Register for your 8 free Gazette only stories Login | Register

VETERANS DAY: Meet your local vets

DESERT STORM VETERAN GARY CLARK: Gary Clark joined the Army Corp of Engineers in 1985 with three goals: travel, develop new skills and compete in overseas body-building competitions. “It was a golden opportunity to see the world, meet different people, learn new things and fulfill personal goals,” said Clark, a former Mr. America competitor. Among the former staff sergeant's favorite military memories is competing in an Army power-lifting competition in 1990. Among his toughest memories are rolling into Northern Iraq in 1991 in support of Operation Desert Storm and into Somalia in 1993 in support of Operation Gothic Serpent, commonly referred to as “Black Hawk Down.” “I thought my heart was going to thump out of my chest,” said Clark of his trip from Turkey into Northern Iraq. “I could literally hear my heart beating in my ear drums.” Memorial Day and Veterans Day are Clark's favorite holidays. The vice commander of the National Association of Black Veterans' Chapter 34 plans to spend the latter eating good food, socializing and reflecting on those who served before him. “I like to reflect on the previous veterans who kept this country together,” Clark said. “The provided me with a chance to serve the country.” When civilians thank him for his service, Clark keeps in mind those who've made the ultimate sacrifice. “There are a lot who didn't make it back,” he said. “I accept the thank-you for those who didn't make it back as well as those who did.” Photo by MARK REIS, THE GAZETTE