Gerald Cleckner - Ensign
Gerald was born on August 7, 1921 and raised by his parents, Harry Alfred Cleckner and Mildred Lela Blue, in Webster City. He graduated from Webster City High School in 1939 and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from Iowa State College in June, 1943. Gerald was a member of Pi Kappa Alpha, and was a member of the the Methodist Church and the Free Masons in Webster City.
After college, Gerald worked as an engineer for Thompson Product Company until he resigned on June 2, 1944 to join the Navy at Fort Schuyler, Bronx, New York on June 18, 1944. He graduated Indoctrination Training on August 23, 1944 and left San Francisco on September 7, 1944 for the South Pacific. He worked as a communications officer aboard the USS Arided, which had seen service in the final battles of the Peleliu Islands.
On January 9, 1945, Ensign Gerald A. Cleckner and three other officers received permission to leave the USS Arided in a motorboat to go on a fishing party on Fatato Island in the South Pacific. When they were 100 yards off shore, they decided to swim for it. Soon the other officers noticed that Cleckner was having trouble in the water. They tried to reach him but he soon sank and drowned. He was interred in a military cemetery on the north end of the island. His body was later buried in Hawai'i on October 10, 1947.
Jack J. Hughes, Commander of the USS Arided, wrote in a letter to Gerald's parents, dated January 11, 1945,
"During the three and a half months that Gerald was with us he proved himself an extremely capable and valuable naval officer, deeply respected and sincerely liked by all on board."