Gen. Lucius D. Clay

Clay, a West Point graduate and "father" of the Berlin Airlift, received The American Legion's Distinguished Service Medal in 1962 for "his close identification with the defense of Western Germany, first as commander of the U.S. Forces and Military Government in the United States Zone during the Berlin Airlift, and as Kennedy's special representative," National Commander Charles L. Bacon said.

Receiving the medal, Clay declared, "I have found The American Legion to be a companion in peace as well as in war. In Berlin during the airlift, it was reassuring to be visited by the then-national commander conveying the full support of The American Legion for the maintenance of our position in Berlin."

Responding to Stalin's Berlin blockade, Clay ordered food and supplies to be flown along the narrow strips of airspace not under Soviet control.

For 11 months, U.S. and Allied forces flew continuous missions, earning Clay the nickname "Pater Urbis - City Father." He retired from the military in May 1949, shortly after Stalin lifted the blockade.

An engineer by trade, Clay worked in the business world after retirement, serving on many corporate boards.

Upon his death in 1978 at 80, Clay was buried at West Point. A graveside plaque from Berlin residents reads: "Wir danken dem Bewahrer unserer Freiheit - We thank the defender of our freedom."

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