‘The poor guys who had to be up on the deck in the North Atlantic, they were mighty cold.’

R.R. ‘Russell’ Clark, U.S. sailor

‘The poor guys who had to be up on the deck in the North Atlantic, they were mighty cold.’

R.R. ‘Russell’ Clark, U.S. sailor

When a football injury left Russell Clark with a hernia, he knew he’d be disqualified for military service. But 18-year-old Clark, born and raised on a Kansas farm, was determined to join his two brothers at war. He paid for the operation to correct his condition, then enlisted.

By early 1945 Clark was somewhere in the North Atlantic, working in the engine room of the escort destroyer U.S.S. Farquhar. “It was hot and steamy down there—100 degrees,” recalls 95-year-old Clark.

Despite the long, hot hours below deck, Clark considered himself lucky. “The poor guys who had to be up on the deck in the North Atlantic, they were mighty cold,” he says. His one brush with enemy came the morning after Germany’s surrender. A Nazi sub that apparently hadn’t gotten the memo bore down on the Farquhar.

“We had no choice,” he says. “We made a torpedo run on them.”

An oil slick was all that remained.

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