Clifford C. Dartt, 95, died peacefully on December 3, 2015 at Charlton Memorial Hospital in Fall River, MA. Clifford was a decorated Veteran and an Eagle Scout. He worked for the phone company helping to set up the Early Distance warning line in Alaska and later in Iran and Saudi Arabia. Clifford was a very special character. Always ready with a friendly “Howdy”, a wry sense of humor, and good natured banter. Even in his later years, he was never at a loss for words.
Clifford was born on November 6, 1920 in Derby, CT to Clifford F. Dartt and Rebecca (Parker) Dartt and raised in Oneonta, NY. Clifford was the middle son of three. His brothers Charles and Edward both died prior to Clifford.
In 1937, Eleanor Roosevelt awarded Clifford his Eagle Scout ranking in Washington, DC. After graduating from Oneonta High School, Clifford attended the University of Iowa. He did not complete his studies until after the Second World War, however, when he joined the U.S. Army Air Corps.
During World War II, Clifford served as a B-17 Co-Pilot with 384th Bombardment Group/544th, flying out of Grafton Underwood, England. He was shot down over Belfonds, France on July 4, 1943, on his third mission. He was returning from bombing a Nazi engine factory in Lemans, France. He was taken prisoner by the Nazis and was a POW in Stalag Luft 3 and later Stalag Luft 7a prison camps until April 1945 when his camp was liberated by General Patton’s forces. The Stalag Luft 3 Camp was the site of the events inspiring the film, “The Great Escape.” Clifford assisted in the construction of one of the famous tunnels by helping dispense with dirt in the prison yard.
The good citizens of Belfonds, France have erected a monument to the crew of Clifford’s B-17 and hold an annual commemoration ceremony to honor and never forget the American airmen. On July 22, 2015 two Belfonds citizens, Sally and Dany Sorel, traveled from France to meet Clifford at his Autumn Glen residence. This was a stirring and emotional reconnection between Clifford and the village of Belfonds 72 years after Clifford’s B-17 crashed there.
In 1946, after the end of the war, Clifford married Lillian Bacheller. They had three children: Darlene, Joanne and Steve.
Clifford worked for Bell Telephone and Western Electric Company for almost 40 years. He was stationed in, among other locations, Utica, NY, Charlotte, NC, Alaska, Iran, and Saudi Arabia.
After the war, Clifford continued his military aviation career by flying helicopters in the New York National Guard. In total, Clifford served our country for 38 years. For 67 years Clifford was a member of the Oneonta, NY Masonic Lodge No. 466, A.F. & A.M.
Clifford retired from his distinguished military and civilian working careers and moved to Salida, Colorado just East of Monarch Pass where he lived for about 20 years enjoying time and attending the Salida United Methodist Church with his close companion Nancy Zielinski. He enjoyed square and round dancing with the Monarch Mavericks, golfing, exploring the high peaks around Salida and doing projects around his house well into his late 80s. He loved taking long driving trips, never in a hurry, mostly in the Western states but in the East too, for many reasons including visiting family, attending dancing events and the annual Super Bowl party at his Parker cousins in Olympia, WA.
Clifford left Colorado in 2010 to live at Autumn Glen assisted living in Dartmouth, MA to be closer to his children. Throughout his life, Clifford made his best effort to attend Sunday church services. While living in Dartmouth, he regularly attended St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in New Bedford where everyone was so welcoming to him. He loved to sing, especially the traditional hymns.
Clifford is survived by his former wife Lillian of Mattapoisett, MA, his three children Darlene Dartt and her husband Howard Tarko of Newton, MA and their children Rachel Tarko Hudson and her husband Sam Hudson of San Francisco, CA, Laura Tarko of Waltham, MA and Kathryn Tarko of Chicago, IL, Joanne (Dartt) and Mark Olson of Mattapoisett, MA and Steve and Judy Dartt of Peabody, MA and their two children Richard Brunet of San Antonio, TX and Kristen Brunet of Seattle, WA.
Clifford’s family wishes to express their sincere gratitude to the respective staffs of Autumn Glen and Charlton Memorial Hospital for their superb care and sensitivity to Clifford during his stays at these facilities.
There will be a memorial service for family and close friends at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, 884 Kempton St., New Bedford, MA on Sunday December 20, 2015 at 2 PM. There will be no calling hours. Clifford’s cremains will be interred with military honors at Arlington National Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Clifford’s name to the 384th Bombardment Group www.384thbombgroup.com, Wounded Warrior Project www.woundedwarriorproject.org, or the USO www.uso.org/donate. Arrangements are by the Saunders-Dwyer Mattapoisett Home for Funerals, 50 County Road, Route 6, Mattapoisett. For online condolence book, please visit www.saundersdwyer.com.