Clarence B. Sprouse
First member of the 100 Parachute Jump Century Club
Clarence B. Sprouse (April 13, 1925 - August 14, 2018)
“He told me I was the bravest guy that he's ever seen, and, really, I wasn’t,” Sprouse once said about Gen. William DuPuy, who had dubbed him the "Perfect Soldier." DuPuy was known for his role in restructuring the Army after Vietnam.
A paratrooper who was the first soldier in the 11th Airborne Division to make 100 static line jumps and held more than 80 decorations when he retired here in 1968, Sprouse received two Silver Stars, five Bronze Stars for valor, 18 Air Medals for assault landings, and three Combat Infantryman badges.
Clarence B. Sprouse, entered the Army in 1942 at the age of 17. Served in WWII and Korea as a parachute infantryman. During WWII, served as a rifle squad leader and platoon sergeant in the Pacific with Company G. 188th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 11th Airborne Division, earning three Battle Stars and on Bronze Arrowhead. Had a three year, eight month break in service. Re-entered the Army in August 1949. During the Korean Conflict, 1950-51, made two combat jumps, earned four Battle Stars and a direct field commission while a member of Company F. 187th Airborne ACT.
In 1952 while a first sergeant in the 188th Airborne Infantry Regiment was selected by Maj. Gen. Wayne C. Smith to be the 11th Airborne Division model non-commissioned officer and the first (original) member of the 100 Parachute Jump Century Club and given Gold Wings by General Smith. Also attended every service school on post to include some of the officer’s courses. Was honor graduate of the 11th Airborne Division. NCO Academy.
November 1955 was appointed sergeant major of the 188th Airborne Infantry Regiment Gyro-scoped to Germany with the 188th and was appointed sergeant major of the 1st Airborne Battle Gp. when the 187th under the pentomic concept. While the sergeant major of the 187th, attended the 7th US Army NCO Academy where he achieved the highest possible honors in the history of the 7th Army NCO Academy both in academics and leadership. The score set can never be surpassed, only equaled. .
Went to Lebanon with the 187th Airborne Battle Gp. as sergeant major during the Lebanese Crisis. After Lebanon, gyro-scoped back to Ft. Bragg, NC with the 187th and in 1959 was selected the 82nd Airborne Division Trooper of the Year.
In 1960 was selected as sergeant major of the 82nd Airborne Division. Was on the Board of Governors for the NCO Club, Board of Directors for the Post Exchanges, a member of the School Board on Post at Ft. Bragg, elected to the Loan Committee of the Credit Union and was on the Board of Directors of the Airborne Association for one four-year term. Departed from there for a classified mission assignment with the Central Intelligence Agency. Was chief trainer that trained the Cubans for the Bay of Pigs and was operations officer for the invasion. After completing the mission, spent a tour as senior instructor at Culver Military Academy, Culver, Indiana.
Played four years of football in the Army, playing both fullback and blocking back for the 188th and 187th Airborne Regiments. In Germany, fired on the 11th Airborne Division Skeet Team. While at Culver, besides being the senior military science instructor coached football, varsity rifle (winning the Indiana State Rifle Championship three years) and was in charge of the Culver Honor Guard. During off duty hours took Red Cross Advanced Aid and successfully completed the Red Cross First Aid Instructor’s Course and later taught first aid. Was on the Marshall County Red Cross Forum at Culver, Indiana. Taught NRA Rifle Marksmanship for four years and was a National Rifle Association instructor. Fired the rifle and pistol on the Cadre Team winning the Corps Match two years in rifle and one year in pistol. Was high shooter on the rifle team and second high on the pistol team.
Was selected from the field to be sergeant major of the newly created position of sergeant major of the Enlisted Personnel Directorate, at the time the highest enlisted position in the Army. A master jumper with two combat jumps, a triple Combat Infantry Badge recipient. He was the most decorated individual at Ft. Sam Houston and the 5th Army when retired with more than 80 decorations.
- 11th Airborne, Turner Publishing Company, ed. Randy W. Baumgardner
- The “Perfect Soldier” San Antonio Express-News, Sig Christianson Jan 14, 2012
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