Lt Col Colin Arnold "Arnie" Clarke was born on August 31, 1935, in Seattle, Washington.
Lt Col Clarke accumulated several hundred flying hours in United States Air Force aircraft, most notably the F-100 Super Sabre and the A-7D Corsair II. He joined the 354th Fighter Wing at Myrtle Beach Air Force Base in May 1971 and deployed with the Wing to Southeast Asia operating from Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base in support of the war in Vietnam. While there he flew as an A-7D Sandy pilot whose mission was to support the rescue and recovery of downed pilots. On one such mission over North Vietnam on 18 November 1972, he directed the successful rescue and recovery of two downed pilots.
The President of the United States awarded the Air Force Cross to Maj Colin A. Clarke for extraordinary heroism in military operations against an opposing armed force as On-Scene Commander for search and rescue operations over North Vietnam on 18 November 1972. On that date, Maj Clarke directed an extremely complex mission that resulted in the successful recovery of two downed airmen despite adverse weather, mountainous terrain, and intense hostile ground fire. Disregarding these hazards, his own safety, and battle damage to his aircraft, he personally guided the rescue helicopter to the survivor's location, suppressed hostile defenses, and
continued to direct rescue efforts even though he sustained additional damage to his aircraft. Through his extraordinary heroism, superb airmanship, and aggressiveness in the face of the enemy, Maj Clarke reflected the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.
Photo of Lt Col Clarke, courtesy of Veteran Tributes