At the Ronceverte City Council meeting Monday night, Mayor David Smith said the council received a letter honoring the memory of Lt. Col. Thomas Edgar “Jock” Clifford with a donation from Paul Thomas Pyle, whose father, Russell V. Pyle, had served under Col. Clifford in World War II.
Smith offered a few details of Jock Clifford’s life, stating that the Ronceverte native was considered a living legend among his peers during the war.
In 1939, Clifford was stationed overseas and was at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked, bringing the United States into WWII. He became a battalion commander in New Guinea, directing a successful campaign that resulted in him being awarded the Silver Star. He then served with distinction in the Leyte campaign in the Philippines, where he won the Distinguished Service Cross. His resolve in retaining Kilray Ridge during the Battle of the Ormoc Corridor resulted in his promotion to colonel. One of his second lieutenants described him as the “best damn regimental commander in the U.S. Army.”
As recorded in the archives at the National World War II Museum, during the fight for the Ormoc Corridor in November 1944, “Jock’s battalion was given a flanking mission to cut off the lead Japanese elements from their rear echelon. With only the ammunition and food they could carry on their backs, Jock’s battalion ascended a ridge 900 feet in elevation, behind Japanese lines. As his men dug in on Kilay Ridge, Jock was ordered to hold the ridge at all costs. For three weeks, in nearly torrential rain, his men repulsed daily Japanese onslaughts. He and his men also liberated the town of Davao, and the people of the town considered him their hero. On June 25, 1945, Jock was killed by Japanese mortar fire. The news sent ripples of shock and disbelief throughout the ranks as the men of the division learned that the indestructible Colonel, ‘Hell-Roaring Jock’ Clifford was gone.”
Jock Clifford earned two Distinguished Service Crosses, a Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Silver Star and a Purple Heart. His reburial took place on Mar. 2, 1949, at Riverview Cemetery in Ronceverte. Clifford was further honored in 1960 when Ronceverte’s National Guard Armory was renamed for him. Inside a trophy case was placed a bronze bust of the local hero. The building is now called the Clifford Community and Recreation Center.
In other business:
- Region 4 representative Amanda Smar stated the city of Ronceverte is recommended for a $2 million funding grant for the improvement of the city. Smar said the main reason the city qualified, is that the grant is meant for low to moderate income areas to facilitate municipal infrastructure upgrades and improvements with no special limits for the use of the funds. If awarded, the funds will be used to finance the drinking water project the city has undertaken to replace the aging water pipe system extant throughout the town.
Bob Hazelwood, representing the E.L Robinson engineering firm, reported on the progress of the first phase of the financing for the project, including design and other “soft”costs needed to be processed before the project gets under way.
- The second reading of the abandonment of property ordinance was heard following a public hearing for a Clay Street residence where the owners hope to sell the property. No objections were heard, the ordinance was approved and the property was deeded to the owners.
- A proclamation in support of elder abuse awareness was read by the mayor declaring that elder citizens deserve respect and dignity, that abuse is a tragedy and elder care is an important value for all members of society to recognize. A wreath was presented to the Ronceverte City Hall by Mary Fisk Thompson, treasurer of the United Way of Greenbrier Valley. She also serves on other nonprofit organizations in the community.
- City Administrator Reba Mohler reported the city of Ronceverte was awarded Most Improved in the greater than 400,000 gallon a day category at a WVDEP conference in Charleston on May 24. Mohler attended the event with Mayor Smith and John Humphries, manager of the waste water treatment center, along with Dunn Engineering consultants. Ronceverte was recognized for the city’s efforts to upgrade the waste water sewage plant. “Since the new system has been in operation, Ronceverte has been in full compliance with all permit requirements and in WV state law,” reads a statement from the DEP.
- The city council urge the public to come attend the Ronceverte River Festival this weekend June 7-10, Thursday to Sunday, where there will be live music, street dancing, carnival rides, entertainment, food, vendors and the annual Rubber Ducky Race at Island Park, ending with a spectacular fireworks display on Sunday night. Don’t miss the festival parade, which this year will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday evening.