A delegation of active and retired Navy chief petty officers will honor one of the nation’s oldest World War II chiefs at his 100th birthday celebration in Centreville this Saturday. Chief Petty Officer Jewel “Wayne” Clark, who served his country in war and peacetime, will be feted at 3 p.m. at his home in Centreville. The uniformed delegation will sing Happy Birthday, and present Chief Clark with a letter of appreciation.
Retired Senior Chief Guy Beckley, of Millington, Maryland, one of the organizers of Saturday’s event, says it is an honor to participate in the celebration.
“Chief Petty Officer Clark might be the oldest living chief who served during World War II and it’s a high honor for us Chiefs—and for me personally—to not only honor his service, but also to mark his 100th birthday,” said Beckley. “There aren’t many of these guys around, so to have a chief with such a storied career right here on the Eastern Shore is truly something special.”
Clark’s service to his country began in the 1930s as part of the Civilian Conservation Corps. He joined the Navy in 1939 and served aboard the USS Herbert (DD-160) during World War II. The destroyer escorted merchant ships in the Atlantic Ocean, launching depth charge attacks on marauding U-boats. After modifications, the Herbert saw duty in the Pacific, protecting and landing troops in the final days of the war. The ship earned six battle stars for its efforts.
During his distinguished career, Clark received numerous decorations, including the Bronze Star and was promoted to chief petty officer in 1950.
In 1960, Chief Clark was awarded the Commendation Medal by the Navy Secretary for “outstanding performance of duty” for his role in a daring humanitarian rescue mission of 285 missionaries, doctors and nurses from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Chief Clark later became a naval attache at the U.S. Embassy in Rome, Italy.
Following more than two decades of distinguished service in a Navy uniform, Clark continued his career at the National Security Agency (NSA) for another 20 years.
Chief petty officers, who are senior noncommissioned officers, are a unique fraternity in the Navy. The grade was established in 1893 to act as a bridge between officers and enlisted personnel. Admiral William F. “Bull” Halsey, a World War II hero, lauded their contributions, saying that no one taught him more about ships than a chief petty officer. “People think ships float on water, but they’re wrong…ships are carried on the backs of those Chief Petty Officers,” Halsey said.
The Naval Academy will be represented by Command Master Chief Karim Cole and Senior Chief Cassandra Towsen. They’ll be accompanied by a delegation of eight selectees, First Class Petty Officers who have been selected to advance to Chief Petty Officers, and their CPO sponsors.
“We’re very much looking forward to meeting Chief Petty Officer Clark’s, celebrating his birthday and honoring his distinguished service in the United States Navy,” said Senior Chief Towsen
[Observers are asked to wear protective masks and to stay socially distant.]
Contact: Senior Chief (Ret.), Guy Beckley at 410-708-9585 for additional information