Spry Owen Claytor was born in Prince Frederick, Maryland, on December 16, 1889, son of Alexander Randall Claytor and Nannie Duke Claytor, both deceased. He attended Newark (Ohio) High School and the Army-Navy Preparatory School in Washington, DC, and in 1917 graduated from the George Washington University, Dental School, Washington. He was appointed Assistant Dental Surgeon, with the rank of Lieutenant, junior grade, in the Dental Corps, United States Navy, to rank from October 16, 1917, and subsequently advanced in grade to the rank of Rear Admiral to date from July 15, 1942. He transferred to the Retired List of the Navy on January 1, 1952 having reached the statutory age.
Reporting for active duty in December, 1917, he was assigned to the Marine Camp, Quantico, Virginia, for three months’ instruction there, and was then ordered to the Naval Hospital, L’Oriente, France, where he served until April, 1919. After two months with the Naval Nucleus Crew #3 at Paulliac, France, alter with the Naval Base Hospital #5 Brest, France, he returned to the United States, and was attached to the Receiving Ship in Brooklyn, New York.
He had two tours at the Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, serving in the Dental Department from August, 1919 to May, 1923 and from July, 1925 to June, 1928. At intervals during that period he served aboard the USS Hampshire, USS South Carolina, and USS Wyoming. In July, 1928, he joined the USS Raleigh, serving in that cruiser with the Scouting Force two years. Ordered to duty in the Naval Dispensary, navy Department, Washington, DC, he was so attached from July, 1930 to May, 1934. Reporting the next month to the University of California, College of Dentistry in Berkeley, he attended the course of instruction from June to September, 1934.
He reported aboard the USS Holland, submarine tender, and when detached in January, 1937, he had duty in the Navy Yard, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, serving there until February, 1939. Ordered to the 16th Naval District for duty at the Naval Hospital, Canacao, P.I., he served there until January, 1940, when he was assigned duty with the Marine Detachment, American Embassy, Peiping, China, and served one year.
Returning to the Naval Dispensary in the Navy Department, he served from May, 1941 continuous to January, 1946, as Senior Dental Officer. For that period of service, he received a Letter of Commendation from the Secretary of the Navy, the citation stating in part: “For outstanding performance of duty as Senior Dental Officer of the Naval Dispensaries, Navy Department, Washington, DC, throughout World War II. Charged with the establishing and administration of dental sections of six dispensaries in the area, (he) was personally responsible for providing adequate dental care for the Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and Allied personnel stationed in Washington…”
He was ordered to the Naval Academy, Annapolis, and from January, 1946 to February, 1948 he again served as Command Dental Officer with additional duty on the staff of the Severn River Naval Command. He reported in March, 1948 as Inspector of Dental Activities, West Coast and District Dental Officer, 12th Naval District, at San Francisco, California. He remained there until June, 1950, when he reported in the Navy Department, for duty as Assistant Chief of the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (Dentistry), and Chief of the Dental Division. He was so serving when relieved of active duty pending his transfer to the Retired List of the Navy on January 1, 1952.
In addition to the Commendation Ribbon, Rear Admiral Claytor has the Victory Medal, Overseas Clasp (WWI); the China Service Medal; the American Defense Service Medal, Base Clasp; the American Campaign Medal; and the World War II Victory Medal.