VA Veteran of the Day
On January 17, 2023, the Department of Veterans Affairs recognized Richard “Clem” Clement (Stevens Institute of Technology, 1959) as #VeteranOfTheDay.
Clement was born in Woodbury, New Jersey. He attended George School in Newton, Pennsylvania, and later enrolled at Stevens Institute of Technology, where he studied engineering and participated in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program. After graduating, Clement joined the Air Force in October 1959, completing pre-flight school in San Antonio, Texas, primary flight training in Bainbridge, Georgia, and basic flight training in Laredo, Texas.
After flight training, Clement was assigned to the 55th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron. He flew the WB-50D aircraft, accumulating over 2,100 flying hours. In 1962, he served at Johnston Island and Christmas Island, where he took part in four nuclear bomb test detonations, including Starfish Prime. A year later, he completed two flights around Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis, an experience that was “as scary a thing as any [he’d] ever done.” Clement next served in Hawaii for three years, in Japan for a year, and then six months in Vietnam and Thailand. In the latter two, Clement flew the KB-50 aerial tanker and completed 27 combat support missions.
After serving abroad, Clement returned to Hawaii, where he served for two and a half years flying the C-47. He then attended the University of Southern California, from which he graduated with a master’s degree in systems engineering, before returning to Vietnam for a second tour. In Vietnam, Clement served for almost a year with the 7th Air Force Command Post and the briefing team of a four-star general. He then returned to the U.S. and was stationed at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama, where he took part in a study examining the effectiveness of U.S. air power in Southeast Asia.
His next move was to Germany to serve as chief of the Airlift Control Center, managing C-130s and C-9s. While there, he was joined by his wife, Sandy, a flight nurse who completed 2,500 hours of flying time by the end of her military career. In addition to three children from a previous marriage, Clement has two children with Sandy.
After serving in Germany, Clement moved to Hanscom Air Force Base in Boston for almost three years. Because he had over 4,000 hours of flight time—reaching the limit the Air Force had set for him—he served in the Special Program’s Office on WIMAX, a communications system.
Clement then moved to Washington, D.C., where he worked at the Pentagon for four years as an executive to a senior official and with the Air Warfare Office. He retired in June 1983 with the rank of colonel. After a 23-year military career, Clement later worked at the RCA Corporation, the Direct Selling Association, and the Armed Forces Communications & Electronics Association. He is also part of the Train Collectors Association, representing his love for model trains. Having always represented his “number one hobby,” model trains have been a part of Clement’s life since the age of four when his dad got him his first train. In fact, between 1994 and 2020, Clement also helped manage the National Christmas Tree Railroad, which ran at the bottom of the National Christmas Tree at the White House every December.