Coma’s Clown General of World War II
Brigadier General Isaac “Burpy” Clemens, better known as the “Clown General of World War II” or “Burpy the Clown” was a successful American General in the European theatre during World War II. Born and raised in Coma, Clemens is often cited as the man who saved the Allied Forces during the Battle of the Bulge, Clemens was an expert field strategist who often employed unorthodox tactics which caught his enemies off guard and unprepared.
Clemens gained notoriety in 1944 when he successfully twisted more than four-thousand balloons to create a fake infantry unit that provided a distraction to German units in France, allowing allied forces to secure an important bridge north of France.
A graduate of West Point (Class of 1916), Clemens served during World War I as an artillery officer where he gained the reputation as a tough but lovable leader. He served on Dwight Eisenhower’s staff during World War II and received several commendations for his service.
During the Potsdam Conference of 1945, Clemens nearly caused an international crisis when he inadvertently sprayed seltzer water into the eye of Russian leader Joseph Stalin during their initial greeting.
Clemens died in 1961 and is buried in the Coma cemetery.