Clifford Edward LaRose

1927 - 2010

Air Force
Korean WarVietnam WarWWI

Their Story

Clifford Edward LaRose was born Dec. 29, 1927, in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, the oldest of nine children, to Edward and Ruth (Allen) LaRose. The family lived on a farm five miles from Gilman, Wisconsin. Two years after his birth, the stock market crashed, and the country was plunged into a depression that lasted through the 1930s. Tough times did not end there.  In February 1944, when just 16 years of age, Clifford’s seven-year-old sister Ardith and two-year-old brother Calvin, were burned to death in their farm home while their parents were in town on business.[1] Other family members were in the barn doing chores. They were unaware of the fire until it was too late to save the children. Clifford attempted to save his siblings and was burned on the shoulders in the process.[2] The house did burn to the ground.

The family members worked the farm, but Clifford wanted out. After his brother was injured in a tractor accident and hospitalized, and with his mother visiting at the hospital, Clifford took the opportunity to join the Army at the tail-end of WWII. He enlisted on January 2, 1946. He served as a medic and was stationed in Florida.

He came from a military family, with his father, Edward, having served as an Army Interpreter in France during WW1[3] and was a PFC with Company “C” 319th Field Signal Battalion.[4] French was spoken in the family home until Edward went to school. Clifford’s brother Russell served in the Army as a combat engineer.[5] Brother Bradley served in the Navy during the Korean War as Machinist’s Mate First Class.

Clifford Edward LaRose

Clifford was discharged from the Army but then enlisted in the Air Force in 1950. He was stationed at Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane, Washington. It was in Spokane where he met his future wife.  He was united in marriage to Eleanor Cochran on Feb. 3, 1951, in Spokane.[6] One month later, Clifford was sent to Burtonwood Air Force Base in England. There, Clifford repaired vehicles that were then sent back into service in the field. This was during the end of the occupation of Japan and during the Korean War. Eleanor joined him in England in the fall of 1951. In 1952, Russell, while en route to France, visited Clifford at Burtonwood Air Force Base in England; they had their photo taken together in their uniforms.

When North Korea invaded South Korea on June 25, 1950, the U.S. Air Force (USAF) was less than three years old. Prior to September 1947, the USAF was the U.S. Army Air Forces. Thus, the Korean War was its first conflict—a tough, grueling conflict—as an independent service.[7]

They returned to the States in 1953, with Clifford returning as a SSGT on a Seaboard and Western Airlines aircraft destined for New York on October 9, 1953.[8] After returning home, he left the Air Force. But one year later, he reenlisted and was immediately sent to Johnston Island Air Force Base in the Pacific.  Located southwest of the Hawaiian Islands, it was the smallest air force base in the world. His wife said Clifford was an electrician but didn’t know for sure what he did on Johnston Island. She was not allowed to go there so she “toughed it out” in Hawaii. For nearly 70 years, Johnston Atoll was under the control of the American military. During that time, it was used as a bird sanctuary, as a naval refueling depot, as an airbase, for nuclear and biological weapons testing, for space recovery, as a secret missile base, and as a chemical weapon and Agent Orange storage and disposal site. These activities left the area environmentally contaminated, and remediation and monitoring continue. It was in 1948 that the U.S Air Force assumed control of it for many of the years until the base closed in 2004.[9]

Clifford Edward Gravesite

Clifford and Eleanor had a daughter in 1959, Pamela, born in Lompoc, California, the home of Vandenberg Air Force Base. Another daughter, Patricia, was also born there a few years later. During the Clifford’s Air Force career, the family moved around with Clifford’s new assignments – to San Antonio, Texas; twice to Italy; and back to Texas. While he was stationed in Texas, he was sent to Vietnam in the early 60s and served at the Monkey Mountain Facility. The base was located on the peak of Sơn Trà Mountain, overlooking Danang Harbour and China Beach[10] where a new Air Control Radar Station atop the north peak of the mountain was being built.

Clifford left the service in 1971 after 22 years with the Air Force. He was a MSGT. He did a short stint as a police officer in Texas (and an even shorter stint as a rural route mail carrier in LeClaire, Iowa), before joining the IEBW Local 145 electricians’ union, from which he retired in 1992. Eleanor took over his rural route when he quit the job in LeClaire.

He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1990 and had diabetes. In August 2009, Clifford and Eleanor lost their oldest daughter, Pamela, also an air force veteran, after an extended illness.  Clifford died 14 months later in October 2010.

During the summer before he died, Eleanor filed a claim with the VA as it had been determined that Clifford was entitled to compensation for exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam. Agent Orange was a blend of tactical herbicides the U.S. military sprayed from 1962 to 1971 during the Vietnam War to remove the leaves of trees and other dense tropical foliage that provided enemy cover.[11] For the purposes of VA compensation benefits, Veterans who served anywhere in Vietnam between January 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975, are presumed to have been exposed to herbicides, as specified in the Agent Orange Act of 1991. The VA has recognized certain cancers and other health problems as presumptive diseases associated with exposure to Agent Orange or other herbicides during military service. Prostate cancer is one of those cancers, for which Clifford received payments from the VA.


[1] Children Perish When Fire Razes their farm Home, Chippewa Herald-Telegram (Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin) · 17 Feb 1944, Thu · Page 1 Downloaded on Apr 5, 2022

[2] As told to researcher in an interview of Clifford’s wife, Eleanor LaRose, on April 21, 2022

[3] The following information was given to Lynn Anderson by Pamela LaRose, granddaughter of Edward, on

[4] – U.S., Army Transport Service Arriving and Departing Passenger Lists, 1910-1939

[5] Reported by Russell LaRose in an interview with researcher April 21, 2022

[6] Washington, U.S., Marriage Records, 1854-2013

[7] The United States Air Force in the Korean War – Aero Corner

[8] Air Passenger Manifest

[9] Johnston Atoll Page Two – Secret Bases (

[10] Monkey Mountain Facility – Wikipedia

[11] 10 things every Veteran should know about Agent Orange – VAntage Point