Clarence W. McClusky, Jr. was born in Buffalo, New York, on 1 June 1902. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1926 and became a Naval Aviator three years later. Over the next decade, he served in several air units, as well as on command staffs, as an instructor at the Naval Academy and at shore facilities. In 1940 he was assigned to Fighting Squadron Six (VF-6), based on USS Enterprise (CV-6), and assumed command of that squadron in April 1941.
Lieutenant Commander McClusky became Enterprise air group commander in April 1942. During the Battle of Midway, while leading his air group's scout bombers on 4 June 1942, he made the critical tactical decision that led to the destruction of the Japanese aircraft carriers Kaga and Akagi, thus making a vital contribution to the outcome of that pivotal battle. Later in World War II, he commanded the escort carrier USS Corregidor (CVE-58).
Captain McClusky served in a variety of staff and shore positions in the later 1940s. During the Korean War, he was Chief of Staff to the Commanders of the First and Seventh Fleets. He commanded Naval Air Station, Glenview, Illinois, in 1952-53, and the Boston Group of the Atlantic Reserve Fleet in 1954-56. Clarence W. McClusky, Jr., retired from active duty in July 1956. At that time, in recognition of his vital contributions to the outcome of World War II, he was advanced to Flag rank. Rear Admiral McClusky died on 27 June 1976.