Robert Clever was born on May 22, 1914, in Portland, Oregon. He enlisted in the Aviation Cadet Program of the Army Air Corps for Bombardier training on March 15, 1941, and was commissioned a 2d Lt in the U.S. Army Air Forces on December 16, 1941. Lt Clever's first assignment was as a B-25 Mitchell bombardier with the 95th Bomb Squadron at McChord Field, Washington, from December 1941 until he was selected for the Doolittle Mission in February 1942. He was the bombardier on the 7th B-25 to take off from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet (CV-8) on April 18, 1942, and after bombing its assigned targets in Tokyo, the crew crash landed off the coast of China. After returning to the United States and being treated for his injuries in the crash, Lt Clever served as a B-26 Marauder navigator with the 432nd Bomb Squadron of the 17th Bomb Group at Barksdale Field, Louisiana, until he was killed in the crash of a B-26 near Versailles, Ohio, on November 20, 1942. He was buried at the Lincoln Memorial Park in Portland, Oregon.
His Distinguished Flying Cross Citation reads:
For extraordinary achievement while participating in a highly destructive raid on the Japanese mainland on April 18, 1942. Lieutenant Clever volunteered for this mission knowing full well that the chances of survival were extremely remote, and executed his part in it with great skill and daring. This achievement reflects high credit on Lieutenant Clever and the military service.