It wasn’t his ear-to-ear grin, the strong grip when he shakes your hand, the sleeves that are always rolled up on his ABUs or the memorable way he belted out the national anthem at unit functions that set Chief Master Sgt. Shane Clark apart at the 162nd Wing here for 31 years.
Instead, it was his tireless advocacy for the Airman that will be remembered best among unit members as the command chief master sergeant.
And after 4 years in this role, Clark will continue his dedicated service to guardsmen at the Arizona National Guard Joint-Forces Headquarters in Phoenix as the Senior Enlisted Advisor of the Arizona National Guard. The position will be in a drill-status guardsman capacity.
“I am humbled to be a member of this team, and I will always know where my home is,” said Clark.
Born in Tucson and raised in Tombstone, Clark’s inspiration for becoming a Citizen-Airman came after coming in constant contact with an Air Guard firefighter, a career strategy that he instills in today’s young servicemembers.
“Attach yourself to a mentor – somebody who you respect and want to emulate,” he said. “Be a sponge and learn everything that they can throw at you, and when you think you got it, ask for more.”
With the intention of doing just 6 years in uniform and then finding employment as a civilian firefighter, Clark eventually rose to the responsibility as a fire chief at the 162nd Wing.
“It was the best job I have ever had,” Clark added. “Then I got this job, and I got to represent you, the Airmen.”
Clark will be returning to his first-responder roots, running the fire, paramedic and law enforcement programs at Pima Community College.
Tech. Sgt. Dana Watson, who Clark worked with when he was a part of the command staff, said he exuded sincerity during his leadership.
“His uplifting attitude – coming through the door every morning – will be greatly missed,” said Watson.
During his departure ceremony May 1 at the 162nd Wing dining facility, Clark gave closing remarks that illuminated his commanding presence, and emphasizing the global nature of the F-16 schoolhouse and the Predator mission at the 214th Reconnaissance Group.
“We fly flags out on the front gate and everybody knows our incredibly important mission, and it’s the Airmen who are the ones that do this every day, making this happen,” he said. “This wing is truly touching the whole world in regards to freedom and what it represents in the United States of America. Don’t ever forget that.”
Effective May 3, Chief Master Sgt. Thomas Vandervort will serve in the command chief role for the interim at the 162nd Wing, with Chief Master Sgt. Armando Gonzalez assuming the permanent duties and responsibilities of the position come December of this year.