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Nimitz Library

Joseph Clinton Clifton Papers, 1926-1971: Finding Aid

Published electronically in December 2013

Summary Information

  • Publisher: United States Naval Academy. Special Collections & Archives.
  • Publisher Address:
    589 McNair Road
    Annapolis, Maryland 21402-5029, USA
    Phone: 410-293-6917
  • Call number: MS 204
  • Location: Special Collections & Archives Department - Manuscripts
  • Title: Joseph Clinton Clifton Papers
  • Dates: 1926-1971
  • Size: 0.83 linear feet
  • Container Summary: 2 manuscript boxes, 1 oversize folder
  • Creator: Clifton, Joseph Clinton, 1908-1967
  • Language(s) of material: English
  • Abstract: Joseph Clinton Clifton was an officer and aviator in the United States Navy and a member of the United States Naval Academy Class of 1930. The Clifton Papers focus primarily on Clifton's post-World War II duties with the Airborne Early Warning Wing, Naval Air Advanced Training, Naval Air Technical Training, as well as his World War II duties in the Marshall Islands Campaign and duties aboard U.S.S. Wasp.

Biography of Joseph Clinton Clifton

Rear Admiral Joseph Clinton Clifton was born in Paducah, Kentucky in 1908, and was admitted to the United States Naval Academy on June 16, 1926. While at the Academy, Clifton was an All-Eastern and honorable mention All-American fullback for the varsity football team. After graduating in 1930, Clifton first served aboard U.S.S. Tennessee (Battleship : BB-43) before being transferred to Pensacola for flight training, receiving his designation as a naval aviator in 1932.

At the outset of World War II, Clifton was serving as a flight training officer at Naval Air Station, Miami. Following the outbreak of hostilities, he received command of Fighter Squadron 12 aboard U.S.S. Saratoga (Aircraft carrier : CV-3) and participated in the first raid on Rabaul. In July 1944, Clifton returned to U.S.S. Saratoga as Commander, Air Group 12, which included Air Groups from U.S.S. Saratoga and H.M.S. Illustrious. For his service during the war, Clifton was twice awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Legion of Merit, as well as the Distinguished Service Order by Great Britain.

After World War II, Clifton's commands included U.S.S. Wasp (Aircraft carrier : CV-18), Transport Squadron 8, U.S.S. Corson (Seaplane tender : AVP-37) during the Korean War, and Naval Air Station, Memphis. Other assignments included tours as Deputy Chief of Staff for Training, staff of Commander, Air Force, Pacific Fleet, and instructor at the Naval War College.

In December 1956, Clifton received command of the Airborne Early Warning Wing, Atlantic while concurrently serving as Commander, Fleet Air Detachment, Argentia and Commander, Barrier Force, Atlantic Fleet. In 1958, he was appointed Chief of Naval Air Advanced Training at Naval Air Station, Corpus Christi, where he served until 1960, when he received command of Carrier Division 7. In May 1961, Clifton was named Chief of naval Air Technical Training at Naval Air Station, Memphis.

Rear Admiral Joseph Clinton Clifton voluntarily retired from the United States Navy on July 1, 1963. He died four years later on December 24, 1967 in Santa Monica, California.

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Description of Contents

The Joseph Clinton Clifton Papers, comprising 0.83 feet of documentation, span the entirety of Clifton's career in the U.S. Navy, from his time as a midshipman at the Naval Academy until his retirement in 1963. The papers, focus primarily on Clifton's post-World War II duties with the Airborne Early Warning Wing, Naval Air Advanced Training, Naval Air Technical Training, as well as his World War II duties in the Marshall Islands Campaign and duties aboard U.S.S. Wasp.

Nearly half of the collection is composed of Clifton's official and temporary additional duty orders, as well as fitness reports for officers under his command. The remainder of the collection consists of publications, correspondence, and certificates. Due to the presence of personally identifiable information, the use of the fitness reports for officers other than Clifton are restricted for a period of 60 years after the officers' separation from service.

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The Joseph Clinton Clifton Papers are organized into the following seven categories:

  • Official Papers
  • Certificates
  • Correspondence
  • Newspaper Clippings
  • Photographs
  • Programs and Invitations
  • Publications
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Access and Use


Access to officers' fitness reports is restricted where noted.

Copyright and Permission

The Joseph Clinton Clifton Papers are the physical property of Nimitz Library. Copyright belongs to the authors or creators of the works, or their legal representatives. For further information, consult the Head, Special Collections & Archives.

It is the responsibility of the researcher to secure written permission to publish, reprint, or reproduce material from Special Collections & Archives. The researcher assumes responsibility for infringement of copyright or literary or publication rights. Please contact the Head, Special Collections & Archives for permission to publish and for further information.

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Acquisition and Appraisal

Provenance and Acquisition

Gift of Mrs. Joseph C. Clifton in October 1976. Accession No. 76-015.

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Related Materials

Related Archival Material

Material pertaining to Clifton's time as a midshipman at the Naval Academy may be found in his Personnel Jacket and Alumni Jacket in Special Collections & Archives, Nimitz Library.

Materials Cataloged Separately

No materials have been removed from this collection.

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Processing and Other Information

Preferred Citation

Joseph Clinton Clifton Papers, MS 204

Special Collections & Archives Department

Nimitz Library

United States Naval Academy

Selected Bibliography

The following sources were consulted during preparation of the biographical note:

Obituary published in Shipmate. [Annapolis, Md.]: United States Naval Academy Alumni Association, March 1968.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Mary R. Catalfamo. Finding aid written by Mary R. Catalfamo and revised by David D'Onofrio in December 2013.

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Subject Headings

Name and Subject Terms

  • Clifton, Joseph Clinton, 1908-1967
  • Wasp (Aircraft carrier : CV-18)
  • World War, 1938-1945 -- Aerial Operations

Genre Terms

  • Certificates
  • Clippings (information artifacts)
  • Correspondence
  • Manuscripts
  • Orders (military records)
  • Photographs
  • Programs (documents)
  • Reports
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Contents List

Box 1 Folder 1

Official Papers - Fitness Reports: Airborne Early Warning Wing, Atlantic Officers, 1957-1958

Restricted due to the presence of personally identifiable information.

Box 1 Folder 2

Official Papers - Fitness Reports: Men Serving under Clifton, 1960 March 8-August 31

Restricted due to the presence of personally identifiable information.

Box 1 Folder 3

Official Papers - Notebook, 1944-1954

Cover reads "Rear Admiral J. C. Clifton Personal Correspondence." Includes recommendations for Clifton's awards during the Marshall Islands Campaign and security clearances.

Box 1 Folder 4

Official Papers - Original Orders, 1930-1957

Includes acceptances and endorsements.

Box 1 Folder 5

Official Papers - Personal File, 1944-1963

TAD orders, annual officer's fitness questionnaires, designation as a naval aviator, letters from the Navy Department on Clifton's appointment to rank of Rear Admiral.

Box 1 Folder 6

Official Papers - Temporary Additional Duty Orders, 1958-1963

Box 1 Folder 7

Official Papers - War Dispatches, 1944 March 30-1945 August 31

Messages sent to commanding officer, U.S.S. Wasp pertaining to the Pacific Campaign. Includes three telegrams on U.S.S. Wasp letterhead laid in.

Box 1 Folder 8

Certificates, 1926-1928, 1954

Includes Clifton's membership in Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity (February 28, 1926), N Award for Football at the Naval Academy (1927/1928), and Naval War College Course in Naval Warfare completion certificate (1954).

Drawer MSOS Folder 1

Certificates, 1929-1943

Includes Clifton's appointment as a Midshipman Ensign in the USNA Regiment of Midshipmen, USNA Diploma, crossing the line certificate, and U.S. Navy commissions as Ensign, Lieutenant (junior grade), Lieutenant, and Commander.

Box 2 Folder 1

Correspondence - Chief of Naval Operations, 1961

Includes a letter from Arleigh Burke thanking Clifton for his support and interest in the Don Griffin matter and a letter from George W. Anderson regarding BuPers action regarding Squadron tours and time spent in the fleet.

Box 2 Folder 2

Correspondence - Dedication Ceremony, Clifton Recreation Center, 1971 May 14

Letter from A.S. Heyward, Jr., Vice Admiral (Ret.) to Mrs. Clifton commenting on the Joseph C. Clifton Recreation Center at Chase Field.

Box 2 Folder 3

Correspondence - Martha D. Marshall Education Merit Award, 1963 April

Regrets for the banquet in honor of Clifton from Secretary of the Navy Fred Korth, Rear Admiral John S. McCain, Jr., Rear Admiral L.D. Coates, and Captain C.D. Simonsen.

Box 2 Folder 4

Correspondence - Retirement, 1963

Third endorsement to Clifton's request for voluntary retirement and a letter of appreciation from Chief of Naval Air Training Fitzhugh Lee.

Box 2 Folder 5

Newspaper Clipping, 1963 June 9

"Navy to Lose Ace When 'Joe' Goes," from the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

Box 2 Folder 6

Photographs, 1969, undated

Photograph of a Tiffany box containing Clifton's medals and three photographs of the Clifton Trophy for Outstanding Pilots, as well as a clipping about the trophy from The Link.

Box 2 Folder 7

Programs and Invitations - Change of Command and Retirement Ceremony, 1963 June 28

Clifton's retirement and relief as Chief of Naval Air Technical Training.

Box 2 Folder 8

Programs and Invitations - Dedication Ceremony, Clifton Recreation Center, 1971 May 6

Located at Naval Air Station Chase Field, Beeville, Texas.

Box 2 Folder 9

Publications - The Lucky Bag, 1929

Box 2 Folder 10

Publications - Naval Avionics Systems, undated

By Lieutenant Commander I.R. White.

Box 2 Folder 11

Publications - Official Bulletin of Schools and Courses: Fiscal Year 1963 Edition, 1963

Naval Air Technical Training Command course catalog.

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