On August 24, the Coast Guard will commission its sixth Sentinel Class Fast-Response Cutter, the Paul Clark in Miami, Florida, where it will be home ported. The commissioning ceremony is sponsored by the Coast Guard Foundation, and its generous supporters, Bollinger Shipyards, and L-3 Communications. In addition to the commissioning ceremony, the Foundation will provide a $5,000 Shipmate grant to the crew of the Clark for their morale and exercise needs.
The Clark joins four other fast-response cutters in the Coast Guard fleet named for enlisted heroes of the service: Bernard C. Webber, Richard Etheridge, William Flores and Robert Yered. The sixth ship in the FRC class is named for Margaret Norvell, a lighthouse keeper who served in the U.S. Lighthouse Service for 40 years.
From the official Coast Guard news release:
The cutter’s namesake is Fireman First Class Paul Leaman Clark. Clark served in World War II and participated in Operation Torch, the Allied invasion of North Africa, in November 1942. Clark was a landing boat engineer responsible for the hazardous task of unloading soldiers and supplies from the boats on to the beach, where personnel were vulnerable to enemy fire.
Early in the invasion, Clark was unloading a landing boat on the shore of French Morocco that came under fire from a Luftwaffe aircraft. The assault damaged the boat and wounded two of the boat’s crew members, one of them mortally.
Clark, in the face of the great danger, assumed control of the boat, withdrew from the beach and sped towards a U.S. Navy destroyer, the USS Palmer, where he transferred the wounded crew members to safety. He then returned the damaged boat to the beach to complete its mission. Clark was awarded the Navy Cross for his heroism, one of only six Coast Guardsmen to receive the award during World War II.
The Coast Guard Foundation is proud to be a part of recognizing the heroism of people like Paul Clark, who set an example for all members of the Coast Guard to follow.