SACRAMENTO, CA, USA U.S. Army SGT, HHC, 1ST BN, 8TH INFANTRY, 3 BRIGADE COMBAT TEAM, FORT CARSON, CO MOSUL, IRAQ 10/07/2008
Not long after the birth of his son Lucas, now 4, Clark joined the Army to provide for his family. “He grew up without a father,” his mother said. “It was extremely important to him to be the best dad he could be.” As a soldier, Clark proved fearless, honest, generous and unafraid to speak his mind.
“He was always so motivated,” said Sgt. 1st Class Edward Maldonado, who served with Clark. “You could tell it rubbed off onto other soldiers. . . . He would sort of become their role model, because no matter what the situation was, he would always make it seem like it wasn’t as bad as most soldiers would see it to be.”
Maldonado remembers Clark as a fun-loving warrior who shared a passion for Ford Mustangs, but stood out most for his devotion to family: “He would talk about how much he loved his wife, Nalini.” And “any time you saw Sgt. Clark while off duty he had his son stuck right next to him, wherever he went,” Maldonado said.
On his final deployment, he kept in touch with regular e-mails, once reassuring his family by saying it had been months since he had fired his gun. After Clark died at 24, his father, who left when he was the same age, played a final role. Bradley Clark, a pilot who works for a Defense Department contractor that brings home deceased soldiers, requested to be part of the crew that would transport his son’s body.
When he brought his son back to Sacramento, news reports quoted him as saying: “I’m sad but proud and thank him for the service he’s done for our country.” Contacted by The Times at his Michigan home, he declined to be interviewed. Mike Clark’s wife said her husband wanted most to be a hero to their only child.
“Mike wanted to teach him how to be a boy, and do boy stuff with him,” she said. “He wanted to be there for Lucas.”