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Clarence Calvin Comer

Courtesy Comer family

West Virginia Veterans Memorial


Clarence Calvin Comer

"I told you the other day in one of my letters I was a different boy . . . . I've changed my ways of living, and God being my helper I expect to continue living his life."

Clarence Calvin Comer, letter home, October 12, 1945

Private First Class Clarence Calvin Comer was born June 17, 1925, to parents Owen Burton and Glendora Carte Comer in Harrison, Clay County, West Virginia. Clarence had four siblings: an older brother Warren (born c. 1923), two younger sisters Mary Ruth (born 1929) and Betty (born 1931), and a younger brother James (born c. 1934). They lived on a farm that the father Owen worked. Pfc. Comer's sister Betty recalls that though the family was not materially wealthy, they more than made up for it by being extraordinarily close-knit and loving. Clarence was "a real comedian" who loved the outdoors and animals. He always seemed to have a special bond with the family work horse, Old Mack. He also had a high school sweetheart named Earlene Young.
Old Mack

Clarence with Old Mack. Courtesy Comer family

The Comer family had something of a tradition of military service; Clarence's father Owen served as a cook for the Army in World War I and his older brother Warren served in the 34th Infantry as a machine gunner in World War II. It was inevitable then that Clarence would follow in his older brother's footsteps to fight, enlisting on January 9, 1944, according to his obituary in the September 16, 1948, edition of the Clay Free Press, several months before he would have received his high school diploma. He was assigned to the 406th Infantry, part of the 102nd Infantry Division, where he would spend the duration of the conflict.

Seeing conflict had a profound effect on young Clarence, and in his letters back to his family it shows. He speaks of accepting Jesus Christ as his personal savior. In a letter dated from October 12, 1944, Clarence writes about how he "wish[es] [he] was back home to go to church" with his mother and father. Pfc. Comer says that like himself, "There's been lots of boys that changed their way of living since they came over [to the war]." Clarence managed to avoid any substantive injury for the duration of the war; his brother Warren was wounded in action and returned home to recuperate. After Berlin fell, Clarence stayed in Germany with his unit. Unfortunately, he would never be able to return home and attend church services with his family, or his sweetheart Earlene.

On January 27, 1946, Clarence's father Owen received a telegram at the Widen mine, where he worked for a short period of time. It informed him of Clarence Comer's untimely and unexpected death. The Colonel commanding Clarence's 406th Infantry wrote about the circumstances of Clarence's death in a letter to the family dated January 28:

[Clarence] was a jeep driver for Cannon Company of this regiment. Last night [January 27], at 8:30 P.M. at the junction of Naila, Bad Steben and Nala Holle roads at Marxgun, Germany, the jeep which [Clarence] was driving skidded on the icy road, spun around and hit a tree. [Clarence] suffered a concussion of the brain. [and] he died 12 hours later.

Clarence's treasures

Clarence's treasures. Courtesy Comer family

The only belongings in Clarence's possession upon his death were a ragged copy of the New Testament and a gold pin bearing the name of his childhood sweetheart, Earlene.

Pfc. Comer was initially interred in Germany, before being brought back to be buried in the Chapman Cemetery in Clay County on September 19, 1948. His brother, who bore not just the emotional scars of losing a brother, but also the physical scars due to the injuries he sustained in the war, would name his first-born son after Clarence Calvin.

Clarence's headstone, Chapman Cemetery. Courtesy Comer family

Family information provided by Betty Butler and Ruth Comer. Article prepared by Camden Elliott.


Clarence Comer

West Virginia Archives and History welcomes any additional information that can be provided about these veterans, including photographs, family names, letters and other relevant personal history.

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