Lt. Clark V. Poling, son of a Baptist minister and chaplain during World War I, grew up in Poughkeepsie, New York and played high school football. He graduated from Rutgers University and Yale Divinity School, was ordained in the Reformed Church of America and pastored in Schenectady, N.Y. When the Second World War broke out he enlisted immediately. He and his fellow chaplains ministered to 900 soldiers on the transport ship Dorchester, headed for England by way of Greenland, when the ship was downed by a German U-boat. He was married to Elizabeth, had a young son named Corky, and his daughter Susan Elizabeth was born three months after his death.