The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Commander envisions growth

 

June 26, 2009



Cannon Connections photo: Argen Duncan Cannon Air Force Base Commander Col. Stephen A. Clark sits at his desk. The stuffed ducks are gifts from his daughters.

Sitting in front of his desk, which holds neat stacks of papers, a sculpture of a monkey contemplating a human skull and a toy duck from his daughters, Col. Stephen A. Clark talks about how Cannon Air Force Base’s growth is just beginning and notes the enthusiasm he sees in base personnel.

Looking to the future

Clark officially took command of Cannon on May 26. He said the next step for the wing and base is to focus on changing mindsets from accepting and building new missions to executing them.

In the two years or so Clark expects to be stationed at Cannon, he envisions growth in several areas.

“You’ll see a ramp full of aircraft,” he said, adding that he expects to have more than required.

Also, Clark anticipates many more deployments, upwards of nine operational squadrons with a variety of abilities and a population of close to 5,000. Dorms, maintenance buildings and a new aircraft parking ramp are on the way, he said.

Clark sees his role in Cannon’s mission as supporting whatever his boss, Lt. Gen. Donald C. Wurster, wants and as serving the people under him.

“So I am here to enable the folks that really get the mission done,” he said.

If those people fail, Clark said, he has failed because he hasn’t sufficiently provided the training, resources, leadership and guidance they need.

All in a day’s work

Most days, Clark starts with physical training and then arrives at his office at 7 a.m. Even while eating lunch, he keeps working.

At 7 p.m., Clark leaves the office and heads to any social functions he needs to attend.

Clark said he has worked at least part of every weekend since he took command.

Although his staff constructs his schedule, Clark said, something always changes.

“I wouldn’t say there’s any such thing as a typical day,” he said.

After finishing with current squadron orientations, Clark hopes to shorten his work days so he can spend more time with his family.

Dancing on the world’s stage

Clark said he joined the Air Force because, as an “Army brat,” he was familiar with the service and because he wanted to fly from a young age. He had no interest in civilian pilot careers, and service to country was an often-taken road in his family.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my career,” Clark said. “It’s always something new, different. I enjoy a challenge.”

Clark said his military life has allowed him to work with phenomenal people. On top of that, he said he has been able to “dance on the world’s stage” by taking part in events he expects to go down in history.

For example, Clark was involved with the rescue of American prisoner of war Jessica Lynch, flew the earliest aircraft missions in Bosnia and Operation Iraqi Freedom, and was in the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.

Family life

Clark has been married for 23 years.

“I’m probably one of the most fortunate people in the world in that I fell in love with my best friend, years after she became my best friend,” he said.

Although the two didn’t meet until six months after Clark first saw his future wife, he still remembers where she was and what she was wearing, he said.

The couple has two daughters, 17-year-old Shelby and 12-year-old Sydney.

Shelby is an incoming high school senior.

“She’s a very smart young lady. She’s also a big fan of history,” Clark said.

Shelby takes a lot of advanced classes and is a distance swimmer. Her parents are trying to help her choose a college “so she can continue spending our money,” Clark said.

Clark said Sydney is precocious and has learned to play piano, violin and flute. However, he said, Sydney’s true love is softball, and she prefers to play catcher.

“She doesn’t mind getting run over sometimes,” he said.

The Clarks also have a female golden retriever named Sunny

“If you get the hint, I’m the only male in the family,” Clark said.

 
 

Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2020

Rendered 08/21/2020 18:49