CLAYTON C. JEROME, USMC
Lieutenant General Clayton Charles Jerome, former commander of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing in Korea and veteran Marine flyer who fought in five World War II campaigns, died on 13 February 1978 in Arlington, Virginia.
The general commanded the 1st Wing in Korea from April to December 1952, receiving the Distinguished Service Medal and his fourth Legion of Merit for his leadership in that capacity. The awards were presented to him by the Air Force.
In World War II the general participated in the consolidation of the Northern Solomons, the Treasury-Bougainville operation, the Bismarck Archipelago campaign and the Luzon and Mindanao fighting in the Philippines. He earned his first Legion of Merit with Combat "V" as Operations Officer on the Staff of the Commander, Aircraft, Northern Solomons, from November 1943, to March 1944, during air operations against the Japanese in the Bougainvile-Rabaul-New Ireland area.
His second Legion of Merit was for meritorious service from June to December 1944, as Chief of Staff to the Commander, Air, Northern Solomons, and as Commander, Aircraft, and Island Commander, Emirau. His third, awarded by the Army, was for service on Luzon in January and February 1945, while commanding Mangalden airstrip and Marine Air Groups at Dagupan. During that period, he directed Marine air support on all the Luzon battlefronts. He also received the Bronze Star Medal (Army) and the Air Medal in World War II.
Before the war, General Jerome's assignments included expeditionary duty in China and Nicaragua and service as Naval Attaché and Naval Attaché for Air to the governments of Columbia, Panama, Venezuela, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. While serving in the latter capacity, he earned the Distinguished Flying Cross in April 1937, for his daring rescue of the survivors of a Venezuelan plane crash. Using an amphibious plane, he repeatedly flew over the treacherous jungles of Cuyuni in search of the wreck. After finding it, he made two hazardous landings on the narrow Cuyuni River to rescue four survivors.
The general had also demonstrated his flying ability in January 1930, when the hand control or "stick" of his plane broke off at the socket while he was practicing acrobatics 2,000 feet over the city of San Diego, California. Since a crash would have resulted in death or property damage for people on the ground, he elected to stay with the plane rather than parachute. He righted the craft to normal flying position by maneuvering the socket with his hand; then, lashing the stick back to the socket with his handkerchief, trouser belt and necktie, he made a successful landing.
General Jerome was born 22 September 1901, in Hutchinson, Kansas. Entering the U.S. Naval Academy during World War I, he was commissioned a Marine second lieutenant when he graduated in 1922. After completing the Marine officers Basic School at Quantico, Virginia, and serving a year at the Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C., he entered flight training at Pensacola, Florida, in August 1924.
Following his designation as aviator, the general served at the Naval Air Station, Marine Corps Base, San Diego, from July 1925, to April 1927, when he was appointed a first lieutenant and ordered to China via the Philippine Islands. Completing his service in China, he was stationed briefly on Guam in September 1928, before returning to San Diego. It was during this tour of duty that he landed his plane despite a broken stick, a feat which brought him a letter of commendation from the Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics, Navy Department.
From the West Coast, General Jerome was again ordered to Quantico, where he served with Aircraft Squadrons, East Coast Expeditionary Force. He then completed a tour of temporary duty in Nicaragua before entering the Post Graduate School at the Naval Academy in June 1932. He went on from there to the California Institute of Technology at Pasadena, where he obtained his Master of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering.
Advanced to captain in May 1934, the general reported to the Bureau of Aeronautics, Navy Department, before he was detailed as Naval Attaché and Naval Attaché for Air at the American Legation, Bogota, Colombia. He simultaneously served in that capacity in seven other Latin American nations.
On his return to the United States General Jerome entered the Air Corps Tactical School at Maxwell Field, Montgomery, Alabama, where he was promoted to major. He completed the school in May 1939, and served again at the Naval Air Station, San Diego, until May 1940, when he was ordered to Washington once more for duty in the Bureau of Aeronautics. He later served as Officer in Charge of the Reserve Personnel Section and as Assistant Director of the Division of Aviation at Marine Corps Headquarters, where he received his promotions to lieutenant colonel and colonel. He held the latter rank when he embarked for the Pacific theater.
After participating in five campaigns the general returned to the United States in July 1945, to take command of the Marin Corps Air Station in Quantico. He was named Chief of Staff of the Marine Corps Schools there in June 1948, and in April 1949, was promoted to brigadier general. That July he was ordered once more to Marine Corps Headquarters, where he served simultaneously as Director of Public Information, Director of Recruiting, and Director of Marine Corps History.
In September 1950, General Jerome became Director of Aviation and Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps for Air, serving in those capacities until he took command of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing in Korea in April 1952. That July, he was promoted to major general, and in January 1953, he reported to Cherry Point, North Carolina, to serve both as Commanding General of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing and Commanding General, Aircraft, Fleet Marine Force, Atlantic. When those commands were separated in October 1953, he moved Norfolk, Virginia, to serve in the latter capacity. He remained at Norfolk until July 1955, and assumed his final duties 1 August 1955 as Commanding General, Aircraft, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific. He retired in 1959 and was promoted to the rank of lieutenant general.
As previously mentioned, the general held the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with Combat "V," Gold Star in lieu of a second and Oak Leaf Clusters in lieu of third and fourth awards, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star Medal and the Air Medal. His other medals and decorations include the Navy Unit Commendation Ribbon with one bronze star; the World War I Victory Medal; the Yangtze Service Medal; the Expeditionary Medal; the Second Nicaraguan Campaign Medal; the American Defense Service Medal with Base clasp; the American Area Campaign Medal; the Asiatic-Pacific Area Campaign Medal with one silver star in lieu of five bronze stars, The World War II Victory Medal, The National Defense Service Medal; the Korean Service Medal with three bronze stars; the United Nations Service Medal; the Philippine Liberation Ribbon with one bronze star and the rank of Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (New Zealand award).