Clifford Conrad DeFord was born in Bellwood, Nebraska, on August 3, 1904, son of Henry C. and Mary Ann (Miester) DeFord, both now deceased. He graduated from David City (Nebraska) School in 1922 and in 1927 received the degree of Doctor of Dental Surgery from the University of Nebraska College of Dentistry at Lincoln. Prior to entering naval service, he was engaged in the private practice of dentistry in Columbus, Nebraska, for two years. Commissioned Lieutenant (junior grade) in the Dental Corps of the US Navy on August 22, 1929, he subsequently advanced in rank, attaining that of Rear Admiral to date from April 1, 1955.
Upon receiving his commission in 1929, he reported as Assistant Dental Officer at the Naval Training Center, Great Lakes, Illinois. He remained there until February 1931, when he was assigned similar duty at the US Naval Hospital, Norfolk, Virginia. Transferred in September 1931 to the US Naval Hospital, Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii, he served as Assistant Dental Officer until December 1934, after which he attended a six months’ postgraduate course in Prosthodontia at the University of Southern California at Los Angeles.
In April 1935 he reported as Assistant Dental Officer at the US Naval Hospital, Chelsea, Massachusetts, and in October 1936 joined USS Astoria as Assistant Dental Officer. He continued service afloat as Dental Officer of USS Utah, from October 1938 to November 1939, then was assigned to the Naval Dispensary, Washington, DC. He was an Instructor at the Naval Dental School, Bethesda, Maryland, between February 1941 and January 1943, after which he had duty as Assistant Naval Attache at the United States Embassy, Moscow, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. While there he established a Dental Office, and also served as Officer Courier Censor.
Returning to the United States in November 1944, he was assigned duty as Dental Officer at the Naval Receiving Station, Terminal Island, California, and in August 1945 became Chief of Dental Service at the US Naval Hospital, Long Beach, California. He reported in March 1948 as Dental Officer in Command at the Naval Dental Clinic, Quantico, Virginia, and from September 1951 until June 1954 was Senior Dental Officer at the Naval Station, Long Beach, California. In July 1954 he assumed command of the Naval Dental Clinic, Pear Harbor, Territory of Hawaii, with collateral duty as District Dental Officer of the Fourteenth Naval District. He remained there until February 1956, when he was ordered to duty as Commanding Officer of the Naval Dental Clinic, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
On September 23, 1956 he reported as Inspector, Naval Dental Activity, Atlantic Coast, with additional duty as Inspector and Advisor on the Staff of Commander Eastern Sea Frontier, and Dental Officer, Third Naval District, at Headquarters in New York, New York. He reported on September 28, 1959, as Inspector General, Dental, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, Navy Department, and on February 28, 1963 reported as Director Naval Dental Activities, Field Branch, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, Pacific Coast. There he had additional duty as District Officer, Twelfth Naval District; Director and Advisor on Dental Matters to Commander Western Sea Frontier; and as a member of the Staff of Commander Military Sea Transportation Service, Pacific Area.
In January 1965 he became Force Dental Officer, Staff, Commander Service Force, Pacific Fleet, with additional duty as Fleet Dental Officer, Staff, Commander in Chief, US Pacific Fleet. He served as such until relieved of active duty pending his retirement, effective July 1, 1965.
Admiral DeFord has the American Defense Service Medal with star; European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal; American Medal; World War II Victory Medal; and the National Defense Service Medal. He is a member of the American Dental Association.