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ON THE SHOULDERS OF A GIANT: Col. David Clark receives Order of Nevada award, named after father, previous NV Adjutant General

  • Published
  • By Airman First Class Thomas Cox
  • 152nd Airlift Wing
In 2001, The Nevada National Guard Drennan A. Clark Order of Nevada award was created and was named in honor of Maj. Gen. Drennan Clark (ret.), one of the longest serving Nevada Adjutant Generals. Now, 20 years later, his son, Col. David Clark, has been awarded the special accommodation.

Clark currently serves as the Special Projects Officer for the Nevada National Guard State Headquarters. He is what is known as a traditional guardsman, serving with an obligation of only training one weekend a month and two weeks of active training a year, truly a “citizen-soldier.”

He is also known as Mr. Clark to the students at Sparks Middle School in Sparks, Nevada. This is where he has spent over 25 years teaching social studies to thousands of students.

“I always say that education is a calling in life, it’s a noble profession. I also say the military is a calling in life, it’s a noble profession,” said Maj. Gen. Ondra Berry, Nevada Adjutant General. “Here you have somebody that can do both of those callings. I just want to thank you for what you have done to give those young people hope.”

Col. Clark started his military career in 1992, over 29 years ago, and has only served with the Nevada Air National Guard.

He started off working in numerous officer and command positions throughout the 152nd Maintenance Group (MXG), even working up to become the commander of the group in 2016.

His efforts with the 152nd MXG directly supported over 3,400 sorties and 3,600 wartime mission hours for the aerospace expeditionary force, all while maintaining a 90% effectiveness rating.

Aside from his time with the maintenance group, Clark also served as the Vice Commander of the 152nd Airlift Wing in 2013. In this position, he assisted in implementing the commander’s inspection program, a critical component of the Air Force inspection program.

Due to his efforts, the wing was fully compliant on all items well ahead of schedule, enabling commanders to find and fix any issues prior to the inspection.

He also assisted in improving both the wing’s medical readiness compliance directly leading to an increase in the physical fitness pass rate from 89% to 96% in just two years’ time.

Clark has also completed three tours of duty to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, as well as deployments to U.S. Southern Command and U.S. Air Forces in Europe. Along with being activated several times for state emergencies.

In 2017, Clark moved to the Nevada State Headquarters where he has been since. Here he was a part of the group that took on standing up the Nevada Air Guard’s first ever innovation team.

Clark was also a large part in creating and leading the state’s efforts focused on improving resiliency of the Airmen.

“When we talk about resiliency, that is such a large part of your legacy,” said Berry to Clark during the ceremony. “The video that you filmed during the wing’s resiliency down day opened the doors for so many to feel comfortable and be able to reach out for help.”

“Thank you for all that you have done for this organization. If there is anyone that is very well deserving of the Drennan Clark award is Dave Clark.”

Clark and his father then took to the stage where the orders of the award were read off, highlighting all of Clark’s achievements in his career thus far to those in attendance, which included his family and many key figures from throughout his career.

His father then placed the medal around his neck and they rendered each other a salute, an expression of respect and honor.

“Standing up here today, I am standing on the shoulders of giants,” said Col. Clark.

Many of those giants were sitting in the seats just a few feet in front of him. Nevada Adjutant Generals including his father, Maj. Gen. (ret.) Drennan Clark, as well as Maj. Gen. (ret.) Giles Vanderhoof and Brig. Gen. (ret.) Larry Cerfoglio were in attendance. Also there was Col. (ret.) Steve Hansen, one of Clark’s biggest mentors, along with senior leadership from both the Nevada National Guard State Headquarters and the 152nd Airlift Wing.

“It was my dad, Generals Vanderhoof and Cerfoglio and Col. Hansen that kept the mission going when our unit lost the F-4 phantom fighters,” said Clark. “They got us into our new mission and pushed the future of the wing forward.”

“I didn’t know how important this was until about three years ago when I started working for General Berry. The future is standing on his shoulders, Col. Chauvin’s shoulders and Col. Gunderson’s shoulders as they travel back to Washington D.C. to try and secure the mission of the future.”

“It’s not about them and it’s not about me, it’s about the young Airmen in the unit,” said Clark. “What we want is a relevant and secure mission for the Nevada Air National Guard well into the 21st Century.”

“Also I’m sure my sisters would agree with me, but our dad has had us on his shoulders our entire lives,” continued Clark. “He was an attorney, he was in the National Guard, he was raising a family of five children, and he always found time to coach our sports teams.”

“He always found time to be there for us.”

Maj. Gen. (ret.) Drennan Clark had joined the Nevada Air National Guard in 1960, after growing up and living his entire life in Reno, only moving away to attend the University of San Francisco.

General Clark started his career off as a photo lab technician with the 152nd Reconnaissance Group and later earned his commission in 1964 when he became a supply officer for the 152nd Supply Squadron.

In the beginning of 1968, he had been called to active duty during the Pueblo Crisis where he served as the commander of the 6314th Supply Squadron operating out of Suwon Air Base, Korea and later as the chief at the Special Operations Branch of the 6314th out of Osan Air Base, Korea. He returned to Nevada in the June of 1969 following his release from active duty.

Not too long after, General Clark was assigned to the Nevada Air National Guard Headquarters as the staff judge advocate where later in 1983, he was officially appointed as the state judge advocate.

Clark became the state’s assistant adjutant general for air in 1984 after many years of serving as a judge advocate, even serving three years on the Air National Guard’s Judge Advocate Policy Council. In 1987, he was appointed as the Nevada Adjutant General, a position that he served in until 1991. Clark was one of the longest serving adjutant generals in the state’s history.

The last position that he served in with the Guard was the chairman of the National Guard Bureau’s Executive Environmental Quality Board. He later retired on January 21, 2001.

Maj. Gen. (ret.) Clark served meritoriously in the Nevada Air National Guard for over 40 years and was the first receipt of the Drennan A. Clark Order of Nevada award. According to Col. Clark, his father was surprised with the award at a luncheon during a senior leadership conference in California by Generals Vanderhoof and Cerfoglio.

“When this award first came out, I said ‘I want to get that’,” said Col. Clark. “I knew I was 17 years away, but I wanted to get that award and I wanted my dad to put it over my head and give it to me.”

The Order of Nevada Award recognizes individuals for exceptional meritorious service for at least 25 years in the United States military and at least 20 years of service in the Nevada National Guard.