Carl Walter Clader, Jr. was born in 1916 in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. He received his B.S. from Northwestern University and began teaching science at New Trier High School in 1939.
As America became more involved in the war, Clader, who had always been interested in flying, enlisted in the Army Air Force. He completed his flight training at Maxwell Field, Alabama, and became a co-pilot of a B-24 bomber. Clader received advanced training with his crew of 10 men at Wendover Field, Utah. Clader was assigned to the 489th Bomb Group, 8th Air Force, to be stationed in Halesworth, England. His group travelled to Europe via the southern ferry route, from the US to South America, across the Atlantic to Dakar, then to Marrakesh, and finally to England.
In May 1944, almost immediately upon their arrival, Clader and the 489th Bomb Group helped prepare for the Normandy invasion by bombing targets in northern France. His group provided air support for the landings on June 6, and continued to bomb coastal defenses and airfields throughout France as the ground troops advanced. In July 1944, the 489th began flying missions into Germany.
Overall, the 489th Bomb Group completed 106 missions and lost 26 aircraft in combat. During one of their bombing missions, Clader’s group encountered heavy anti-aircraft fire over enemy territory. A piece of shrapnel ripped through the fuselage of Clader’s plane and lodged in the bottom of the co-pilot’s seat where Clader was sitting! Luckily, Clader was not injured and he and his crew made it back safely.
Clader returned to the US in November 1944 to receive training in B-29 bombers and to prepare for redeployment in the Pacific. The 489th was alerted for movement in the summer of 1945, but the war ended before the group left the US. After the war, Clader came back to Winnetka to teach at New Trier.