April 22, 2016
Welch served as an Airborne Ranger in the 1st Infantry Division and Special Forces. He spent 31 years in the service and was inducted into the Ranger Hall of Fame. In addition to the Distinguished Service Cross, Welch was awarded three Silver Stars with "V" device signaling valor in combat, two Purple Hearts and the Legion of Merit, among others.
Ret. Army Lt. Col. Clark Welch, a Vietnam War hero, died recently in Leesburg and will be buried later in Arlington National Cemetery.
(Courtesy of the Clark Welch family)
Maybe Clark Welch would still be alive today if the U.S. Army had been a little more gentle with that body of his.
The retired lieutenant colonel — probably Lake County's most highly decorated veteran — had shrapnel permanently jammed against his chest wall, which didn't help when it came to fighting a debilitating lung disease. He had no triceps muscle in one arm — it was blown off in combat. And over his 31-year career in the Army, he had broken more bones than his family could count, which took a lingering toll on his 76-year-old body.
Welch, an Airborne Ranger who loved his soldiers like a father, died April 12 in Leesburg.
The lieutenant colonel owned a piece of history in the Vietnam War that unfortunately was shrouded in lies by the U.S. government until a 2004 book by a Pulitzer Prize winner exposed the truth. For 25 years, the United States had portrayed the 1967 battle at Ong Thanh as a marvelous victory, when in truth it was a heartbreaking rout that left 60 men unnecessarily dead.
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