Jack William Clinton was born in Saltillo, Texas, on October 23, 1916, son of Loy Nelson and Annie Gladys (Christenberry) Clinton. He attended the University of California at Los Angeles (1935-1939), and for a year, prior to entering active naval service, was employed by the Public Relations Department of the Columbia Broadcasting System, Los Angeles, California. On January 3, 1941 he enlisted in the US Naval Reserve and after elimination flight training was appointed Aviation Cadet, USNR. Completing flight training at the Naval Air Station, Corpus Christi, Texas, he was commissioned Ensign on August 30, 1941 and was designed Naval Aviator the following month. He subsequently advanced in rank to that of Captain, to date from July 1, 1960, having transferred from the Naval Reserve to the US Navy on December 4, 1946.
After receiving his “Wings” in 1941, he joined Patrol Squadron Eleven and was serving with that squadron when the United States entered World War II, December 8, 1941. He subsequently participated in the Battles of Midway and Guadalcanal and on September 11, 1942 was shot down by enemy fighter planes. Picked up by a Japanese destroyer northeast of the Solomon Islands, he was a Prisoner of War of the Japanese until released to United States forces on September 11, 1945. He was awarded the Air Medal and cited in part as follows:
“For meritorious achievement while participating as member of the crew of a Patrol Plane during action against enemy Japanese forces in the Solomon Island Area from August 5 to September 11, 1942. In addition to active engagement in the seizure of Ndeni on August 5, Ensign Clinton, during the initial battle of the Solomon’s, flew a total of fifty-six hours in four days. On September 6, his plane, with the assistance of another patrol plane, severely damaged and probably destroyed a Japanese four-engined bomber. On September 11, as his plane was preparing to attack a Japanese seaplane tender, it was fired upon by numbers of hostile fighters and forces down at sea…”
After a period of rehabilitation, he had duty as Assistant Operations Officer with the Pilotless Aircraft Unit, Mojave, California, during February and March 1946, after which he had refresher training until December of that year at the Naval Air Station, Corpus Christi, Texas; Pensacola, Florida; Hutchinson, Kansas; and Whiting Field, Milton, Florida. He was next assigned as Administrating Officer at the Naval Air Station, Alameda, California, with collateral duty as Public Information Officer. In March 1948 he reported for instruction at the Naval School, General Line, Monterey, California, and after completing the course there, joined the USS Floyds Bay (AVP-40), to serve from January to September 1949 as Operations Officer, Acting Executive and Navigator. Detached from the seaplane tender, he then had duty in connection with aircraft maintenance at the Naval Auxiliary Air Station, Monterey, California.
In December 1950 he joined Patrol Squadron Forty-Nine as Executive Officer and in November 1952 became Administrative Officer at the Naval Air Station, Miramar, California. In that assignment, which extended on July 1954, he also served as Public Information Officer. Following instruction (Command and Staff Course) at the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island, he reported in September 1955 as Executive Officer of Patrol Squadron Forty and in December 1956 assumed command of that squadron. He was attached to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Washington, DC, from August 1958 until July 1961, after which he was Assistant Head of the Policy Coordination, Diplomatic Clearance and International Aviation Branch and Assistant for National Security Council Matters, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Navy Department, Washington, DC
In September 1963 he became District Intelligence Officer in the Fifteenth Naval District, headquartered in Fort Amador, Canal Zone. He remained there until September 1966, then reported as Director, Civil Relations Divisions, Office of Information, Navy Department.
In addition to the Air Medal, Captain Clinton has the American Defense Service Medal; American Campaign Medal; Asiatic-pacific Campaign Medal; World War II Victory Medal; China Service Medal; and the National Defense Service Medal, with star.