News: Marines retire on Corps’ birthday
Story by Marti Gatlin
ALBANY, Ga. - With 54 years of collective service between them, two Detachment 2, Supply Company, 4th Supply Battalion Marines retired from the Corps on its 237th birthday at Schmid Field here in front of fellow Marines, friends and families, Nov. 10.
First Sgt. James Watson and Master Sgt. Mark Clark received Meritorious Service Medals, certificates of retirement, letters of appreciation from President Barack Obama; Gen. James Amos, commandant of the Marine Corps; Sgt. Maj. Micheal Barrett, sergeant major of the Marine Corps; and national ensigns for their faithful service.
Their families received certificates of appreciation from Col. Don Davis, commanding officer, Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany.
Marines who served with them rendered accolades and recounted memories of the two as well as thanked them for their dedicated service to the Corps and the nation.
Retired Col. Phil Harmon has known Watson for more than 20 years and served with him in Iraq and Afghanistan. He portrayed the first sergeant as very caring, very devoted and one who always took care of his Marines.
“I want to wish First Sergeant Watson the very best as he transitions into his new career,” Harmon said. “(He is) leaving something behind he loves. On behalf of the United States Marine Corps, I want to say thank you sir for a job well done.”
Watson enlisted in the Marine Corps in October 1984 and has served in every Marine Corps division. His service took him to Okinawa, Japan; Bangui, Central African Republic; Rome, Italy; Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii; Iraq; Afghanistan and the Philippines during his nearly three-decade career.
Watson thanked his wife, Stacey, and sons, Ryan and Adam, as well as several other Marines for supporting him and serving with him.
“These were all people (who) were a part of my life (who) have shaped and developed me so I could shape and develop the future of our Corps,” he said. “(I) had some wonderful times. (The) Marine Corps has been very good to me and my family.”
Chief Warrant Officer 5 Samuel Hammonds, engineering officer, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C., described Clark as a dear friend of his as well as a true professional and a true warrior. They served together in Iraq as well.
“We grew up together,” Hammonds said. “In 2003, our paths crossed in the Marine Corps (General Support Maintenance Company). It was an honor to serve with Mark not only as a friend but also as a professional Marine.”
Clark also joined the Marine Corps in 1984. He served in the Far East and Iraq as well as at various installations around the United States. At Det. 2, he has served as the senior enlisted advisor to six officers-in-charge.
“I say thanks to my (mother Sandy, daughters, Chelsea and Megan), my friends and the warriors I have served with,” Clark said. “It’s been an absolute pleasure for me to serve the Marine Corps as a Reserve Marine. I love the Marine Corps. I love all of my Marines I have served with. It’s been an honor to serve with the officers above me (and) mentor those below me. (To) the staff noncommissioned officers I have worked with and worked for, thank you. It’s been an enjoyable career.”
Both Watson and Clark described ending their service as bittersweet but fitting on the Marine Corps birthday.
“(It’s) an actual honor,” Watson said. “(I) picked the Marine Corps birthday because I wanted to remember not only the Marine Corps but a special occasion for myself and my family. Without them I could never have done this.
“I had to pick a day I would treasure for the rest of my life, and so to honor all Marines past, present and future, I wanted to recognize the Marine Corps birthday as well,” he added.
“It’s an absolutely wonderful day to retire after 28 years of service,” Watson said. “I have had some great people in my life who mentored me to become the person I am as a Marine.”
In the next chapter of his life, Watson noted he plans on supporting Marines and the future of the nation’s military.
“The Marine Corps birthday is such as a great tradition throughout history and it’s just an honor to retire on the birthday of the Marine Corps,” Clark said.
He will support warfighters wherever his company, Jacobs Engineering in Albany, sends him.