The Herald Banner, Greenville, TX

Top News

March 29, 2013

Remembering the ‘Babe in Armor’

Cliff Wherley passes away at the age of 85

GREENVILLE — Thankfully, today most American 15-year-olds only play at war on popular video games like Call of Duty.

When he was 15, Clifford Roy Wherley of Peoria, Ill., was flying combat missions in World War II.

Wherley lied about his age to Army recruiters and forged his parents’ signatures when he enlisted on April Fool’s Day of 1942 and, by the time the Army figured out how old he was, he had already flown 22 combat missions as a gunner aboard a B-26 Martin Maurader bomber in North Africa and the Mediterranean.

He was honorably discharged on Aug. 17, 1943 after the Army discovered his true age. Considered the youngest American to serve in World War II, Wherley was nicknamed the “Babe in Armor” and was featured in the Aug. 27, 1943, edition of Time Magazine.

According to a May 26, 1980, article in the Journal Star, Wherley was credited with shooting down a German Messerschmitt ME-109 fighter and 15 other probable hits. His record led to him being awarded an Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters.

After his honorable discharge, Wherley worked at a factory that made his favorite Martin Maurader and later for the Caterpillar Tractor Co. in East Peoria before enlisting in the Navy at the age of 17. He served as a turret gunner on a B-26 again, eventually reaching the rank of Seaman 1st Class. He saw action in the South Pacific toward the end of the war and served on seven bombing raids.

Wherley completed his tour with the Navy in 1946 and retired from military service at the age of 19.

He later worked at the Keystone Steel & Wire plant in Bartonville, according to the Journal Star, on a dairy farm in Minnesota, and briefly as a Peoria County sheriff’s deputy.

In 1964 he moved his family to his wife’s farm near Athens, Texas. He worked as a justice of the peace before retiring to farm life. During the Iranian Hostage Crisis, he reportedly planned to volunteer for military service again, if the U.S. decided to free the hostages by force.

Wherley moved to Greenville about 20 years ago after living in Garland and Carrollton. He passed away on Feb. 8, 2013 at the age of 85 of complications from bladder cancer in Wolfe City.

A memorial service was held at the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery with military honors.

 

1
Text Only
Top News
House Ads
Featured Ads
Poll

Does Dallas head coach Jason Garrett need for the Cowboys to make the playoffs during the 2014 football season to keep his job?

Yes
No
Who knows with Jerry Jones as owner?
     View Results
Facebook
AP Video
The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Real Estate News