AFRH-W Resident Highlight
By Christine Baldwin, Librarian
Clarence Vold was born in South Dakota; the only one of his three siblings that was born in a hospital. He was raised on a farm by a father that encouraged his children to follow their dreams. Clarence enjoyed his experiences growing up on the plains of South Dakota, which included completing grade school in a one-room school and surviving winter blizzards. On one occasion, he even got lost in his own yard! His father planned on Clarence taking his place on the farm, but Clarence saw a different future that did not include farming. He went to college, but it wasn’t for him at the time.
Clarence was then inspired by John Kennedy, and he answered the challenge for America by joining the U.S. Air Force. Clarence would have the opportunity to travel and this led to an assignment in the Northern Honshu region of Japan. Love was in the air for him, but it was cut short by the death of his father. Further assignments came and then came marriage. With 8 years of service, a critical decision had to be made; either become a civilian or stay in the Air Force. Clarence’s choice was to stay in and he made the Air Force a 30 year career that culminated in the promotion to the highest enlisted rank. His career included assignments as an electronics technician, a military training instructor and instructor supervisor, a KC & EC-135 boom operator, until he was grounded medically. Clarence also scheduled alert and flight training, missile crew alert duty and administrative airlift missions for the 5th Air Force. He then went into aircraft operations management. His boom operator experience included 43 combat missions. This included one mission that was very frightening in retrospect – he was in a KC-135 Stratotanker, following a flight of F-4s towards Hanoi during Linebacker II and at one point was only about two miles ahead of a B-52 bomb strike! Clarence was served at Headquarters 5th Air Force, where he was involved in the KAL Flight 007 recovery operations in 1983.
Clarence retired in 1989 and his second attempt at college was a success. He worked for the Hertz Corporation for five years. In 2015, Clarence had his book Farmer’s Son, Military Career published, which details his life from rural America to his Air Force career (A copy of this book is at the library.) He came to AFRH-W in 2016.