Most recently of Leonardtown, Maryland, Clancy perhaps wasn’t as well known as some of the other men in the elite outfit of paratroopers, but his contributions were no less important. His life story was profiled in my 2009 book We Who Are Alive & Remain. Another journalist, Ronald Ooms, has been working on a full length book version of Clancy’s life.
Clancy was born October 14, 1925 in Orange, Texas. His father was a Scottish boatman who worked on oil tankers, and his mother was a full-blooded Cherokee from Oklahoma. The couple settled on a farm in Texas, which is where Clancy grew up. He was a rough and tumble boy who filled his hours by chopping wood, working on the family farm, and hunting squirrels, snakes, and cougars.
In 1939, when Clancy was 13, the family moved to Pennsylvania where Clancy’s father worked for an oil company. His mother had named him Clarence for the Latin word meaning “illustrious one,” but after the move, he changed his name to Clancy to avoid fistfights.
When Pearl Harbor hit, Clancy was only 16, but he was big for his age—5 foot 11 and about 160 pounds. He told the draft board he was 18 and was accepted. He trained at Camp Blanding in Florida, then at Fort Benning, Georgia, for Airborne training, then was sent to England with the the 2nd Battalion, 506th, Headquarters, heavy weapons.
Clancy jumped into Normandy on D-Day he was wounded during the battle of Carentan. He described the incident:
We attacked the town. Man, we were really fighting there. Me and a couple other guys could see around the corner of a building to a downstairs area with some Krauts in it. We decided to throw grenades at the target. As we rushed around with the grenades I ran around the corner and was stopped flat by a German. I plowed straight into his bayonet. His weapon stuck fast in my gut. We were both frozen, still standing up—I think he was as scared as I was. I shot first. As he fell backwards he pulled his bayonet out of my stomach. I put two rounds into him. I wasn’t shooting to wound then.
In the hospital in England, Clancy reunited with his father, who was being treated for hypothermia after his merchant marine ship had been torpedoed. When Clancy healed, he was reassigned to Easy Company in August 1944 and became a machine gunner.
Clancy fought valiantly in Operation Market-Garden in Holland and was wounded for the second time when shrapnel from a mortar round hit his leg. He was evacuated to a hospital in Brussels, then rejoined his company in Mourmelon, just in time for the Battle of Bastogne where he fought for forty days. Near the towns of Memming and Muhlhausen, Clancy helped liberate concentration camps.
After the war, Clancy reenlisted and was sent back to Germany. He served in the Korean was with the 187th Airborne and also in Indo-China. He resigned from the military in 1959 with the rank of Master Sergeant.
Following his career in the military he moved to Florida and worked as marketing director for Carvel Ice Cream.
He is survived by his loving wife, Liz, five children, and nine grandchildren.
Deepest gratefulness and tribute are extended to Clancy Lyall. He was a man who led well.