After graduating from Plattsburg, Missouri High School in 1913, Henry Robinson Clay was a student at the University of Missouri where he joined the Army ROTC and Kappa Sigma. He then studied law at the University of Texas in Austin before enlisting in the United States Signal Corps, Aviation Section. He was one of the first pilots the United States Air Service sent to England for advanced flight training. After serving with 43 Squadron in the Royal Air Force, he was assigned to the 148th Aero Squadron where he scored 8 victories. He assumed command of the 41st Aero Squadron before the war ended. He died from influenza a few months later. His Distinguished Service Cross was awarded posthumously.
Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC)
On 16 August, while leading his patrol, they were attacked by six Fokker biplanes over Noyon. Lt. Clay shot down one in flames and with his flight drove the others east. On 27 August, with another of his flight, he attacked a two-seater over Rémy. After a short burst the wing came off and the EA was seen to crash by three other pilots. On 4 September, while two flights of his squadron, led by Lt. Clay, were patrolling with two flights of No. 60 Squadron, RAF, they were engaged by ten Fokker biplanes. In the fight which ensued, he shot an EA off the tail of an SE5. It was seen to crash and burn up on the ground by a pilot of No. 60 Squadron. A moment later Lt. Clay attacked two EA on the tail of one of his patrol, one of which was seen to crash. This fight started at 4,000 feet and ended at 800 feet. Lt. Clay's flight accounted for three EA crashed and one out of control. This officer has been on active service since 17 March 1918. He has destroyed five EA (one two-seater shared with Lt. T.L. Moore) and driven down out of control one. He has exhibited on all occasions, admirable qualitites of leadership and has moulded his flight into a most effective fighting unit.
Distinguished Service Cross (DSC)
The Distinguished Service Cross is presented to Henry Robinson Clay, Jr., First Lieutenant (Air Service), U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in action near Sains-les-Marquion, France, September 4, 1918. In an action wherein Lieutenant Clay's patrol was outnumbered two-to-one, he attacked the group and shot down the enemy aircraft in flames. He continued in the combat and later attacked two enemy aircraft which were pursuing a plane of his patrol and succeeded in shooting one enemy aircraft down. Again, on September 27, 1918, near Cambrai, France, with one other pilot, Lieutenant Clay observed five enemy planes approaching our lines and, although hopelessly outnumbered, immediately attacked and singled out a plane which was seen to crash to the ground. He was immediately attacked by the other enemy planes and compelled to fight his way back to our lines.