WWII veteran, Elks leader Boggs dies at 100

Published 3:04 pm Friday, May 19, 2023

Clarence Boggs, an Ironton World War II veteran. meets with President Barack Obama on the steps of Air Force One in Reno, Nevada in 2016. (The Ironton Tribune | Heath Harrison)

One of Lawrence County’s heroes from the Greatest Generation and a staple of the city’s Elks lodge has passed at age 100.

Clarence Boggs, of Ironton, died Wednesday at home.

Boggs, who spent three and a half years in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II, took part in the battles of Saipan and Okinawa, as well as the Allied post-war occupation of Japan.

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It was during that occupation that he was able to see firsthand the aftermath of the atomic bombing of the city of Nagasaki.

“No matter where you stood, you couldn’t see anything but trash on the ground,” he said in a 2019 interview with The Tribune. “You couldn’t believe what you were looking at.”

He recalled a group of Catholic nuns, who lived in a monastery in the hills above the city, where they made chocolate.

Their home was seven miles from the bomb’s point of impact.

“There was a room there, facing the blast,” he said. “It blew out all the windows. There was glass stuck in the walls like daggers. They were lucky no one was in there at the time or they could have been killed by flying glass. That was exactly seven miles away, so that gives you 14 miles of damage all around.”

Following his discharge from the military on April 15, 1946, Boggs returned home and to his previous job at Dayton Malleable, where he had been promised he would be rehired after being drafted for the war. He worked there for 45 years.

As one of the last of a dwindling number of World War II veterans, Boggs received a special honor in 2016, when he was invited to meet President Barack Obama at a stop in Reno, Nevada.

“He asked that I be at the steps at Air Force One when he got off the plane,” Boggs recalled.

He kept keeps a photo of the occasion on display and carries in his wallet a Presidential Challenge Coin, given to him by Obama.

Boggs was active in his community as a member of the VFW, the Moose lodge, the Knights of Columbus and then served as Exalted Ruler at the Ironton Elks Lodge.

The Elks had a special dinner in Boggs’ honor in 2019, as he was the oldest living Past Exalted Ruler in the State of Ohio.

Boggs was among the World War II veterans featured in The Tribune’s special 2020 publication marking 75 years since the end of World War II.

Boggs was preceded in death by his wife, Lafern, and a son, Patrick.

Surviving are his son; Michael Boggs of Columbus, Ohio, his daughters; Terri Mollette of Ironton, Cindy McComas of Columbus, Ohio, and Susan Liming of South Bristol, ME, eight grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.  

Burial of Christian Mass will be noon Saturday at St. Joseph Catholic Church, 905 S. 5th St. Ironton, with Father Morris officiating and burial will follow in Calvary Cemetery. Visitation will be from 11 a.m. until the time of service at the church also. Military rites will be provided by VFW Post 8850.