More than 2,000 Sailors and Marines are currently embarked aboard amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4). But only one member of the crew can lay claim to the titles of both Boxer Sailor and Marine.
Quartermaster 2nd Class Aaron Clark began his military career by enlisting in the Marine Corps in 2013. He served six years as a light-armored vehicle (LAV) crewman in the 1st Light Armored Recon Battalion, learning how to drive the LAV and completing scout school where he qualified as a rifleman. That training eventually led him aboard Boxer in October 2015, years before his tour aboard the ship as a Sailor.
“When I was embarking on the ship as a Marine, I was honestly very attracted to, and impressed that, so many different parts of the ship worked as one,” said Clark. “I was very interested in the operations of how the Boxer would get my Marines [and me] to the beach to handle the mission at hand.”
During his first tour aboard Boxer, Clark integrated into Boxer’s blue-green team as he embarked aboard a Navy landing craft, air cushion for amphibious operations, and served as a food service attendant in the mess decks.
After serving six years in the Marine Corps, Clark made the transition into the civilian world, shifting his focus to his family and a career working in homeland security. Shortly after, Clark felt a pull to enlist back into active duty. In 2019, he continued his military career by enlisting in the U.S. Navy and taking on the title of a Sailor.
“I underestimated the switch,” said Clark. “It’s a whole new world.”
While Clark experienced many differences after his switch to the Navy, his first duty station as a Sailor was a very familiar place—Boxer.
“When I got orders to Boxer, it felt like greeting an old friend,” said Clark. “It made my transition much easier.”
While the ship was familiar to him, serving as a Sailor was a new experience.
“For so long my mission was purely ground combat like hand-to-hand, rifles and weapon systems,” said Clark. “Everything was so different. After getting my [enlisted surface warfare pin] I learned about so many areas of combat that I wasn’t privy to before.”
A Quartermaster’s job is to assist the ship’s officer of the deck in safely navigating the seas and directly represent the navigator on the bridge. With his attention to detail and strive to complete the mission at hand, this job for a prior Marine couldn’t be more perfect.
“Without question, QM2 Clark sees every task requested of him to its completion,” said Senior Chief Quartermaster Henry Nicol, Navigation Department’s leading chief petty officer and assistant Navigator.
The Sailors that work with Clark are also happy to have him as part of their team.
“I love having a leader that is engaged not only about his work, but his military appearance and the care of his Sailors,” said Quartermaster 3rd Class Jacklyn Lopez. “He looks out for each and every one of his Sailors from [preventative maintenance system] checks, to daily work lists and shipboard preservation.”
Clark has had different responsibilities in his roles onboard Boxer in the Navy and Marine Corps, but says no matter what branch, the mission is priority.
“At the end of the day, we all have the same mission, and that mission is to protect and defend what we’ve earned as a nation. I’ll fight that fight with anyone that volunteered to raise their right hand,” said Clark.
The Boxer Amphibious Ready Group, comprised of Boxer, USS Somerset (LPD 25), and USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49), and the embarked 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit are underway conducting integrated training and routine operations in U.S. 3rd Fleet.
|KANSAS CITY, MO, US