Mike Clark's Military Service
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My Family's Military Tradition
There has been a tradition of military service in my family which goes back a few generations:
- My father, Don Clark, was a US Marine and a reserve US Airman
- His father, Canby Clark, was a US Navy sailor, who, among other assignments, served on the USS Vestal
- His father, my great grandfather John Clark, was a soldier of the 6th California Volunteer Infantry during the Spanish-American War.
- My great great grandfather, Christian Stoltzmann, served in the 8th Illinois Infantry (on the Union side) during the Civil War.
As for my generation, my brother Mark served in the US Air Force for ten years until medically retired, and I spent eight years in the US Army.
A fuller explanation of my family's history in connection with military service can be found in an entry on my blog, titled The Flag in Front of My House.
My Military History
I enlisted in the US Army in December 1975, initially for four years as an Indirect Fire Crewman (Infantry mortars), but later transferred to the Field Artillery as a Fire Support Specialist (forward observer). Upon re-enlisting, I changed to an occupational specialty better suited to a post-military career, that of Microwave Equipment Repairer. This featured a year-long school, not learning how to repair microwave ovens, but rather microwave communications equipment. Upon completion of the school (during which I met and married my wife Waltraut), I was assigned to Allied Forces Central Europe (AFCENT), to serve in Germany on that organization's new microwave communications backbone, known as CIP-67 (Communications Improvement Program 67). I can't be certain, but I supposed that "67" referred to the year that they began planning the project -- but it wasn't finished until just after I arrived, in 1980, and not activated until 1982.
I served a three-year tour in Germany, and considered remaining in the Army as a career, but because my family had grown considerably (due to my new stepchildren, and our three new children) Waltraut and I decided that it would be best for me to return to the US as a civilian, where we could settle down and raise our family in one place. Accordingly, I was honorably discharged in December 1983, and we moved to Washington state. Rather than leave the service entirely, however, I re-enlisted in the US Army Ready Reserve for one term of service. No duties were required of me, of course.
For a few anecdotes of my Army service, see: Military Memories
Some of the details of my military service are found below.
- Good Conduct Medal (2 Awards) - The Army Good Conduct Medal is awarded to enlisted soldiers completing three years active service, with subsequent three year "hitches" being indicated by "knots", also called "hitches," attached to the medal's ribbon, or the ribbon bar. Since I completed two three-year hitches, I was awarded the medal twice. It's called "Good Conduct" because it means the soldier was not formally disciplined for misconduct during the period for which it was awarded.
- NCO Professional Development Ribbon with Numeral "1" - The NCO Professional Development Ribbon (established in 1981) is issued by the U.S. Army for completion of any prescribed non-commissioned officer development courses. The first award of the NCO Professional Development Ribbon, designated by the numeral "1," is issued for completion of the course now known as the Basic Leader Course. The course that I completed was known at the time as the "Primary NCO Course for Combat Arms," "PNCOC/CA," having the nickname "P-Knock".
- Army Service Ribbon - the Army Service Ribbon is awarded to all members of the Regular (Active) Army, and Army National Guard and United States Army Reserve in an active reserve status, for successful completion of initial-entry training (Basic Combat Training).
- Overseas Service Ribbon - The Army Overseas Service Ribbon is presented to any member of the United States Army who completes a standard overseas tour of duty.
Military Occupational Specialties
- 11C - Indirect Fire Crewman - Infantry mortars - C Co. 2nd Bn 39th INF, Ft. Lewis, WA
- 13F - Fire Support Specialist - Field Artillery forward observer - B Bty 1st Bn 11th FA, Ft. Lewis, WA
- 26L - Tactical Microwave Equipment Repairer - Microwave radios - AFCENT (Allied Forces Central Europe)
- Rifle Expert
- Hand Grenade Expert
- LGM - German Language Linguist
Although my initial Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) was in infantry mortars, I never had the opportunity to test for the mortar qualification badge. About the time my mortar section started to practice for the test, I was detached to our battalion headquarters to serve as a driver/radio-telephone operator. I spent a year doing that before standing before the promotion board for the rank of sergeant. When I was finally promoted and relieved from my attachment, returning to my mortar section as a squad leader, my unit never again conducted qualification tests for the mortar. A year later and I was in the field artillery.
- Fort Lewis, Washington
- Allied Forces Central Europe (AFCENT)
- US Army Element (USAE)
- Central Region Signal Group
Training and Schools
- Basic Combat Training (BCT): Fort Knox, Kentucky
- Advanced Infantry Training (AIT): Fort Polk, Louisiana
- Primary Non-commissioned Officers Course / Combat Arms (PNCOC/CA): Fort Lewis, Washington
- US Army Signal School: Fort Gordon, Georgia