Carlson, 97, as been at The SUMMIT since 2005
Clarence Carlson, 97, has made The SUMMIT, senior housing with services, located on the Villa St. Vincent campus, his home since 2005.
Clarence is a World War II veteran, and since Nov. 11 is Veterans Day, Villa St. Vincent/The SUMMIT is taking the opportunity to honor not only Clarence, but all of the veterans living and working on the campus, too.
In the fall of 1942, at the age of 22, Clarence was drafted into the Army Air Force. When Pearl Harbor was bombed in 1941, he knew he would eventually be drafted into the military. His basic training was at McDill Air Base in Tampa, Florida. From there, he went on to continue training as a medic at hospitals in Florida and Louisiana.
During the summer of 1943, Clarence was stationed at Camp Kilmore, New Jersey. It was at that time, he was called to board the Queen Elizabeth, along with 22,000 other military and non-military people. “I remember one day on the ship, the waters were unsettled and many people were very sick to their stomach,” Carlson recalled. “A buddy of mine was using his helmet as a basin.” This friend was from the same hometown area as Clarence and they had gone into the military at the same time as well. That ended up being the last day Clarence spent with his friend as that friend was killed on D-Day.
After six days at sea, the Queen Elizabeth arrived in Scotland. Clarence, or “Swede,” as his military friend called him, quickly moved to England, where he moved from base to base, depending on where he was needed after various bombing missions. During this time, Clarence was a member of the T86 Bomb Group Ground Crew, better known as “The Crusaders.” Eventually, his troop went across “The Channel” to France and then on to Belgium. “I liked Belgium” Carlson noted. “There was not much of a language barrier and the food was good, fried eggs and French fries.”
In 1945, when Germany surrendered, Clarence was granted a 30-day leave. He returned home and clearly remembers being “out on the town” at a dance when the announcement was made that the Japanese had surrendered, too. After three years of military service, Clarence was then honorably discharged.
“I feel very fortunate to have been a part of the ground crew. If I had been on the flying crew, it could have been a different story,” Carlson said. “However, I never really worried one way or another. I just did what I had to do.”
In 1955, Clarence married Velma Herseth. They had two sons, Clair and Craig. Clarence spent his working career farming and working at American Crystal Sugar in Crookston.
Although Clarence has many military memories, he said one of his best is from 2009 when he and most of his family visited the World War II Veteran’s Memorial in Washington D.C.
Villa St. Vincent is contracted with the Veteran’s Administration (VA) to provide qualifying veterans (as determined by the VA) short term care and rehabilitation, long term skilled nursing care and memory care.