Veterans Voice: Clyde Skinner
Ninety-three year old Clyde Skinner of Cameron served in the United States Marine Corps during World War ll. He is still active today, loves to work as a heavy equipment operator and currently has three jobs!
Clyde joined the Marine Corps in his home state at Omaha, Nebraska. He was a 17 year old farm boy. He went to San Diego for Basic training at a time when new recruits were rushed through the system.
After Basic he first found himself on a ship to New Caledonia and from there spent a week in the New Hebrides Islands, before approximately 5 months in Guadalcanal. From there he spent 6 weeks in the Admiralty Islands before going to Bougainville Island near Papua, New Guinea.
Virtually all of Skinner’s service time was spent in the South Pacific. He worked in support services, keeping front line troops supplied with ammunition and other needed supplies. He was issued an M1 rifle which he never had occasion to use, other than keeping it clean.
For a while he served with a Colonel Roberts on a converted Higgins boat which served as unit Headquarters. Clyde served as a coxswain on the boat which made daily trips to a nearby island to pick up supplies and ferry them back to the Headquarters Island. Skinner said that the Higgins would be steered onto the shore before lowering the front for the loading of supplies. The trip took and entire day, and there was a steady stream of boats going back and forth between the islands.
Clyde served at the Receiving Depot of the 1st Marine Air Wing. He was assigned to a variety of jobs, basically working where needed. During his time there he came in contact with Marine Corps Ace Pilot Joe Foss who won the Congressional Medal of Honor for his participating in the air battles of Guadalcanal, where he was credited for personally shooting down 26 Japanese aircraft.
Clyde says that his experience with machinery could have been put to better use, but that the military didn’t operate that way at the time. He also commented that the men were issued 2 beers and two “Cokes” 3 days a week. Some of the men would save them and have a “real party” on a weekend.
When his tour of duty was over, he flew back to the Admiralty Islands for his first flight during the service on a DC3. The plane was full except for 1 seat, and another guy had priority, but switched with him. He said that the plane took off from a cliff and fell sharply toward the water after takeoff and frightened all on board before slowly gaining altitude. He said that during the flight home, the atomic bomb was dropped on Japan.
Once back in the states he volunteered for the East Coast, saying he had “seen enough of the Pacific”.Two of his friends became part of the occupation force in Japan, as did a cousin who was a paratrooper.
He was eventually sent to Cherry Point, NC. While there he again met the man who had given him the last seat on the plane.
On April 4th, 1946 he returned to the family farm in Nebraska. He eventually moved to a farm in Iowa. He also owned a dozer saying he would “run the dozer by day, and farm by night”.
Eventually he switched strictly to the dozing business. He built “more watersheds than he could count” in Missouri, along with hog confinements, and roads. He also on the building of I-35 in Iowa.
He received a contract to work building a large dam not far from Moberly, MO. They loaded their equipment in Ames, Iowa, and drove to Moberly. Clyde was the “escort vehicle” which consisted of a red flag held out of the window. At Christmas he went back to Iowa and decided to “stay home” for a while. He eventually followed his son, Terry, to Cameron in 2004 and has stayed. He still works as an equipment operator and works most days.
He was married to his wife, Shirley Marie in 1947, and they had 3 children. Shirley passed away in 2015 after nearly 70 years of marriage.
Clyde most remembers the good people he met in the military and still has respect for the Marine Corps.