gen. Mark W. Clark, who led the capture of Rome in 1944, had a sometimes controversial career that spanned both World Wars and the Korean War. He came to prominence with the planning and execution of the North African invasion of November 1942. As commanding general of the Fifth Army and then of the 15th Army Group, the Fifth plus the British Eighth Army, he was a key figure in the Mediterranean theater campaign. In addition to a historic meeting in Rome with his corps commanders, held June 5, 1944, on Capitoline Hill, the campaign involved him in the Anzio beachhead mission of Jan. 22, 1944, the costly charge of the 36th Division at the Rapido River, and the bombing of the Abbey at Monte Cassino three weeks later. In his 1950 book, ''Calculated Risk,'' General Clark acknowledged that the failure at the Rapido was a ''serious blow,'' but he said he believed the assault there had been essential to permit the ''spectacular end run'' at Anzio. The landing, to divert German forces from Cassino, was achieved virtually without casualties. It was followed, however, by weeks of bloody battle. With regard to the bombing of the abbey atop Monte Cassino, a height from which the Germans commanded the juncture of two roads to Rome, General Clark said he authorized it only after Gen. Bernard Freyberg of the New Zealand Corps insisted that it was a military prerequisite to a breakthrough there. ''I was never able to discover on what he based his opinion,'' General Clark wrote of General Freyberg. He Commanded Occupation After the collapse of the German forces, General Clark became commander of United States Occupation Forces and High Commissioner in Austria. Later, as a Deputy United States Secretary of State, he helped negotiate a treaty for Austria. In 1949-50, General Clark was Chief of Army Field Forces, stationed at Fort Monroe, Va. In October 1951, President Truman nominated him to be Ambassador to the Vatican but dropped the idea amid criticism by Protestants. General Clark was sent to Tokyo in April 1952 to succeed Gen. Matthew B. Ridgway as United Nations Commander in Korea and Commander in Chief of the United States Far East Command. He signed the Korean armistice on July 27, 1953, and initiated the difficult prisoner exchange that followed. He relinquished his command in October and retired that month after 36 years in the Army. The next spring General Clark became president of The Citadel, the military college at Charleston, S.C., a position he held until 1965. He Praised Nixon Bombing Order In the early 1970's, General Clark was hawkish on the war in Indochina even as popular pressures for American withdrawal echoed in the halls of Congress. He praised President Nixon for ordering the bombing of North Vietnam and advocated a stronger military to deter adversaries. The feat that first brought General Clark to public attention was a dramatic voyage by submarine to North Africa in October 1942. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, his superior in the European Theater of Operations and longtime friend, had asked him to go into French Morocco, then hostile, to meet with French officers loyal to the Allied cause. Risking capture, General Clark and a handpicked team of officers were able return to London with vital information to prepare the North African invasion and campaign that followed. The details of this secret and often precarious mission were related only after the North African landings. For his role, General Clark was decorated by General Eisenhower with the Distinguished Service Medal. And his coinciding promotion to lieutenant general made him, at the age of 46, the youngest three-star general in the Army. When American and British forces landed in North Africa, General Clark was General Eisenhower's deputy. ''The fact that land resistance was not great anywhere,'' General Eisenhower once said, ''testifies to the success of Clark's mission.'' Part of General Clark's task was to work with Adm. Jean Francois Darlan, who turned on Marshal Henri-Philippe Petain's Government after the landings. This collaboration with former Vichy officials drew censure in some Allied quarters but was upheld as a matter of military expediency. General Clark's most important combat assignment was command of the Fifth Army, which he organized and trained in North Africa in 1943 for the invasion of Italy. It was the first American unit to reach the European continent in World War II. Meanwhile, the Seventh Army, led by Gen. George S. Patton Jr., invaded Sicily in July 1943, and with the British Eighth Army, led by Gen. Sir Bernard Montgomery, conquered Sicily in just 38 days. The Fifth Army landed at Salerno, south of Naples, on Sept. 9, 1943, while General Montgomery's troops crossed the Strait of Messina from Sicily at the toe of the Italian boot to begin the bitter, difficult conquest of Italy. It took the Allied forces 20 months to advance the 600 mountainous miles to the Swiss border, where the Germans surrendered in May 1945. Tactics Drew Criticism The tactics of the Italian campaigns drew some serious criticism, and General Clark bore his share of it. Entrenched in the mountains, the Germans under Field Marshal Albert Kesselring, barred the way north with at least 20 divisions. General Clark noted afterward that Allied ground forces outnumbered the defenders only for the final push into the Po Valley, and then only barely. With General Clark's Fifth Army on the west and the British Eighth Army on the east, the Allies pushed up the Italian peninsula. For a long while they were stopped by the German line based on Cassino. The 36th (Texas) Division was sent to cross the Rapido just south of Cassino in January 1944, an attack that failed utterly and cost 2,100 men in 24 hours. In 1946, when his nomination for permanent rank of major general went to the Senate, veterans of the 36th Division complained to Congress that General Clark was an ''inefficient and inexperienced officer'' who had destroyed ''the young manhood of this country wastefully and uselessly'' in the Rapido action. The promotion, however, was confirmed after the War Department defended General Clark's decision as ''sound.'' The Germans also were ready for the next amphibious attempt in the Italian campaign, the strike at Anzio, south of Rome, where, after the uneventful landing, they soon pinned the American invaders to a narrow beachhead for many days. The beachhead was eventually relieved by pressure from the south, and Rome was occupied without resistance June 4, 1944. He Protested Loss of Troops The Allies quickly drove the Germans north of Florence, but later the advance was stalled once again in by a Kesselring stand in the Apennines outside Bologna, the gateway to the Po Valley. Before that, part of the Allied force was diverted by General Eisenhower for a flank attack on southern France in August, which weakened the Italian front. General Clark protested this decision, but in vain. At the end of 1944, he succeeded Field Marshal Viscount Harold Alexander as commander of the 15th Army Group in Italy, consisting of American and British troops, joined by Indians, South Africans, Australians, New Zealanders, anti-Fascist Italians, as well as Polish, Jewish and Brazilian brigades. With these forces, General Clark opened the final big push into the Po Valley in April 1945 and brought about a German surrender in the Alps on May 2, a week before the final collapse of the Third Reich. In the long campaign, General Clark was sometimes careless of his own safety. Men in the line often saw their tall, lanky commander, tieless in warm weather, his uniform unadorned save for the three stars of his rank and a holstered revolver dangling at his side. At Salerno, he personally led a unit that knocked out a charge of 18 German tanks. At Anzio, shellfire hit his landing craft and two men standing next to him were wounded. President Roosevelt personally pinned the Distinguished Service Cross for Heroism on General Clark. 'Where Are Our Troops?' In a typical episode of the campaign from Salerno to Naples, the plain- spoken general lay beside a forward artillery observer watching Allied shelling of stubborn but thinly entrenched German troops. ''Damn rear guard holding up a whole division,'' he complained. ''Where are our troops?'' Swinging his binoculars toward a different view, he answered himself. ''Oh, yeah. I see three of them. Crossing an open field. Why the hell don't they take cover?'' Moments later he crawled to a field telephone in a slit trench and was talking to a regimental commander. ''Of course, your battalion commander knows more about the situation than I do,'' he said. ''But maybe we ought to get in there fast and exploit this barage.'' Returning to an outpost, he said, ''We're going to attack in half an hour.'' Then, hopping into a jeep and extending one long leg along a fender, he rode off to inspect another forward action. Third-Generation Soldier Mark Wayne Clark was a third-generation soldier. He was born May 1, 1896, in Madison Barracks, N.Y. His parents were Col. Charles C. and Rebecca Clark. He was reared in Army camps and went to West Point, where he was commissioned in 1917. He sailed for France in 1918 and was wounded in combat that June. Following further assignments in France and Belgium, he returned to the United States in mid-1919. His career then took him to the usual series of Army posts around the country until he graduated from the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., in 1935, and from the Army War College in Washington two years later. His next assignment was to the staff of the Third Division at Fort Lewis, Wash. He briefly served as Chief of Staff of the Army Ground Forces before taking command of ground forces in the European Theater of Operations in June 1942. By then, he had risen to the two-star rank of major general. Some postwar critics, including the author Dan Kurzman in ''The Race for Rome'' in 1975, accused General Clark of having been obsessed with beating fellow Allied commanders to the Italian capital in the spring of 1944. The glory of reaching the Eternal City first, they asserted, took precedence over cutting off and trapping the Germans before they could retreat north to fight another day. But such arguments went unspoken when, in 1975, at the age of 79, General Clark, accompanied by his wife, led an American Fifth Army contingent at ceremonies at the American military cemetery in Nettuno, Italy, where 7,000 G.I.'s lay buried on the seaside near Rome. On that tour of battlefields, General Clark also visited Rome, where President Giovanni Leone presented him with Italy's highest award, the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic.