My dear Mr. Orville Devon Clark:
I know of no words that will make the grief caused by the loss of your son Robert Owen Clark any easier to bear. Permit me, however, to extend my deepest and heartfelt sympathy in your hour of sorrow. We of Airborne Early Warning Squadron FOURTEEN join you in mourning the loss of this fine young man dedicated to the service of his Country.
The accident occurred on the 23rd of December when his airborne Early warning Super-Constellation lost power and had to ditch in a very rough sea. An extensive air-sea rescue operation was commenced immediately. Destroyers and Destroyer Escorts from Pearl Harbor, Coast Guard ships, and planes, including helicopters, from the Navy, Marines, and Air Force participated in a continuous around-the-clock search. Four persons survived, and the search was not terminated until all hope of possible additional survivors was exhausted.
The immediate purpose of the flight was training for the Airborne Early Warning Barrier Mission of his Squadron, and was of utmost importance in establishing an early warning network for the protection of our Country.
I know how pleased you will be to learn of Robert's heroism in saving the life of Lieutenant junior grade Thomas J. Kline. Your son reacted quickly and unselfishly when he delayed his own departure from the aircraft to move a piece of heavy equipment which had pinned one of Mr. Kline's legs. By this heroic action, Mr. Kline was able to escape from the plane and ultimately be rescued. This unselfish act will never be forgotten by the officers and men of this Squadron.
Robert was always conscientious in his work here, and had a fine reputation of being dependable. He studied hard for his advancement in rate and was always trying to improve himself. He was interested in furthering his education, and had taken the Navy ROTC examination. He also liked criminology and hoped to study this field in college. Robert was also very interested in sports and was always ready to take part in a game, if he didn't suggest it first.
I wish to extend on behalf of my self and the Squadron, our desire to be of help and service in every possible way. Don't hesitate to call upon us. I know you are proud of him as we are, and the way he faithfully served his Country.
With sincere regrets,
Wm. J. Scarpino
Captain, U.S. Navy