NORTH TONAWANDA – North Tonawanda Alderman-at-Large Robert J. Clark was honored this week for his selection to the New York State Veterans Hall of Fame.
Clark’s accomplishments span a military career of four decades and include action in the Vietnam War and the Middle East.
During a recent North Tonawanda Council meeting, Clark received a standing ovation from friends, family, fellow veterans and Council members. State Sen. George Maziarz, R-Newfane, was on hand to announce the award. Clark remained humble in his acceptance of the award.
“Every single veteran whom I’ve invited here has probably done something in their military career that makes them deserving of this same award,” he said.
Clark is active in the veterans community as a member of the Marine Corps League, Vietnam Vets, Navy Seabees, American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars.
He also is a member of the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor and the local John Paul Bobo Purple Heart Chapter 264, and was instrumental in placing a monument in Veterans Park dedicated to Purple Heart recipients. Both Clark and his daughter, Elena, who was wounded in Afghanistan, have received Purple Hearts.
Of the Purple Heart Chapter members, he said, “You took one for the United States and you are still here saying, ‘What else can I do?”
Maziarz noted that each year, state senators are asked to choose an outstanding veteran from their districts. Maziarz’s district stretched from Niagara Falls east to Rochester.
“It was an honor for me to honor one of our own for that great honor,” said Maziarz. “Western New York native Bob Clark had a nearly 40-year career of continuous and notable military service.”
Clark served in Vietnam with the Navy from 1965 to 1970 and was awarded a Bronze Star for heroism and Purple Heart while assisting injured Marines. He also served for 25 years in the Navy Reserve and New York State Naval Militia, rising to the rank of command master chief.
Clark then served with the 105th Medical Squad of the New York Air National Guard and was deployed to ground zero after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. He was deployed to the Middle East six times, retiring from the Air Force as a chief master sergeant. He also served as a senior enlisted adviser to the New York Naval Militia following his federal service, retiring from that position in 2003.
Maziarz, who called Clark’s service “impressive,” noted that even though Clark’s service took him to many corners of the globe, he is proud to call North Tonawanda his home.
“It’s been a privilege to have known Bob for the past five years. This man has given the bulk of his life to serving and defending this country and is still serving his community as alderman,” said North Tonawanda Mayor Robert G. Ortt.