CLARENCE E. HEFFENDRAGER
Sergeant | Corps of Engineers
It was the custom in the Heffendrager family to become involved in carpentry at a young age. Clarence dropped out of school at the age of fourteen to pursue the career, which was interrupted in late summer 1951 when he was drafted into the service. Naturally, he was assigned to the Corps of Engineers.
In the first days of Spring 1952, Clarence began his duties in Korea as a combat construction specialist with A Company, 13th Engineers. For the most part, the work kept his mind away from the imminent danger lurking along the front. He was already prone to anxiety and constant stress really wore at his nerves. Most of his days were spent building or repairing bunkers, a necessary task that he knew gave comfort to the troops taking shelter being the sturdy log structures. He was proud knowing his work provided safety for so many.
At twenty-two, Clarence had eight years of carpentry experience and his squad and company leaders quickly came to value his skills. Being rather dependent on their acknowledgement and gratification of his work, their attention helped him cope with the gritty and tiring life on the line. In speaking with doctors after the war, they were surprised that he performed so well considering his history of anxiety. He did have a habit of developing ailments or injuries without noticeable organic cause and service in Korea did nothing to change this part of his personality.
In mid September 1952, Clarence was sure he fractured his left arm and was having trouble tolerating the pain. He broke the same wrist in 1941 and now he felt the arm was broken just the same. He was evacuated to a MASH unit where the medical staff determined that his discomfort was the result of a dislocation. Regardless, the few days away from the front gave Clarence some time to relax a few miles from the front.
A year and two months later, Sergeant Heffendrager returned home to Pennsylvania, proudly wearing the coveted 7th Division "Order of the Bayonet" award and planning to marry a women seven years his senior and start a life of his own.