After 60 years of combined federal service, Thomas Clark is retiring.
While he may have to learn a new routine that doesn't include packing his briefcase in the mornings and driving to Fort Rucker, he will not have to wonder about the legacy he leaves behind.
The longtime employee at the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence Directorate of Training and Doctrine here is well known for his professionalism and for helping Soldiers.
“Mr. Clark is the epitome of what a professional employee should be. He isn’t ‘supervised’, he is simply managed on the other requirements, and as an education technician is left to do his job, which he does flawlessly,” said Chuck Sampson, chief, Educational Technologies Support Section, Education and Technologies Branch of DOTD.
In the summer of 1959, Clark and a friend from home entered the service together, with a promise from the Army to keep them together.
“Peter Barns and I were youngsters on the streets. We joined on the buddy system, guaranteed to serve together for five years. And we did,” he explained.
His buddy returned home to St. Louis to work in the civilian sector after that tour, but Clark made the Army his career.
Clark served as an indirect fire infantryman, wheel vehicle mechanic and motor sergeant in CONUS and in Korea. While assigned to the 51st Signal Brigade at Tegu, South Korea, he was selected to attend training at the Inspector General University. In 1968 he was awarded permanent grade to E-6 from E-4 specialist.
He served in Europe, as a supply sergeant and family housing referral sergeant for housing management in Darmstadt, Germany.
As a sergeant first class, he served as team chief for the U.S. MILCOM Activity Drug and Alcohol Assistance Center. He was awarded the Meritorious Service Impact Award for managing a community drug and alcohol assistance center there serving 8,000 people.
“We had quite a few successes with [the program] where we actually could feel that we converted a Soldier from being a drinker to a thinker and a real family person," he said.
He returned to Germany to serve at U.S. MILCOM Activity Mannheim at the Directorate of Public Affairs, as the Director, Public Safety, and with the additional duty as Life Support Program Coordinator. He received a second Meritorious Service Impact Award for serving the third largest community in United States Army Europe, including 23 separate installations and more than 25,000 personnel.
During his career he also participated in testing of the M656, an amphibious 5-ton 8x8 U.S. military heavy cargo truck in Texas.
“We got to tear it apart, put it back together, help them write manuals on it,” he said.
Though he completed jungle training multiple times, he never deployed to Vietnam.
After retiring from active duty, federal civilian service was an easy transition for him.
“I had learned the military way. I really enjoyed it, because way back then when you were an E-5 and you had young Soldiers with you to work, you sort of fathered them through doing what they were supposed to do, writing nice performance things for them, seeing those guys get promoted,” Clark said.
“I was fortunate enough to have some super positions, positions that officers would have had,” Clark said.
As a civilian, Clark served as statistical assistant and editorial assistant at the Defense Language Institute, English Language Center at Lackland Air Force Base. He returned to Germany, where he was selected as the Inspectional Assistant, 104th ASG, Inspector General.
In his 25 years at Fort Rucker, he worked first as a schedule clerk for 1-145th Aviation Regiment, then as a supply technician for Directorate of Public Works, and eventually as an education and training technician at DOTD.
During his tenure at DOTD, he performed duties as the USAACE Army Training Requirements and Resources System Representative, Army Training Help Desk Agent for the Army Learning Management System, ATHD Federation RIGHTNOW Education Service Agent, and Course Manger for the ALMS, Army Training Management System, and course manager/database manager for the Digital Training Management System.
The Army's people are its greatest strength, and Clark will be missed at DOTD.
“I cannot overstate the competence of Mr. Clark. He is a contradiction to the saying, ‘We’re all replaceable.’ His position can be filled, but he is not replaceable,” Sampson said. "I will truly miss his work ethic and faultless job performance, but most of all I will miss Mr. Clark."
As this chapter in his professional life closes, Clark said he would do it all again.
“I enjoyed helping Soldiers more than anything else,” he said. “I just really had fun.”