In Memory

Bryan Leland Clark (Tuscola Tigers) - Class Of 1943

Bryan Leland Clark

February 14, 1926 - January 6, 2012

Bryan Leland Clark was born February 14, 1926, and died January 6, 2012. Bryan was a proud Texan and a graduate of Texas Tech University. He served in the United States Marine Corps 1944-1946 and was present when the iconic flag was raised over Iwo Jima. He worked for many years at the National Automobile Theft Bureau (NATB) and was appointed a Special Texas Ranger. Bryan was an active volunteer for many years at Methodist Hospital of Dallas, serving as President of the Auxiliary. He is survived by his beloved wife Reba, his cousin Sharon Nelson and her husband Michael, and special friends Lynda and James Cagle. He was a loving uncle to Tom and Julie Clark. Donations in memory of Bryan may be made to Oak Lawn United Methodist Church, Dallas, where he was a faithful member for many years. A service celebrating Bryan's life will take place at Oak Lawn United Methodist Church Saturday, January 14 at 10:00 a.m
He and his family lived between Tuscola and Buffalo Gap. He graduated from Tuscola High School in 1943. He was very active in basketball in high school.  His parents were Mr. and Mrs. Grady Clark of Tuscola where all attended Tuscola Methodist Church. A brother and sister as well as his parents preceeded him in death.
Bryan Leland Clark, who helped Marines take Mount Suribachi at Iwo Jima, dies at 85
Bryan Clark

Five days after his 19th birthday, Bryan Leland Clark stormed the beach at Iwo Jima as a Marine in 1945. He later answered many requests to share his World War II experiences to help preserve the history he had lived and remember the comrades he had lost.

He had survived some of the war’s deadliest battles and witnessed the moment when five Marines raised the U.S. flag on Mount Suribachi, the highest point on Iwo Jima.

Mr. Clark, 85, died Jan. 6 of congestive heart failure at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas.

A celebration of his life will be at 10 a.m. Saturday at Oak Lawn United Methodist Church. He was buried in Hillcrest Memorial Park in Dallas.

Mr. Clark was with the 28th Regiment, 5th Marine Division at Iwo Jima. Nearly 7,000 Americans and an estimated 20,000 Japanese soldiers died at Iwo Jima. Of the 165 Marines in his unit, 80 were killed. Mr. Clark was one of three men who returned uninjured.

In 2005, Mr. Clark told the History channel of the toll the seemingly endless battle amid the harsh conditions on volcanic island combined to take so many lives.

“I am thoroughly convinced that maybe a fourth of the people who were killed or injured had become so fatigued that they really didn’t care what happened to them,” he said. “All that they wanted to do was to sit down and for it to be over.”

Mr. Clark’s ability to sleep may have helped him survive.

In 2005, he told The Dallas Morning News of one night he spent under a howitzer on Iwo Jima as the big gun fired away.

“Believe it or not, I slept like a baby,” he said.

Although he was able to talk about Iwo Jima, his World War II experience left lasting scars, said Lynda Cagle of Ovilla, a friend of 14 years.

“I worked and worked to get him VA benefits for him after he became so ill,” Mrs. Cagle said. “He cried over that so many times, saying there were so many more at Iwo Jima who deserved it more than he. He grieved for all the people that were killed.”

After the war, Mr. Clark was known to many across Texas for his 36 years of travel representing the National Auto Theft Bureau. He also greeted people at Oak Lawn United Methodist Church in Dallas, where he was a member for more than 30 years.

The Brinson-Clark Class at the church is named in honor of Mr. Clark and his longtime co-greeter, Truitt Brinson.

“He loved that church more than he did life,” Mrs. Cagle said.

Mr. Clark was born in Silver Valley, Texas, and grew up in Tuscola, Texas, where he graduated from high school.

He joined the Marines in 1944 and was a sergeant when he was honorably discharged in 1946.

Mr. Clark received his bachelor’s degree from what is now Texas Tech University. He taught history in West Texas and played semi-pro baseball before he joined the auto theft bureau in the mid-1950s. He was made a Special Texas Ranger in 1969 for his life’s work. The National Automobile Theft Bureau merged with the Insurance Crime Prevention Institute in 1992.

Shortly before he died, Mr. Clark told Mrs. Cagle that he never understood why his fellow Marines were taken and he was spared.

“I told him I thought he was spared because he had done so much good for so many people — and he has,” Mrs. Cagle said.

Mr. Clark is survived by his wife, Reba Clark of Dallas.

Memorials may be made to Oak Lawn United Methodist Church.