Finished with dinner at home Thursday, after his first full day as a lieutenant general, a Georgetown native spoke about the duty that he and everyone in the armed forces share.
“We serve a high purpose, serving the nation,” the Marine Corps’ H. Stacy Clardy III said by phone from suburban Washington, D.C. “I think we do a pretty good job at that, and I’m very proud to be an American, and to have served in the Marine Corps for 34 years.”
Clardy said the pinning ceremony for the third star on his collar — following through on U.S. Senate voice-vote approval Monday for his nomination — was Wednesday at the residence of the Marine Corps commandant, Gen. Robert B. Neller, at the Marine Barracks in Washington.
“It was pretty unique, actually,” Clardy said of the setting, grateful for the hospitality extended to “friends and family.”
Clardy said this new position transfers him from being the J8 deputy director for force management, application and support on the Joint Staff, to the office staff for retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, secretary of the U.S. Department of Defense.
Regarding how his job duties will shift as the military deputy for the Pentagon’s Office of the Under Secretary for Personnel and Readiness, Clardy was eager to see, “because I imagine it’ll be different.”
“I just checked in today,” he said Thursday, “so we’ll find out.”
The main role of the military deputy, as stated in a Pentagon overview, is serving as “senior military adviser” in that tier, focusing on “total force management” regarding readiness.
A Pentagon biography on Clardy includes his commanding the 3d Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion in Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, in the wake of the terrorist attacks from Sept. 11, 2001.
Asked about his career around the globe, what view of a place was changed the most in his mind after living on site, Clardy said Okninawa, Japan, home to seven Marine Corps camps. He said this semi-tropical, west Pacific island, which takes 24 hours to reach by air travel, measures about 60 miles “tip to tip.”
“It has the feel of a resort island,” he said. “The people there are so friendly, and it kind of feels like a home away from home.”
Happy to recline on Pawleys Island trips
Clardy said working in the Pentagon the past two years has kept him stateside, mainly “up and down the East Coast.”
Getaways to Pawleys Island work out about every 2-3 months, he said, happy to keep southern Grand Strand photos and other homeland reminders wherever he has lived.
Clardy, 56, said he has no aspirations “beyond what I’m doing right now.”
“I didn’t think I would be in the military this long,” he said. “I thought I would have retired a long time ago. It’s one day at a time, one year at a time.”
He said he and wife, Alison, celebrated their 23rd anniversary this year, and as the conversation steered briefly to their three adult daughters — including two enrolled at the University of South Carolina.
Clardy’s widowed father, H. Stacy Clardy Jr. of Pawleys Island, retired as a Navy captain with more than a quarter-century of service. Clardy Jr. said that during his time stationed in Charleston, his son was born at Georgetown Memorial Hospital, and the family lived across the Eastern Seaboard, going as far northeast as Halifax, Nova Scotia, for two years in an exchange program.
The elder Clardy said his son achieved Eagle Scout’s rank as a youth, leading to a life that has unfolded, always at “the right place, right time.” He also thinks Clardy III is the first-ever, three-star general to hail from Georgetown County.
The lieutenant general said on every return to Pawleys Island, he loves the friendly, “genuine” nature of people he encounters.
“That’s part of the Lowcountry,” Clardy III said, also thanking the Palmetto State for remaining “a great source of support to the military, particularly the Marine Corps.”
Contact Steve Palisin at 843-444-1764.