Sheldon V. Clarke, 17, student, saved J. Byron Duke, 17, student, from drowning, Williamsport, Pennsylvania, June 3, 1912. Byron, who was a fairly good swimmer, became distressed in the West Branch of the Susquehanna River 225 feet from the bank, where the water was between five and seven feet deep. Sheldon, a stranger to him, immediately dived from the base of a bridge pier, swam 100 feet, and then put his arm under him. Byron put his hands on Sheldon’s head and shoulder, and both went beneath the surface. When they came up, Sheldon freed himself and Byron ceased to struggle. Sheldon endeavored to swim to the bank with Byron but could not make headway on account of the current and Byron’s weight. With difficulty he supported Byron as they drifted with the current. Both yelled for help, and men were attracted by their cries and went to them in a boat. The boys were nearly exhausted. 8660-741
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Sheldon V. Clarke was born on May 1, 1895, in Williamsport, Pa., and died on June 24, 1987. He was awarded the Carnegie Medal in 1912 for the rescue of Byron Duke from the Susquehanna River in Williamsport.
He received a scholarship to Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa., but his studies were interrupted by World War I. He became a commanding officer in the Army Balloon Observation Corps of the Field Artillery. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and the French Croix de Guerre for bravery in action. After the war he returned to graduate from Lehigh.
After a career in business that spanned the Great Depression and World War II, he retired as head of purchasing for Union Carbide Corp. He received a citation from the Secretary of Defense at the end of World War II for his work with the Manhattan District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
(Edited from a letter from a family member.)