This week, I've hugged him, bigger than I am, and I'm still full of pride and wonder.
To quote the Bible, my version: "That's my boy. I'm proud!"
It was my privilege and honor to attend the emotional Air Force retirement of my first born, M/Sgt. Vance Conrad Clark this past week, at Beale AFB, north of Sacramento, Cal. He's spent 23 years of his life passionately serving our country, traveling the world, meeting and serving people, and more.
I wish you could have been there, and witnessed the honors bestowed on him, officially and unofficially. I wish you could have heard his Colonel's remarks. Lt. Col Michael P. Healy, Commander of the 13th Intelligence Squadron, 548th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group, did his homework in his speech, mentioning Vance's grandfather and my Dad for his art work and draftsman work on WWII aircraft, and spoke of Vance's several career assignments and deployments, and his leadership. Younger airmen really look up to him. (Oh, by the way, Beale AFB is where the famous "spy plane," the U2, is based.)
I wish you could have heard Vance's remarks about me, about his mother, about his wife and children and many others in the room. I wish you could have heard his oldest daughter Katherine surprise him and sing the national anthem, a capella. I wish you could have seen his daughters boo-hoo as he gave them flowers. I wish you have tasted his wonderful wife Kerin's cake, knowing that both of them had only had about three hours of sleep the night before. I wish you could have heard his eloquent extemporaneous speech about serving our country, about his Christian faith in God, about responding to a higher calling, about our freedoms in America. I wish you could have heard his conclusion, "God Bless the United States of America." I wish you could have heard him and his Colonel leading the rousing Air Force Song at the end.
Here's a summary of his accomplishments, his biography, and many photos I took. I know I'm no different than any parent, and I've been blessed and am so proud of my four terrific children, all of whom make you "bust your buttons," as they used to say.
That's my boy. I'm proud.
From Vance's biography, and his recordM/Sgt Vance Conrad Clark is a fusion analyst assigned to the 13th intelligence squadron at Beale AFB. Born in Lemars, Iowa, as the oldest of four, in 1985 he graduated from Waurika High School, and enlisted in the USAF in April 1993 and entered basic training. He has served in career fields to include F-15E crew chief, weather observer and his current field. He took part in major exercises such as VALIANT SHIELD and B-52 operations on Guam.
He was deployed four times, two tours in the Balkans (Bosnia and Kosovo), Iraq and Turkey. Some of his favorite accomplishments were planning demonstration resultant fury, overhauling the USAF influence Ops curriculum authoring the Air Force's first ever cyper-OPSEC course and establishing the USAFE/AF AFRICA A2 training program. Most of all he loved mentoring, teaching and recognizing people for their efforts. He thoroughly enjoyed two mission trips to western Samoa and Romania where he helped prepare children for a better life. He married Kerin on Aug 5, 2003 and they have been blessed with three daughters, Katherine 10, Sarah 7 and Neysa 5. After retirement he plans on spending more time teaching his daughters to fish, finishing a masters degree, staying proficient in Russian and traveling more places to help people out. Above all, he thanks Jesus Chist,the creator and redeemer of the universe, for the blessing,s opportunities and great people with whom he was privileged to serve.
|Col. Healy and M/Sgt. Clark|
|Honors from his peers|
|A special citation for Kerin Clark|
|Citations for Neysa, Sarah and Katherine|
|Vance's remarks on his retirement|
|Leading the Air Force Song|
|The proud father|
To read about his "birthday," here's the link: Birthday thoughts.