Clara Cleland

Obituary of Clara Cleland

Clara Cleland was a veteran of the Korean War, one of the Lucky Thirteen Nurses of the 1st MASH, a devoted Army wife, and a beloved mother of five children, with ten grandchildren. She will be sorely missed by her large family and her countless friends. Clara was born Clara Webster Kehoe in 1927, in Bealeton, VA, to the “Fighting Kehoe” family. Four of her siblings served in WWII, and two of them were killed in action. Clara enrolled in the Cadet Nurse Corps program, graduating from Duke University in 1948 with a BSN degree. After the Korean War started, she was assigned to the 1st Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (“MASH”) in Korea. While on a convoy, her unit, including Clara and 12 other nurses, was ambushed by North Korean forces. All the nurses survived and became known as the “Lucky Thirteen”. While with the 1st MASH, Clara treated a patient who had been badly wounded in both arms. The patient survived and was transferred to Walter Reed Hospital for further surgery. Clara was later reassigned to Walter Reed and, there, she ran into that same patient with the shot-up arms: Captain John Cleland. Clara and John Cleland were married at Walter Reed Chapel on 1 March 1952, and enjoyed 65 years together, until John passed away in 2017. When Clara became pregnant with their first child in December 1952, she was honorably discharged from the Army, pursuant to the regulations at the time. Clara and John raised five children: three of them were Army officers; one was a CIA agent; and one was a spouse of an Army officer. Clara helped raise 10 grandchildren and two great grandchildren. She moved her large family from state to state, and country to country, dozens of times during John’s military career. After John retired from the Army, Clara and John moved to the Melbourne, FL, area, and became active in the Prince of Peace congregation, the DAR, the Indian River Colony Club, the Military Officers Assn., and other admirable organizations. Clara’s greatest legacy, though, is her loving and selfless nature. She had empathy and respect for everyone and put others’ welfare above her own. She set a shining example of character that had significant positive effects on her family, her many friends, and all the other folks who had the good fortune of spending time with her. Clara is survived by: her sister, Dorothy Koval; her five children: Bruce (Rebecca), Robin (Joe), Gary (Michelle), Jack (Mary) and William; their ten grandchildren: Amanda, Andi (Kortney), Kathryn (Nils), Emily, Garrett, Ellen (Matthew), Madeline, Patrick, Will and Carolina; and their two great-grandchildren: Jorden and Savannah. A Celebration of Life is planned for January 14, 2023, at 10:30 at the Prince of Peace Anglican Church, 6895 Murrell Rd, Melbourne, FL 32940, and will be livestreamed on the church’s website at Interment will be at Arlington National Cemetery on a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Clara’s name to: Military Women’s Memorial (at; Prince of Peace Church (at; MOAACC Scholarship Fund (at; and/or the Florida Wildlife Hospital (at
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Clara Cleland, please visit Tribute Store

Celebration of Life

2023-01-14 10:30:00 Prince of Peace Anglican Church 6895 Murrell Rd Melbourne Florida 32940
Share Your Memory of