Clarence Moore "Bob" Logsdon, U.S.N., U.S.A.F.

Clarence Moore "Bob" Logsdon US Navy 1939-1946, US Air Force 1948-1961
February 3, 1919-November 16, 2009

I lost my Dad today, you probably didn't know him, but had you, I'm certain you would have liked and respected him. He was just one of those guys. He grew up in a large family that had to weather the Great Depression. They were poor, but didn't know it. Dad was part of "The Greatest Generation" as news anchor Tom Brokaw so well put it, in his 1998 book of the same name. He was exactly like the men Brokaw wrote about, selfless, determined, hard working, God fearing, and endlessly patriotic, the kind of guy, "that just did the right thing."

Dad was born February 3, 1919 in Fairhope, Alabama, a beautiful, small town on the eastern shore of Mobile Bay. He always said it was the greatest town that a kid could ever hope to grow up in. He was the youngest of nine siblings, one, a girl died at birth. The family had a home on Mobile Bay in Volanta, where Dad's father also had a small store where he made his living selling fishing supplies, bait and the like. The old home site is now the location of the Fairhope Yacht Club.

Dad was well known around town as he excelled at any sport. As a young man he boxed at the Fairhope Casino and later in Pensacola. He won 35 out of 36 fights, his lone loss was in Pensacola to a hometown favorite on a split decision. After the fight his foe came to him and said, "you really won, you beat the devil out of me." He was a stellar athlete in school at the Organic High School in Fairhope. He played football, basketball, baseball, was a sprinter, pole vaulter and long jumper in track. In one track meet, his team won, and dad scored all but a few of the points of his teams total.

After High School Dad went to a trade school to learn woodworking, while there he played basketball for the school. They played area military teams and small colleges. At just over five feet six inches, he wasn't exactly the prototype basketball player. He was however super quick, a great ball handler, and had a deadly two handed set shot. Dad averaged about fifteen points per game in an age where most winning teams only scored about fifty points.

Dad served for a year in the Civilian Conservation Corps, a government agency that hired young men to work building dams, planting trees, fighting fires and the like. He served mostly in California and for a bit in the Florida Keys. The camps there had baseball, basketball and boxing programs which he played, excelled and enjoyed. A basketball scout from the University of Florida saw him play and soon after he was offered a scholarship to play for the Gators. Dad chose another path, opting to join the Navy, which he did in June of 1939. After training Dad was assigned to the light Cruiser, USS Omaha. He served on the Omaha in the Caribbean and later with a task force based in Portugal.

In October of 1941 Dad reported to Norfolk, Virginia as he was selected for the crew of the brand new Aircraft carrier, USS Hornet (CV8). He was there the day she was commissioned. Within weeks the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and the Hornet was sent out on it's shakedown cruise to get ready for deployment and combat. In March the Hornet sailed through the Panama Canal up to Alameda California Naval Air Station. There they picked up sixteen Army Air Force B-25 Mitchell bombers and headed off into the Pacific. The crew was soon told the Hornet would deliver the bombers to within a few hundred miles of Japan, where they would take off the deck of the carrier and bomb Tokyo and other Japanese cities. This of course was the famous Doolittle Raid of April 18, 1942.

Dad was the chief of the lookout battalion on the Hornet signal bridge. He is depicted in one of World War II most famous photograph's. This would be the photo of Doolittle's plane leaving the flight deck as the two lookouts look on. Dad is the shorter man in the foreground. The photo is in most history books about the second world war.

After the Doolittle Raid the Hornet was ordered to be part of the task force to stop the Japanese invasion of Midway Island. The Battle of Midway is considered the turning point in the war in the Pacific. Pilots from Hornet, Yorktown and Enterprise destroyed all four Japanese Aircraft Carriers, plus Heavy cruisers, destroyers and transports completely stopping the Jap invasion in its' tracks.

The Hornet with Dad aboard was sent to support the Marines at Guadalcanal. While providing air cover for the Marines. Dad watched as the fleet was under attack and he witnessed the carrier USS Wasp get hit by Jap torpedoes, burn and sink. While running "the slot" off Guadalcanal, A Japanese sub fired torpedoes at Hornet, a couple missed, but one was running dead true and couldn't miss. A quick thinking Hornet bomber pilot flying patrol overhead saw the torpedo heading for his ship and quickly put his plane into a dive and released a bomb that exploded in the water detonating the torpedo just in the nick of time.

With the Wasp Sunk, and Enterprise and Saratoga in for damage repair, the Hornet was the only operational American aircraft carrier in the Pacific. Hornet and her crew bore the brunt of air cover in the Solomon Islands during that period.

On October 24 1942, Hornet and the freshly repaired Enterprise teamed up to engage the Japanese fleet in the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands. The battle took place on the 26th and while planes from Hornet and Enterprise were attacking and sinking a Jap light carrier and heavily damaging a heavy carrier, the Japs were dead set on getting Hornet. The Hornet had embarrassed them with the Doolittle Raid and at Midway, they wanted her bad. Japanese dive bombers and torpedo planes attacked Hornet and three 500 lbs bombs penetrated her flight deck. Dad was at his post on the signal bridge, relaying info to the officers on the bridge about incoming attack planes. A Japanese dive bomber pilot dove his plane into the signal bridge some 20 feet from dad, showering most all of the lookouts in burning AVGAS, killing them. Dad was saved by a metal bulkhead that prevented him in being covered by the burning fuel. The Japs returned again and again to attack Hornet, landing torpedo and bomb hits. Finally the Captain gave the order to abandon ship. Dad was one of the last men off the ship, climbing down a rope into the sea. He swam for nearly an hour before being picked up by the Destroyer Anderson.

In 2001, Robert Ballard, the man that found the Titanic, interviewed dad for his book, "Graveyards of the Pacific." Ballard devoted two pages in the book, with dad relating the "Death of the Hornet."

Just days before the Battle of Santa Cruz, dad had received his orders to report to Pensacola for flight school. He had been accepted into the program to be trained as an Avenger Torpedo bomber pilot. After the Hornet sinking dad and other crewmen were dropped off on the island of Noumea where he contracted malaria. This effectively ended his opportunity to become a Naval Aviator. Dad spent much of his remaining time during the war training others both in the states and at Pearl Harbor, with intermittent long hospital stays for the malaria.

After the war Dad left the Navy and took a job as a civil service employee at Pensacola Naval Air Station. In January of 1948, dad re-enlisted in the service, this time in the Air Force. He served 13 years in the Air Force to go with his 7 in the Navy and retired after serving his country for 20 years.

While in the Air Force, dad was the skipper of Crash-Sea-Rescue boats. These were 85 ft long plywood boats that looked very much like the World War II PT boats. He was there at Bikini Atoll when they did the first Hydrogen bomb tests, he was at Cape Canaveral on the boats when the US sent up the first satellites. Dad retired from the Air Force in 1961 and shortly after took a job with the US Postal Service where he stayed for another 15 years.

Bob Logsdon traveled all over the world serving his country, he was there and participated in many historic events of the past century, so much so that my daughters Lindsay and Lacey call him "Forrest Gramps" after the fictional character in Winston Groom's book Forrest Gump.

Dad loved God and this country and he wouldn't abide fools that spoke with disrespect about either. In fact if you did he might just poke you in the nose...........and believe me when I say he was not a guy you would want to have poke you in the nose.

Dad and mom raised four kids, Mike, Robert, Joan and Jane. They were wonderful, loving parents that gave us every opportunity to succeed. Dad loved mom, Marjorie Logsdon, and adored his kids. He is forever my hero and guys like him should be yours.

Robert "Bosco" Logsdon
Nov. 16, 2009


April 20, 1942: Clarence M. "Bob" Logsdon (left), Signalman 1st Class Allan Q. Nations (center) and an unidentified crewman (hand up) on USS Hornet CV-8 as one of the Doolittle's B-25 bombers takes off for Tokyo, Japan. Allan Nations was killed on Oct. 26, 1942 during the Battle of the santa Cruz Islands.

Page published Oct. 7, 2007