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Clement Bittner, Jr.

 

        Clement Leon Bittner, Jr., was a member of the Spring Class of 1944, one of the pioneer classes at Abraham Lincoln High School.

        He was born on October 21, 1926, to Clement Leon and Gertrude Adele (Preston) Bittner in San Francisco. His father was born in Louisiana on February 1, 1891, and died in San Franciso on November2, 1949. His mother was born in Pennsylvania on July 15, 1899, and died on April 17, 1971, in San Francisco.

        While his classmates called him "Clem." his family speaks of him as "Bud. "He had three sisters and a brother: Helen Preston, Frances Mary, Dorothy Jean, and David Preston. Helen and Frances were born in born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, while Clem, Dorothy and David were born in San Francisco. Helen attended Commerce High School, Frances attended Lowell High School, while Dorothy and David attended Lincoln High School.

        Clem attended West Portal Grammar School, Parkside Grammar School, and graduated from Abraham Lincoln High School.

        Clem attended West Portal Grammar School, Parkside Grammar School, and graduated from Abraham Lincoln High School in the Spring Class of 1944.

        The 1943-1944 Roundup states the following about Clement Bittner ". . .Clem hopes to become a flyer after graduation . . . active in swimming while at Lincoln."

        Upon graduating from Lincoln, Clem entered the U. S. Air Force for several months and then was discharged. He always wanted to be an airplane pilot so he took private flying lessons after he was discharged from the Air Force. Realizing that this was insufficient training for employment, he rejoined the United States Air Force and became a fighter pilot. He was a member of the 357th Interceptor Squadron and earned a Distinguished Flying Cross as well as two Air Medals.

        One of his assignments was with the Air Force equivalent of the Navy's Blue Angels. He was to do a "fly-over" during the inauguration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower; however, bad weather enroute to Washington, D C. prevented this honor. His group was ordered to provide presence in Egypt. The flight plan was to take off from an airfield in Southern California, land and refuel at several airfields in the United States, and then refuel in Greenland. However, while over Greenland, a maneuver by a plane in his squadron went wrong. The plane's wing hit the cockpit of Clem's plane. A view by another pilot in the formation indicated that the damage was minimal. However, it was assumed that Clem was knocked unconscious, causing the plane to nosedive and crash. He was killed on Jun 11, 1953. At the time of his death, Clem held the rank of Captain.

        Clem married Audrey Belton in San Francisco in October 1949. One daughter, Diane, was born to this marriage. Diane never married and died in 1992. His wife, Audrey, married Jack Confer, after Clem's death and had four children by her second marriage. She now lives in Ohio.

        Clement Leon Bittner, Jr., is buried in the Golden Gate National Cemetery, San Bruno, San Mateo County, California, in Section R. Grave #499. During his funeral service at the cemetery, air planes from the United States Air Force did a "fly-over" in his honor.