Clarence John Aschenbrenner never had a chance to reach 100 years old today. Instead, he sacrificed his life for our freedom.
He was born on May 30, 1918 in Minnesota. His parents Lawrence and Rosa were also both born in Minnesota. His father worked as a farmer. Because his mother died shortly after he was born, he was raised by his paternal grandmother. Clarence had three younger brothers and five younger sisters from his father's second marriage.
Clarence joined the Navy on June 13, 1938. His shipmates gave him the nickname "Bull" because of this strength. He was assigned to the USS Marblehead where he was a shipfitter 2nd class.
Marblehead was a WW I era light cruiser that was assigned to the Asiatic Fleet in 1938. Shipfitter Aschenbrenner would spend four Christmases in Asia, not getting a chance to return home to visit family.
Marblehead was in Borneo when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and the Philippines. The Asiatic Fleet was isolated and outnumbered by the enemy and was particularly vulnerable to air attack. Marblehead was spotted and attacked by 36 Japanese bombers on February 4, 1942 at Makassar Strait. While evading most of the bombs, Marblehead did suffer two direct hits and a near miss that could have resulted in sinking had not the crew been able to successfully repair the ship enough to escape to a port on the south side of Java. Shipfitter Aschenbrenner was recommended for a medal for actions that put him in harm's way that helped save the ship.
Permanent repairs were not possible in the area, so the damaged ship limped first to Ceylon and then South Africa. While in a South African port on March 18, 1942 Shipfitter Aschenbrenner tried to rescue a shipmate who had been overcome by bilge gas. He was unsuccessful and was also overcome and died.
Clarence Aschenbrenner was posthumously awarded the Silver Star for his actions at Makassar Strait and South Africa.
His grave is at New Ulm Catholic Cemetery, New Ulm, Minnesota.
Also born on the same day as Clarence was a native born Ohioan by the name of Bob Evans. His parents owned a grocery store. Although he went to school to study veterinarian medicine, he bought a restaurant in 1940 but sold it when he was inducted into the Army in 1943.
Last year on this date I profiled Creed Carter, 38th Infantry Division. You can read about Creed here.
On behalf of the fallen, if you would like to see more people become aware of this project to honor the WW2 fallen, be sure to share with others on Twitter, Facebook, etc. Thanks for your interest!
I created this video to explain why I started this project: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXt8QA481lY.
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