61 years later, Marysville veteran gets Purple Heart

EVERETT — Lt. Col. Clarence Summers Jr. was wounded in action 61 years ago while flying over North Africa.

On Monday, Summers received his Purple Heart, more than 60 years later.

Summers was a missile officer on a flight mission during which he and his crew bombed a submarine and two ships. They were returning to their base when the plane was hit by German or Italian fire that knocked out one of the plane’s engines. Summers was wounded by shrapnel that struck behind his seat.

Summers said it really wasn’t anyone else’s fault that it took so long for him to get the award. He said it was his fault.

At the time, he turned down the meritorious award because 10 buddies had died. Later, he was told he’d have to produce two witnesses in order to receive the medal.

Summers, 89, of Marysville received the award from Col. Byard B. Bower of Stanwood, now retired. Both served in the Air Force. Bower was instrumental in helping Summers get the award.

Summers spent 25 years in the Army, Army Air Corps, Reserves and the Air Force. He began his military service in the Reserve Officer Training Corps and later was commissioned into the Army infantry in 1937. He served in the Army Air Corps, which became the Air Force.

During World War II, Summers flew in the African and Indian campaigns. He was injured in the fall of 1942.

Summers returned to active duty in Okinawa during the Korean War.

He later returned to ROTC, where he served as a unit commander and performed missile wing maintenance until he retired in 1961.

The medal ceremony occurred at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 2100 Hall, where U.S. Congressman Rick Larson, D-Wash., was the guest speaker.

Larsen talked to about 60 veterans about the effect of the disabled veterans’ tax and the long waits for veterans seeking health care.

Reporter Cathy Logg: 425-339-3437 or logg@heraldnet.com.

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