Retiring command sergeant major credits, thanks NCOs, Soldiers for successful career
June 10, 2009
HOHENFELS, Germany -- Command Sgt. Maj. Perry Clark's career has taken him a long way from Fort Jackson, S.C. where he enlisted as a unit supply specialist in 1981.
As he moved through the ranks from private to command sergeant major, Clark has served the United States Army at stations ranging from North Carolina and Virginia to Korea, Panama and Germany.
On what Clark called a "bittersweet day," that career was honored during a ceremony May 14 at the U.S. Army Garrison Hohenfels post theater.
At the time of his retirement Clark had been the command sergeant major for USAG Hohenfels for the past two years.
Lt. Col. Gary Bloomberg, garrison commander, spoke about Clark and what he has meant not just to installation Soldiers, but to Hohenfels as a whole and to every Soldier he influenced during his time in the Army.
Bloomberg told a story during which he asked a young noncommissioned officer if he would attend Clark's retirement ceremony.
"You know what he said' 'I wouldn't miss it Sir. Command sergeant major Clark is one of my favorite command sergeants major.' And that's a direct quote," Bloomberg said, explaining that the young Soldier was not in Clark's chain of command.
"That says a lot about the kind of NCO this guy is and always will be. His span of control as command sergeant major is far beyond the patch on his shoulder."
Bloomberg pointed out that in his almost 29-year career, Clark has held four battalion level command sergeant major positions.
"He has dedicated the majority of his life to his country ... it doesn't get better than this," said Bloomberg.
Clark, who has attended many USAG Hohenfels functions held in honor of the Army's declaration of 2009 as the Year of the NCO, spoke of his two daughters as his greatest accomplishment of all and read an email from his daughter about to earn her commission as a signal officer.
"She said, 'I love you with all my heart but just have one question: Are you crazy' 29 years' I have only been in for 15 months but have all then experience I need to realize you have a few screws loose,'" said Clark.
After a moment of laughs, he came close to tears as he went on to explain why he stayed in the Army so long.
After asking all the young Soldiers, NCOs, and family members in the audience to stand, Clark said, "I wanted to take one last opportunity as an active duty Soldier to thank you for your patriotism, dedication and professionalism. You and all the other NCOs, Soldiers and families you represent, you are the real reason I stayed in the Army for so long."
"If I must be remembered by the Army for something," he said, his voice wavering, "I hope that would be it: that the Soldiers were always my number one priority."
Clark thanked the unit leadership and fellow Europe command sergeants major that came to show their support.
"I have been in now for 28 years and 5 months, and I would not change any of it," he said. "I will never forget being part of an incredible organization and an incredible team."