Thomas Park Clement was born in South Korea during the Korean War to a Korean mother and American G.I. father. Outcast as a biracial child and orphaned, he was later adopted by an American family. Mr. Clement grew up in Massachusetts and eventually made his way to Indiana, graduating with a B.A. in Psychology from Indiana University and two Electrical Engineering degrees from Purdue University. He worked at Wavetec, Inc., a communications equipment manufacturer, as its Director of Engineering and then at Vantec, Inc., now Boston Scientific Corporation, as an inventor and product developer in the R&D Department. In 1988 he founded Mectra Labs, which is a bio-technology company that develops various medical devices from concept to final production, including various laparoscopic surgical instruments and other products used in cancer therapies and cardiovascular, brain, and ENT surgeries. He has personally observed over 2,000 surgeries in the U.S. and has been invited on humanitarian missions to lecture, train, and share expertise with surgeons. Mr. Clement holds 42 U.S. patents with additional patents pending.
In his 40s, Mr. Clement began speaking with and counseling Korean American adoptees (KAA) and their families. He decided to write about his experiences, which resulted in his 1998 book The Unforgotten War and his 2012 memoir, Dust of the Streets: The Journey of a Biracial Orphan of the Korean War. His extraordinary life was captured in a 2012 video documentary, Where Are You Going, Thomas? The Journey of a Korean War Orphan (excerpt)
Since 1955, there have been over 200,000 Korean adoptees, and Mr. Clement has been a role model and mentor to those in the KAA community. He recently set up special funds to cover the costs of other Korean American Adoptees, Korean war veterans, and Korean families looking to locate birth parents, children, or relatives by submitting DNA tests to Family Tree DNA. His other humanitarian efforts include helping with Korean American community projects in the U.S., supplying medical equipment on missions to Africa and North Korea, and providing food and support for orphanages.
Mr. Clement is the recipient of numerous awards including the Association of Korean Adoptees inaugural Role Model Award (1999), the Purdue University Distinguished Alumnus Award (2000), an appointment by the South Korean President to the Advisory Committee on Unification (2002), the HealthTrust Supplier of the Year (2009), the MedAssets Supplier of the Year (2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014), the President’s Call to Service Award (2014), the Korean American Story’s inaugural Trailblazer Award (2015), and now the NAAAP 100 Award.
In addition to being an inventor, businessman, and humanitarian, Mr. Clement is a trapeze artist, Tae Kwon Do expert, and has played guitar in a rock band. He has two children and currently lives in Bloomfield, Indiana with his artist wife, Wonsook Kim.