Clancy Lyall

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Clarence Odell "Clancy" Lyall
File:Clancy Lyall in Austria 1945.jpg
Clancy Lyall in unit photo taken in Kaprun, Austria 1945
Born(1925-10-14)October 14, 1925
Orange, Texas, U.S.
DiedMarch 19, 2012(2012-03-19) (aged 86)
Leonardtown, Maryland, U.S.
Place of burial
Evergreen Memorial Gardens, Great Mills, Maryland
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service1942–1959
RankArmy-USA-OR-08b-2015.svg Master Sergeant
UnitEasy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division
Battles/warsWorld War II
  • Operation Overlord
  • Operation Market Garden
  • Battle of the Bulge
  • Western Allied invasion of Germany

Korean War

  • Suk Chon Battle of Yongju
  • Munsan-ni
  • Bronze Star (2)
  • Purple Heart (3)
  • Army Good Conduct Medal
  • American Campaign Medal
RelationsIsabel Lyall (2nd wife from 1971 to 2012) Violet M Spence (1st wife from 1946 to 1971)

Clarence Odell “Clancy” Lyall (October 14, 1925 – March 19, 2012) served with Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, in the 101st Airborne Division of the United States Army during World War II. This unit would be popularized in the mini-series Band of Brothers based on the book by the same name.

Clancy later served in the 82nd Airborne Division in post-war Germany and in 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team.[1][dead link][2] He also served in Indochina.

Early years[edit]

Clancy Lyall was born in Orange, Texas.[3] His father, Arthur Edward Lyall, who worked on ships transporting oil from the United States to Scotland, was a Scot.[4] His mother, Beulah,[3] was a full-blooded Cherokee Indian from Oklahoma. His father met his mother on a trip to the US after wanting to see the native peoples in Oklahoma. They married and Beulah eventually moved to Orange Texas to set up a farm. Clancy was raised for a time with his maternal Grandfather on the reservation while the farm was being built. Once the farm was completed Clancy attended a one-room school and worked on his parents' 120 acre farm in Orange until they moved to Pennsylvania in 1939.[4] In the summers he would also cross the Sabine river to work in Louisiana, earning some money by picking Spanish moss for use as mattress batting. The skills he learned from the Cajuns in how to survive in the swamps would prove useful in his later military career as did the hunting and tracking skills taught to him by his Cherokee grandfather. Clancy also hunted cougar to bring in extra money for the family.

Military service[edit]

World War II[edit]

Clancy enlisted in the United States Army in November 1942[5] at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania. He received basic training at Camp Blanding. He then moved to Fort Benning for parachute training. Clancy shipped overseas to England later in 1943 where he was assigned as an instructor for A Stage of the Airborne School at Chilton-Foliat.[6][7] In March 1944 he was transferred to Headquarters Company of the 2d Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment (506th PIR) heavy weapons platoon.[8] The regiment, commanded by Colonel Robert Sink, formed part of the 101st Airborne Division under Major General Maxwell D. Taylor, and was then serving in Wiltshire in South West England, training and preparing for the invasion of Normandy, in which the division was to play a leading role.

He jumped into Normandy (see American airborne landings in Normandy) on June 6, 1944 as part of the airborne component of Operation Overlord. He landed near Sainte-Mère-Église, two to three miles from his intended drop zone, and fought with Company B of the 508th PIR, one of the regiments of the 82d Airborne Division, for the first few days before making his way back to the 506th. On June 13 he was bayoneted in the stomach[9] while fighting in Carentan, France, and was evacuated to England for recovery. In Shifty Powers' biography, while recounting this incident, Clancy is described as, "a goodhearted farm boy from Texas."[10]

In August he was officially transferred to Company E of the 2d Battalion, 506th PIR. A fellow soldier and author of his own World War II experiences, David Kenyon Webster also took note of Clancy and described him as, "very young, likable, and chatty."[11] Webster also recorded their Platoon Sergeant Floyd Talbert's view of Clancy as, "a bright and eager younger brother who....would turn into a great soldier."[11] Introduced with Clancy was Mike Massaconi, who Clancy would call his closest buddy during the war. In September 1944, Clancy jumped in the daring but doomed Operation Market Garden in the Netherlands. The operation failed and fighting in the country continued for Clancy until he was wounded in the leg in October.[12] He recovered from his wound and returned to his unit, now located at Mourmelon, France. Expecting a quiet Christmas, in December they were moved to the front in Belgium and fought in Bastogne, Belgium into January 1945. During the fighting there Clancy was wounded a third time. It happened on the day after Christmas − December 26, 1944. He was wounded in the head. It was bandaged up and he was further treated for his wound in a building. This would be the only time he saw the inside of a building during the entire Bastogne campaign.

Easy Company, 506th PIR Zell am See, Austria. June, 1945.

He took part in the fighting at Hagenau, in Alsace. In Germany they liberated a Nazi concentration camp at Landsberg[13][not in citation given] near Memmingen, Bavaria.[7][14] It was one of the most difficult moments of the war. Men wept at what they saw in the camps. He remained with "Easy Company" in Austria through the end of the war. He was among those who took Berchtesgaden and Hitler's Eagle's Nest in the closing days of World War II and was with the 506th in Zell am See. He reenlisted in 1945.[15] He was transferred to the 82nd Airborne Division in Frankfurt, Germany. He served there through 1948.

On January 12, 1946, he marched in the Victory Parade in New York City.[7] He married his first wife Violet that same year.[2] He was stationed in Germany while the Nuremberg Trials took place. During this time he found and took in a former German paratrooper and his wife. He shared his own living quarters with them. He also provided a stamp book he had found in Berchtesgaden, which listed names of those who joined the Nazi party, to the judges there.[16]

In 1949, he received Recondo training, which ultimately included six weeks of Commando training in the UK.[2][17]

Korean War[edit]

In 1950 Clancy was assigned to the 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team. During the Korean War, he made two combat jumps—one at Sukchon in October 1950, and one at Musan-ni in March 1951.[2][7] The primary purpose of the Sukchon jump was to intercept retreating North Korean forces and free American prisoners of war.


In March 1954, Clancy saw firsthand the unfolding of the siege of the French Foreign Legion in the Battle of Dien Bien Phu. He was assigned as an adviser and intelligence gatherer for the French forces positioned there.[18] He evaded the closing ring of Việt Minh besiegers, escaping a few weeks before the French fortifications fell in May of the same year.[1][19] Clancy escaped under the cover of darkness with a painfully slow belly crawl across the flood plain which took him down to the banks of the Nam Yum River. The several hundred yard crawl took a few hours to complete. The current of the river carried Lyall silently downstream to his freedom.

In the late 1950s, Clancy was reassigned back to the reactivated 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

Clancy retired from the service in 1959 after an injury from a training jump.[2] He had made four combat jumps in two wars.

Later years[edit]

After leaving the service, Clancy initially worked for a carpet firm.[14] He moved to Florida where he worked for Carvel Ice Cream as a marketing director.[2] He remarried in 1971. He eventually moved to Lexington Park, Maryland. Clancy had six children, nine grandchildren and one great grandchild.[3]

He continued to be very active in the service to his community and to fellow veterans. Among numerous positions he held, he was VFW Commander Post 2632, American Legion Vice Commander, Lions Club President, President of Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge, and member of Southern Maryland Veterans Advisory Board.[1][3]

In 2005, Clancy was recognized as Native American by a chief of the Cherokee Nation and given the name "Silver Eagle."[20]

In 2008, he traveled to Kuwait with several other fellow E/506 veterans in coordination with Valor Studios and the USO to show their appreciation for the US troops serving there.[21]

He died in the morning of March 19, 2012, at age 86 at St. Mary's Hospital in Leonardtown, Maryland.[3] He was buried at Evergreen Memorial Gardens in Great Mills, Maryland on March 24, 2012.[22]

A compilation of some interview sessions by Belgian journalist Ronald Ooms about Clancy's life were transcribed into book form and published after his death. The draft was approved by Lyall before his passing and his story was published by Pneuma Springs Publishing in the UK in 2013. In early March 2012 an unnamed US-based publishing company was interested in the story but negotiations ended abruptly shortly after Clancy's passing.

Forrest Guth, Clancy Lyall and Amos Taylor in Kuwait, 2008.

Medals and Decorations[edit]

File:Combat Infantry Badge.svg
File:Army Good Conduct ribbon.svg
File:American Campaign Medal ribbon.svg
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Badge Combat Infantryman Badge
1st row Bronze Star Medal w/ 1 OLC Purple Heart with 2 oak leaf clusters Army Good Conduct Medal
2nd row American Campaign Medal European–African–Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with 3 service stars and 1 arrow-device World War II Victory Medal
Unit Award Presidential Unit Citation w/ 1 oak leaf cluster


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Van de Wal, Peter. "Biographical webpages for Clancy Lyall". Retrieved 2012-04-28.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Brotherton, p.200.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 "Clancy Lyall Obituary". Retrieved 2012-04-28.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Brotherton, p.24.
  5. "Men of Easy Company: Who is who - Clancy Lyall". Archived from the original on 2010-11-05.
  6. Brotherton, p.66.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Williams, Filip. "Official Homepage of WWII E-Co and Korean War Veteran Clancy Lyall". Retrieved 2012-04-28.
  8. Brotherton, p.106.
  9. Brotherton, p.117-18.
  10. Brotherton, Shifty's War, p.92.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Webster, p.72.
  12. Brotherton, p.137.
  13. "Holocaust Encyclopedia:101st Airborne".
  14. 14.0 14.1 Leibe, p. A-12.
  15. WWII Army Enlistment Records: on-line NARA Archival Database
  16. Brotherton, p.195-6.
  17. Williams, Filip. "Official Homepage of WWII E-Co and Korean War Veteran Clancy Lyall". Retrieved 2012-04-28.
  18. Ambrose, p.299-300.
  19. Leonard, Guy (2012-03-22). "Local War Hero Clancy Lyall Dies". The County Times. Retrieved 2012-04-29.
  20. "Cherokee Nation recognition of Clancy Lyall,2005". Archived from the original on 2013-02-03.
  21. "Valor Studios, Inc". Retrieved 2012-04-28.
  22. "Find A Grave:Clancy Lyall".

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Works Cited[edit]

External links[edit]

Additional works[edit]

  • Alexander, Larry (2010). In The Footsteps of the Band of Brothers: A Return to Easy Company's Battlefields with Sergeant Forrest Guth. New American Library, A Penguin Group (NAL Calibre). ISBN 9780451229915. Search this book on Logo.png
  • Flanagan Jr., USA (Ret., LT. Gen. E.M. (1997). The Rakkasans: The Combat History of the 187th Airborne Infantry. Presidio. ISBN 0891416048. Search this book on Logo.png
  • Ooms, Ronald (2013). Silver Eagle: the official biography of "Band of Brothers" veteran Clancy Lyall. Pneuma Springs Publishing. ISBN 1782282645. Search this book on Logo.png

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