CLUB OF GALVESTON
MEMORIAL DAY PROGRAM
MAY 23, 2012
FISHERMAN'S WHARF RESTAURANT
by Mike Guarino
Honoring the Life of
LT. COL. MAX CLARK, U.S.M.C.R.
JULY 9, 1897
KILLED IN ACTION: OCTOBER 24, 1944
MILITARY AWARDS FOR VALOR:
I: SILVER STAR, PURPLE HEART,
CROIX DE GUERRE WITH PALM FROM FRANCE
WW II: NAVY CROSS, 3 PURPLE HEARTS
THE EXTRAORDINARY STORY OF MAX CLARK
-Let's talk about Max Clark, whose life we celebrate
-He was a product of Ball High.
-Enlisted in U.S. Army in 1916 at the age of 18.
-He first served under General John Pershing and saw action
against Poncho Villa in Mexico.
-Shipped out to France during WW I as a young infantryman
with the Army's 2nd Division and advanced to the rank
of First Sergeant.
-Saw combat in 4 different campaigns. Was awarded the
Silver Star for heroism during the Meuse-Argonne campaign.
-Awarded the Purple Heart for wounds received in France
on July 1, 1918.
-Awarded the coveted Croix de Guerre (Cross of War) with
Palm by France for valor.
-Served with the Occupation Forces in Germany
-He did not return to Galveston until 1921.
-Married the love of his life, Tina Sakowitz in 1924.
Had 2 great sons, Irving and Sam.
-Went into business with his dad operating Clark Shoe
Store in Galveston.
-I do not believe that Max Clark was a Rotarian, but he
would have been a great one. If anyone ever lived their
life in accordance with our Rotary motto of "Service
Above Self" it was him. Max was commander of the
American Legion post here and was active in local and
state veteran affairs. He was a member of the Junior Chamber
of Commerce, the Fraternal Order of the Eagle, The Knights
of Pythias and of Temple B'nai Israel.
- Max Clark loved his military roots and soon after returning
to Galveston after WW I, joined the Army reserve and was
commissioned a second lieutenant. In 1935 Max was instrumental
in starting the Junior ROTC program at Ball High. He is
known as its Founder. Many in the school system as well
as in the community initially opposed its formation. They
thought government was trying to militarize youth. Max
successfully championed the need for the unit and eventually
convinced opponents that military training was certainly
a part of this type program, but not the main part. He
eloquently argued that the Program was designed to teach
students leadership, history, good citizenship and instilling
in them the principals of democracy. The Galveston community
came together and supported it. That ROTC Program has
produced countless community leaders over the years as
well as men and women who later would fight in WW II,
Korea, Vietnam and even in Iraq and Afghanistan as we
meet here today. The Program remains an important part
of what is offered at Ball H.S. We are proud to have some
representatives of the ROTC unit with us today. Welcome
Major Andre Morrison, 1st Sgt. Willie Whittie and Sgt.
First Class Eduardo Gonzalez as well as Ball High cadet
commanders 2nd Lieutenants Gustavo Guiterrez, Rebekka
Urbina and Michael Mendez.
- Max remained in the Army reserve until 1937 when he
transferred to the brand new Marine Reserve unit in Galveston
(15th Fleet Battalion), that Colonel Clark Thompson had
-To join the Marine unit Max had to take a doctors physical.
Max's family has the letter the doctor composed after
the physical. It's not a good letter. The doctor recommended
against the Marines taking him, referring to a few teeth
Max had lost during his life. Colonel Thompson and his
other Marine buddies thought the world of him and disregarded
the doctor's recommendation in a "New York Minute."
But, I'm told, that was not the first time the Marines
weren't sure they wanted him. As a youngster in 1916,
Max had tried to join the Marines. The Marine recruiter
looked him over and said: "You are mighty short and
scrawny; we're looking for men, son. You see that door
down the hall, that's the army recruiting office and they
may take you."
Between 1937 and 1940, Max trained with his new Unit
as he continued working and raising his young family here
-With Nazi Germany's and Imperial Japan's aggression
in Europe and Asia, Max's Marine unit of about 400 men
was mobilized in the fall of 1940. The men were primarily
from Galveston, Texas City and Houston. Max was a Captain
at the time of the mobilization.
-The unit was sent to San Diego, California.
-We are honored to have 3 men who were members of that
unit with us today. They served under Max Clark here in
Galveston, were mobilized with him, were sent to California
with him but then were split off from him when they drew
new unit assignments. (All except Bill Snipes who was
15 in 1940). These 3 men would go on to distinguish themselves
as great Marines who fought in WW II. They are truly great
-Would our own Colonel Lee Weber, Arthur Trimarchi and
Bill Snipes please stand and be recognized.
-We have with us today current Marines who lead our Marine
unit here in Galveston. Would Sergeant Major Eduardo Guzman,
First Sgt. Alfredo Franco, Gunnery Sergeants Christopher
Evans and David Maynor please stand and be recognized.
-From California, Max Clark was assigned in April 1941
to the 4th Marine Regiment in Shanghai, China. That was
8 months before Pearl Harbor. The 4th Marines were known
as the "China Marines". Since 1927, they had
protected American interests throughout China.
-In November 1941, with war looming on the horizon, they
were re-deployed to the Philippines.
-Max Clark was assigned to the 3rd Battalion as Company
Commander of Company I.
-Promoted to Major
-The Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941
destroying much of our Pacific Fleet. Days later the Japanese
began their brutal assault on 2 other critical American
garrisons in the Pacific: Wake Island and the Philippines.
Both were terribly undermanned and vulnerable to Japanese
-The attack on the Philippines began on December 10th.
-Max Clark was awarded the Navy Cross for his heroism
in the defense of the Philippines from December 10 to
the 19th, 1941. This made him one of the first Marines
in WW II to be awarded the Navy Cross, the second highest
decoration for bravery in combat-second only to the Medal
- We have secured a copy of his Navy Cross citation and
our own, Colonel Mike Cowan, a highly decorated fighter
pilot; will present it at this time. Mike will also share
some reflections from Max Clark's commanding officer.
It certainly describes the kind of man Max Clark was.
-Max Clark fought on Bataan and then defended Corregidor,
known as the "rock," during horrendous fighting.
He was wounded in action twice. On April 2 and again on
April 24, 1942. The 4th Marine Regiment in the Philippines
was perhaps the most unusual Marine unit in history. Its
numbers swelled to 4,000 officers and men drawn from all
the services. When their planes, ships and commands were
lost, soldiers, airman and sailors joined and fought with
the 4th Marines.
-The United States was unable to re-enforce or re-supply
our troops in the Philippines. The defenders of the Philippines
referred to themselves as the "Battling bastards
of Bataan. No papa, no mama, no uncle Sam."
-The Japanese siege of the Philippines lasted 5 long months.
-General Douglas MacArthur, who commanded all troops in
the Philippines, would later write: "Our troops were
now approaching exhaustion. The clouds were growing darker.
My heart ached as I saw my men slowly wasting away. Their
clothes hung on them like tattered rags. Their bare feet
stuck out in silent protest. Their long bedraggled hair
framed gaunt bloodless faces. They asked no quarter and
they gave none. They died hard-not gently like a stricken
dove folding its wings in peaceful passing, but like a
wounded wolf at bay, with lips curled back in sneering
menace, and always reaching for the machete knife which
long ago they had substituted for the bayonet."
-In May 1942, after being decimated by disease, starvation,
and running out of ammunition, the 4th Marine Regiment
and all other American and Philippine defense forces surrendered
their positions and were captured.
-Max Clark endured the 90 mile Bataan Death March where
hundreds of American and Filipino prisoners died.
-Fellow soldiers and Marines would later report that during
the march, Max Clark intervened when a young American
soldier was caught with a small piece of fruit that was
left along the road by Filipino villagers. The standing
order was that prisoners caught with food would be immediately
executed. The guards were about to execute the soldier,
but Max Clark stepped forward and told the Japanese guards
that the soldier was under his command and that they must
execute him rather than the young soldier. The guards
inexplicably turned away and both the soldier and Major
Clark survived that encounter.
-He was a POW in the Philippines for 29 months.
-As allied troops under General MacArthur began closing
in on the Philippines in 1944, to re-take and liberate
the Islands, the Japanese began to move POW's out of the
Philippines to Japan.
-In October 1944, Max was placed on a Japanese prison
ship, known as a "Hellship," with 1800 other
POWs. The ship was not marked as a Red Cross prisoner
of war ship when it left Manila and headed for Japan.
He lost his life when it was torpedoed by an American
submarine, on October 24, 1944, thinking it was a regular
Japanese freighter. Only 5 POWs survived the sinking.
Max was 47 years old when he was killed. After his death,
he was promoted to the rank of Lt. Colonel.
-Max Clark's body was never recovered but he is memorialized
here in Galveston at the Temple B'nai Israel and its Cemetery,
as well as the American Cemetery and Memorial outside
of Manila in the Philippines. At the cemetery in Manila,
Max Clark's name is inscribed on the Tablets of the Missing.
His name joins those of 36,000 other American servicemen.
Also at that Cemetery are the graves of 17,000 other Americans
lost in the battle for the Philippines, New Guinea, China,
Burma and India during WW II.
-Max Clark is, of course, still loved and remembered
by his family. We are so proud to have his son Sam Clark
here (Sam was 12 years old when his Dad was captured),
also present are Sam's wife Turtle, Sam's son, Max Clark
(his grandfather's namesake), Max's daughter Samantha,
Sam's daughter Lesley Hill and her two daughters Emily
and Heather, Irving Clark's daughter Frannie Rochkind
and her husband, Barry Rochkind and their son Joshua.
Would they all please stand.
- Max Clark's brother in law Max Glazer established the
Max Clark Endowment as a perpetual tribute to Colonel
Clark in 1945. The Endowment, through the years, has awarded
scholarship money to worthy students in Galveston through
Southern Methodist University. A recent Ball High School
graduate who was awarded the scholarship was the smart
and beautiful Miss Molly Murphy. She is with us today
along with her mom and dad. Would they please stand and
-When one looks at Max Clark's life, one can't help but
come away with the overwhelming feeling that he was truly
an extraordinary man and what a wonderful force for good
he would have been had he returned to his beloved Galveston
after WW II. His life was tragically cut short like countless
others, on the Altar of History, for the cause of freedom.
His sacrifice has insured freedom to generations of Americans
who have been born since his death, 62 years ago.
-I will close my remarks today with the beautiful words
that have been inscribed on the magnificent 10' tall granite
memorial to Max Clark located at the Temple B'nai Israel
cemetery on 61st St. You have a copy of the inscription
at your tables:
THAT PREJUDICE MIGHT DIE, THAT TYRANNY MIGHT LAY FOREVER
SLAIN. THAT MEN MIGHT LIVE IN PEACE.
LT. COL. MAX CLARK
BORN: NEW BRITAIN, CONN
JULY 9, 1897
DIED OCT 24, 1944
HIS WOUNDS IN 1918 CRIMSONED THE SOIL OF FRANCE.
AT MANILLA HE STOOD IN 1942 AND BLED. CORREGIDOR'S ROCK
IS REDDENED, TOO, WITH THE BLOOD OF HIS DEFENDING, AND
HIS SPIRIT'S MORTAL TEMPLE RESTS IN SEAS THAT SEEM UNENDING.
HIS PATRIOT'S SOUL MARCHES ON IN THE PLUMED LEGIONS OF
THE HEROIC DEAD.
It is fitting that Rabbi Jimmy Kessler, of Max Clark's
beloved Temple; give the closing prayer for this program.
MAJOR MAX CLARK'S
NAVY CROSS CITATION
Major, U.S. Marine Corps (Reserve)
Navy Yard, Cavite, Philippine Islands
Date of Action: December 10 - 19, 1941
The Navy Cross is presented to Max Clark, Major, U.S.
Marine Corps (Reserve), for distinguished service in the
line of his profession during the enemy attacks on the
Navy Yard, Cavite, and the Naval Air Station at Sangley
Point, Philippine Islands, between December 10th and 19th,
1941. With singular calmness and efficiency in the face
of great personal danger, Major Clark organized and directed
rescue and salvage groups, and by his prompt and energetic
actions, and by working day and night, to the limit of
human endurance, he rendered services of inestimable value
during the hazardous task of salvaging vital war materials
and explosives from that stricken and burning area. On
Corregidor he did outstanding work in the defense of that
sector. By his coolness and courage under fire, and his
complete disregard for his own personal safety, he demonstrated
superior qualities of leadership and a devotion to duty
that was far above expectations. As a soldier and a leader,
he was an inspiration to both officers and men alike.
His courage, leadership and devotion to duty reflect the
highest credit upon Major Clark and the United States
SPOT AWARD, (August 12, 1942)
Born: at New Britain, Connecticut
Home Town: Galveston, Texas
COMMANDING OFFICER'S REMARKS ABOUT MAX CLARK
Colonel William Clement was the U.S. Marine commander
during much of the Japanese siege of the Philippines.
He described Max Clark in this way:
"Max Clark had been in 3 wars. During air raids Max
would never seek shelter for himself but invariably looked
around to see where his men were and then casually strolled
over to sit with a buck private in his foxhole or with
a machinegun crew in a pillbox. Often Max would look up
as bombs were being released and say 'By George, they're
dumping confetti on us.' Major Clark was a human dynamo
and absolutely fearless."