Clayton L. Comfort – Major General, United States Marine Corps

Major General Clayton L. Comfort retired from the Marine Corps on October 1, 1987.


General Comfort, a recipient of residence hall and NROTC scholarships at the University of Kansas, received a Bachelor of Science degree on graduation and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps in February 1953.

On completion of The Basic School, Quantico, Va., in August 1953, he entered flight training at Pensacola Fla. Designated a Naval Aviator at Corpus Christi, Texas, in December 1954, he joined Marine Fighter Squadron (VMF)224 at E1 Toro, Calif.

In 1956, he attended the Communication Officer School at Quantico, then served with Marine Aircraft Group 11 at Atsugi, Japan. Upon his return to the United States in November 1957, he was assigned to Training Group 20 at Cherry Point, N.C. He was promoted to captain in July 1957.

Upon completion of the Aviation Safety Officers Course at the University of Southern California in 1958, he was assigned as a flight instructor and aviation safety officer of the newly commissioned Marine Training Squadron One at Cherry Point.

In July 1960, he was reassigned to the Naval Postgraduate School, at Monterey, Calif., as a student in Aeronautical Engineering. Graduating with a Master of Science degree in June 1963, he was assigned to the Marine Aviation Detachment at Pt. Mugu, Calif., serving as Air-to-Surface Weapons Program Manager in the Naval Missile Center’s Programs Department. Promoted to major in 1964, he continued in this assignment until transferred to Vietnam in October 1966 for duty with Headquarters, U.S. Military Assistance Command, J-3, Saigon.

Returning to the U.S. during October 1967, he was assigned to the Aircraft Weapons Systems Branch at Headquarters Marine Corps, Washington, D.C. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel in November 1967.

He returned to Vietnam in the fall of 1970, where he served as Commanding Officer of Marine Air Base Squadron 11 at DaNang. During June 1971, he returned with the squadron to join the 3d Marine Aircraft Wing at El Toro. The following month, he returned to Cherry Point, where he commanded Marine All-Weather Attack Squadron 332 for the next year, until reassigned as Executive Officer, Marine Aircraft Group 14.

In March 1973, he joined the 34th Marine Amphibious Unit at Camp Lejeune, serving as Executive Officer for 11 months, including a six-month Mediterranean deployment with the Sixth Fleet during the October War in the Middle East. On his return from that cruise, he served as G-3 Operations Officer with the 2d Marine Aircraft Wing, until reporting to the Army War College in July 1974. While there he was promoted to colonel in September 1974.

Upon completing the school, he was subsequently reassigned to Headquarters Marine Corps in June 1975, as Head of the Aircraft Weapons Systems Requirements Branch, Aviation Department. While serving in this capacity, he was selected in February 1978 for promotion to brigadier general. General Comfort was advanced to that grade on June 9, l978 and assigned duty as Assistant Wing Commander, 3d Marine Aircraft Wing, alternately serving as Commanding General of the 5th and 7th Marine Amphibious Brigade, E1 Toro, Calif. He assumed duty as Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Aviation, Headquarters Marine Corps, in July 1980. Following his advancement to major general on May 14, 1982, he was assigned duty as the Commanding General, 3d Marine Aircraft Wing FMF, Pacific, Marine Corps Air Station, E1 Toro, Calif., on May 28, 1982. On June 7, 1985, he was assigned duty as the Chief of Staff, United States Central Command (USCENTCOM), MacDill AFB, Florida. General Comfort was assigned duty as the Deputy Commander, FMF, Atlantic, Norfolk, Va., on July 14, 1986. He served in this capacity until June 26, 1987, when he assumed duty as the CG, FMF, Atlantic/CG, II MAF/CG, FMF Europe (Designate), Norfolk, VA. He served in this capacity unitl his retirement.

General Comfort’s personal decorations include: the Distinguished Service Medal; the Defense Superior Service Medal; the Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V” and gold star in lieu of a second award; the Meritorious Service Medal; Air Medal with Numeral 2; and the Navy Commendation Medal.

Clayton L. Comfort, 74, a retired Major General in the Marine Corps, died of lymphoma October 14 at his home in Lawrence, Kansas.

General Comfort, who lived in Fairfax and Springfield when he was posted to the Washington area, taught Sunday school at Messiah Methodist Church in Springfield from the late 1960s through the early 1970s. He also taught an adult leadership class at St. Stephens United Methodist Church in Burke in the late 1980s.

He was born in Ottawa County, Kansas, and graduated from the University of Kansas. He flew jet fighter and attack aircraft for the Marine Corps and in 1960 earned a master’s degree in aeronautical engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School.

He served two tours in Vietnam and rose through the ranks to commanding general of Fleet Marine Force Atlantic by the time of his retirement in 1987. His military decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal and two Bronze Stars.

After his retirement, he returned to Kansas and was on the board of Habitat for Humanity for 14 years.

Survivors include his wife, Ardis J. Comfort of Lawrence; three children, Anne Comfort of Burke, Lawrence Comfort of Westphalia, Kansas, and Rebecca Phillips of Portland, Ore.; and nine grandchildren


On October 14, 2004, Major General Clayton L. Comfort, United States Marine Corps (retired) died of lymphoma at his home in Lawrence, Kansas.

Born and raised in Ottawa County, Kansas, he received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Architectural Engineering and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps at the University of Kansas in February 1953. After receiving his Wings in December 1954, he served three squadron tours flying jet fighter and attack aircraft. In 1960 he was sent to the Naval Postgraduate School where he earned a Master of Science Degree in Aeronautical Engineering.

General Comfort served two tours in Vietnam. Aviation staff assignments at Headquarters Marine Corps followed, alternating with operational command and staff assignments in the Fleet Marine Force.

After selection for flag rank, General Comfort served twice as a Brigade Commander, as Commanding General of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, and as Chief of Staff of United States Central Command. He was Commanding General of Fleet Marine Force Atlantic at the time of his retirement in 1987. General Comfort’s personal decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal and two Bronze Star Medals with Combat V.

General and Mrs. Comfort returned to Kansas in 1989, where he served the Lawrence chapter of Habitat for Humanity for 14 years as member of the board, finance chair, and president.

He represented Lawrence’s First United Methodist Church as a lay member at Kansas East Annual Conference and supported the United Methodist Men in their missions. He campaigned on school board issues and for bicycle path construction in the city. General Comfort also continued an active interest in military and aviation affairs, serving as president of the Navy League of Kansas City and organizing the Kansas chapter of the Military Officers Association.

General Comfort is survived by his wife, Ardis J. Comfort, of Lawrence; three children, Anne Comfort of Burke, Virginia, Lawrence Comfort of Westphalia, Kansas, and Rebecca Phillips of Portland, Oregon; and nine beloved grandchildren.

Funeral services will be held Wednesday, October 20, 2004, at 1 p.m., First United Methodist Church, Lawrence. Burial will be at Arlington National Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be given to the Lawrence, Kansas chapter of Habitat for Humanity, 412 E 9th, Lawrence, KS 66044 or the First United Methodist Church of Lawrence, 946 Vermont, Lawrence, Kansas 66044.

DATE OF BIRTH: 02/20/1930
DATE OF DEATH: 10/14/2004

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