D-Day survivor Clarence Nation dies at 88
BY TIM STANLEY World Staff Writer
Friday, December 21, 2012
12/21/12 at 5:43 AM
"Get 'em, Nation!"
Issued with a bark by Clarence Nation's sergeant, the command easily drowned out the sound of the fleeing enemy vehicle.
Still, although it was now out of sight around a bend, Nation responded instantly. He hoisted his grenade-launch rifle to his shoulder and took aim.
"How far?" he asked.
At the sergeant's guess of 60 yards, he angled the gun to about 45 degrees, for distance and to clear the trees. Then he pulled the trigger.
The explosion followed about four seconds later.
"You got 'em, Nation!" yelled his sergeant, who was peering ahead from the road outside of the two-story farm house.
The raid to take the house, which was being used as a German command post, was officially over.
Before they sped off, though, the fleeing German soldiers whom Nation had just blown up had exacted a heavy toll. Two of Nation's companions had been killed, one with a bullet to the forehead.
For the successful raid, the six surviving soldiers received Bronze Stars.
But Nation wrote later that, except for losing two buddies, it seemed like just another day.
There were many more like it before he came home.
Clarence Madden Nation, a longtime Tulsa resident and decorated World War II veteran who participated in the D-Day invasion, died Wednesday. He was 88.
A service is set for 3 p.m. Saturday at Floral Haven Funeral Home chapel in Broken Arrow.
For years, Nation didn't tell any stories about the war, his son Larry Nation said.
"But then the movie 'Saving Private Ryan' came out, and it seemed like that kind of made it OK to talk about it," he said. "He started opening up, and I said, 'Dad, you've got to write some of this down.' "
Nation agreed. The chronicle he compiled of his experiences is now prized by the family.
On June 6, 1944, D-Day, Nation participated in the Allied invasion of Normandy, France, landing with the 4th Infantry Division at Utah Beach.
Moving in on foot through chest-deep water, the air filled with fog, diesel smoke and mortar fire, Nation was reminded of the stakes almost immediately. At the edge of the water, he tripped over a dead G.I.
Nation, who pulled the body from the water before continuing on, saw many others fall that day, but he made it through.
Nation was wounded in action later, hit by shrapnel. Although he carried it for the rest of his life, imbedded under his shoulder blade, he returned to his unit.
A native of Haileyville, Nation was the youngest of six children. When he was 5, his father, a police chief, was killed in the line of duty.
Raised by their mother, Nation and his siblings survived the Great Depression, living in California for a time before returning to Oklahoma.
Nation began a family of his own after the war with his wife, Mary Nation, whom he met in Seminole. In 1962, they settled in Tulsa.
Nation, who worked in sales, loved to sing gospel music and for years sang in church choirs, quartets and at revivals, where his wife was often beside him playing the piano.
The feeling that God was with him first came over Nation, a deacon at First Baptist Church, at Utah Beach and stayed with him through the war.
"I knew in my heart that God was protecting me," he wrote later.
Nation's survivors include his three sons, Larry Nation, Garry Nation and Noel Nation; 10 grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.
Original Print Headline: Veteran learned to talk about war
Tim Stanley 918-581-8385
Clarence Nation of Tulsa, a decorated World War II veteran who survived the D-Day invasion, gives a school classroom presentation on his war service. Nation, 88, died Wednesday. Courtesy