AAFA #0592




Walter and Patricia Clerihew



Fort Worth, Tarrant Co., TX—Tuesday, 25 October 2005



WALTER M. “CORKY” CLERIHEW — 1931 – 2005


            From his morphine stupor, Corky Clerihew opened a single, clear eye Friday [October 21] night, his wife said.

            “I can’t go with you, but I hope you’ll save a place for me,” she whispered.

            Then Mr. Clerihew, former jet pilot, rancher and devout Christian, died quietly at 74, a delayed casualty of Vietnam, his family said.

            Walter M. Clerihew was born March 11, 1931, in Antelope to a Jack County cattle-ranching family. His mother hated the name his father picked, so she opened the Star-Telegram and nicknamed him Corky, after a Gasoline Alley comic character.

            He graduated from Jacksboro High School in 1948 and joined the Air Force two years later. By then he had married Patricia Sloan.

            Mr. Clerihew became a pilot instructor, but he also graduated with a meteorology degree from Texas A&M University. In Vietnam, he flew O-1 Bird Dog reconnaissance planes, targeting enemy soldiers with phosphorus rockets as a forward air controller.

            Former Star-Telegram reporter Bob Schieffer wrote a front-page story, “FACS Play Key Air War Role,” based on a flight he took with Clerihew. Schieffer also recounts Mr. Clerihew’s piloting in his memoir, This Just In.

            Schieffer quotes Mr. Clerihew: “I figured out the best way to find them is just to fly in low and see if anybody shoots.”

            Mr. Clerihew spent 20 years in the Air Force. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with 21 oak leaf clusters and the Gallantry Cross with gold star from the Vietnamese Air Force.

            From 1970 to 1982, he worked 1,200 acres in Jermyn as a cattle rancher until retiring because of his health.

            For the last six years, Clerihew had had prostate cancer. His medical care was covered by the military, which recognized the likelihood that the cancer was the result of his Vietnam service. His group of pilots had once sheltered in a zone cleared with Agent Orange, said his son, Army Col. James Clerihew.

            Mr. Clerihew leaves a military legacy. Besides his son, who flew home from Worms, Germany, for the funeral, Mr. Clerihew’s granddaughter Constance is in the Air Force ROTC at the University of Wyoming.

            Other survivors include daughter Susan Hruzek of Houston and son Rex Clerihew of Lockhart.


AAFA NOTES: SSDI records confirm the birth and death dates of Walter M. Clerihew (SS# issued in TX OK), last residence Jacksboro, Jack Co., TX.

            His Alford lineage, from his mother: Claudia D. 1901 TX2, James Noel Welch 1864 TX3, Jacob Lauhon 1834 LA4, Needham Judge 1789 NC5, Jacob 1761 NC6, Julius 1717 VA7, James 1687 VA8, John 1645 VA9.