The Vault

A Sailor’s Annotated Map of the Pacific Illustrates a Tour of Duty During WWII 

This map, annotated by Navy signalman Homer Bluford Clonts, tracks the geographical trajectory of the sailor’s service on the USS Sheridan, the SS Young America, and the USS Eldorado, from 1943 to 1945. Clonts kept notes on the back of the map, registering when the ships he was on crossed the international date line, took important personnel like the Secretary of the Navy on board, or saw action. 

Clonts noted destinations: the Marshall Islands, Hawaii, Guam, Saipan. On board the Eldorado, which functioned as a command post, he saw the Marines go ashore at Iwo Jima in February 1945. Of that time, he noted, dryly, “From D-Day until we left, there were air raids almost every night. Several ships were sunk or damaged by bombs or suicide planes. Jap radio says Adm. [Kelly] Turner will not leave Pacific alive. It doesn’t seem to worry him.” 

After Clonts left the service in 1945 (an occasion he noted without ceremony: “November 10, 1945: Discharged from the U.S. Navy”), he became a newspaper writer and editor. He worked for the Knoxville, Tennessee, News-Sentinel for forty years. 

Clonts wrote occasional pieces about his wartime experiences for the paper, even after his retirement. In a 1995 letter to the News-Sentinel’s editor, addressing the controversy over whether Joe Rosenthal had posed his famous photo of the flag-raising on Iwo Jima, Clonts wrote that he had witnessed the event from the bridge of the Eldorado. “Joe … happened to be in the right place at the right time to shoot” the photograph of the second raising of the American flag on the island, Clonts wrote. “He didn’t pose it, as some envious photographers would have you believe.” 

Clonts passed away in 1999. His map recently entered the collection of the Library of Congress through his family’s donation to the Veterans History Project.

Thanks to Elaine Clonts Russell for permission to use the image of the map and for providing biographical information about her father. Click on the images below to reach larger, zoomable versions. 

Shawn Miller, Library of Congress. Used by permission of Elaine Russell.

Shawn Miller, Library of Congress. Used by permission of Elaine Russell.