Monday: Park renamed in honor of WWII hero Karl Clark


The city of Menlo Park will formally rename the 1-acre Marketplace Park in Belle Haven after Karl Clark, a World War II Navy hero and longtime Menlo Park resident, on Monday, Jan. 15.

The public is invited to the event, to be held at the park, at 313 Market Place, from 11 a.m. to noon. It will feature an unveiling ceremony, with remarks by local representatives and stories about Mr. Clark by community members. Light refreshments will be served.

Mr. Clark, who lived in Belle Haven for decades and died last March at age 100, was the author of several books and a mentor to young people in Belle Haven.

The City Council approved renaming the park in November after the proposal received unanimous support from the Parks & Recreation Commission and a petition favoring the new name was submitted, bearing 115 signatures from community members. The petition was circulated by local resident advocacy group Belle Haven Action, and the initiative was spearheaded by 2016 City Council candidate Cecilia Taylor.

Mr. Clark was serving in the U.S. Navy aboard the USS Aaron Ward in 1945 when the ship was hit by six kamikaze planes. He is credited with heroic actions that saved the ship and many sailors aboard it, but was denied recognition at the time because he was black.

He was finally given a medal 66 years later, in 2012, in a ceremony at Moffett Field presided over by then-Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, who acknowledged that the medal was a "long, long overdue recognition" of a man he called a hero.

Mr. Clark's birth name was Karl Clark, but when he joined the Navy, officials spelled his first name "Carl" on his papers, he told the Almanac in a long-ago interview. He then began spelling his first name with a "C," but recently his family reclaimed the original spelling, Karl.


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Like this comment
Posted by John Lavrakas
a resident of another community
on Jan 17, 2018 at 6:54 am

I was so happy to hear of this recognition for Karl Clark, who unselfishly risked his life in saving others during the terrible attack on the USS Aaron Ward in 1945. My father, CAPT Lefteris Lavrakas (USN, Ret), served with Mr. Clark on the Aaron Ward, and spoke of his heroism. "Alone, Carl aimed the hose at the smoldering ammunition locker.” The ship stayed afloat. “Carl Clark is the reason why.”

It is fitting that Menlo Park should memorialize this important citizen of their community so that others may be inspired by his life and his work.

John Lavrakas
Newport, Oregon

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