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Sterling Silver Thanks

posted in Objects of History on May 11, 2012

A sterling silver box reflects appreciation on the part of Air Group 86 for the executive officer of the carrier from which they flew their combat missions…

During World War II, which was fought over vast expanses of two oceans, air groups regularly rotated on and off specific carriers as combat weary aircrews were replaced by fresh ones.  Then, as now, air groups had to meld with the crews of the ships from which they flew, which was aided by the fact that the commanding officers and executive officers of aircraft carriers were themselves qualified naval aviators with their own reservoir of knowledge from previous tours in the cockpit.  The departure of one air group was always a notable occassion for in typical wartime combat tours that lasted for approximately four months, the ship’s crew and air group personnel had endured enemy air attacks, notable missions against the enemy, and inevitable losses that forged a true team.

Air Group 86, which operated from the aircraft carrier Wasp (CV 18) supporting the invasion of Okinawa and conducting strike missions against the Japanese Home Islands, presented this sterling silver box as an expression of their appreciation to Commander Joseph C. Clifton.  Nicknamed “Jumpin’ Joe” from his days as a Naval Academy running back, Clifton was himself a veteran carrier fighter squadron and air group commander before assuming the duties of Executive Officer of Wasp.  For anyone in position of command, there was no more satisfying sentiment than the one engraved to him, “He looked out for us.”