50th Veteran of the Quarter – Clarence E. Sowards, US Marines.

March 30, 2023

On November 6, 1945, as the 2nd oldest of five boys and at the age of 17, Clarence E. Sowards, enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. Sowards attended basic training at Parris Island, South Carolina before being sent to Camp LeJeune, North Carolina for Weapons Training. His first assignment took him to China where he served a year holding off thieves without any ammunition just south of the Forbidden City Peking. Later, he traveled to Guam and served another year. He was then sent to Quantico where he became a High Expert Rifle Marksmanship Instructor.

In 1949 after 4 years, he returned home while in the Reserves to Springfield and opened a restaurant with his wife, Phyllis, and adopted children, Richard Allen and Gaila. In 1953, he reenlisted on the tail end of the Korean War. It was at this time, that Sowards’ role in the Marine Corps changed to the culinary arts and overseeing mess halls. He completed many culinary training courses including baking, nutrition, mess management, and human relations. In 1962, he traveled to Okinawa and then was stationed on a ship in the Caribbean, an LPH Boxer, that circled Cuba as a missile blockade for 2 weeks. By 1968, during the Vietnam War, he was part of a team that took a fleet of bulldozers to the 49th parallel to help engineer a camp that was on top of a rice patty. It was there that he helped design his first mess hall that served 200-300 soldiers stationed in that outfit. By the end of his service, Sowards had risen to the rank of E-9 as a Food Service Technician, comparable to a Sous Chef. He received awards after designing and reorganizing mess halls along the way, including one in Barstow and another in San Diego which saw the likes of 5400 soldiers on 6 chow lines, serving them 3 times a day, up to 17 people a minute.

Additionally, Sowards was an athlete. He was a baseball pitcher and was asked to manage several baseball teams throughout his years of service. He also played billiards, and ping pong and was an avid left-handed golfer.

His service earned him many awards and commendations, including the Good Conduct Medal w/7 stars, the Vietnam Service Medal w/3 stars, the Vietnam Combat Medal, the National Defense Service Medal w/1 star, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, the China Service Medal, the WWII Victory Medal, and Presidential Unit Citation, to name a few.

On June 10, 1977, Clarence Sowards was honorably discharged from the USMC with over 31 years of service. He and his wife, Phyliss, moved to Indian Point from Springfield and traveled all over the United States in their motorhome playing golf along the way. Mr. Sowards now resides in Point Royale where you can find him golfing every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, weather permitting.


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