Marine Lance Cpl. Philip P. Clark
Died May 18, 2010 serving during Operation Enduring Freedom
19, of Gainesville, Fla.; assigned to 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.; died May 18 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.
(The following was taken from mysanantonio.com of May 20, 2010) Marine Lance Cpl. Philip P. Clark and his wife, Ashton, were making big plans for his return from Afghanistan this summer.
“We had a lot of plans and wanted kids. He wanted to have a baby as soon as he got home, and we were talking about that,” she said. “He wanted a girl, and we were going to name her Olivia Marie.”
The Clarks were a very young couple, married in a simple courthouse ceremony with a pair of Marine buddies at their side but sure of where they were headed and so close to each other they could finish each other's sentences.
But their future ended Tuesday when Clark, 19, of Gainesville, Fla., was killed by a mine while on patrol in Marjah.
Ashton Clark, 19, of San Antonio said late Wednesday that his death still was difficult to fathom even after she watched six Marines carry her husband's flag-draped transfer case off a jet at Dover AFB, Del., earlier in the afternoon.
“I can't really still believe it, kind of still in denial,” conceded Clark, a San Antonio native and 2009 graduate of Clark High School. “I just couldn't believe he was inside there.”
Few details are known about the attack, but Clark said two other Marines in her husband's unit also were killed. As an investigation continues, the family is planning services at Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Gainesville.
A native of Jackson, Miss., and longtime Gainesville resident, Clark liked being the center of attention. He was the class clown from grade school though Marine Corps basic training after graduating in 2008 from Buchholz High in Gainesville. Drill instructors would laugh when they were supposed to keep a straight face.
“He was always the life of the party. He was somebody who everybody wanted to be around,” said his father, Mike Clark, 43, a Gainesville sales representative. “If somebody was having a bad day, he could turn their day around just by being around him.”
Humor was an inborn trait, but so, too, was Philip Clark's desire to serve in the military. He came from a military family — a grandfather who was an Air Force colonel and two uncles who also were airmen.
As a toddler, Clark dressed up as a soldier or airman, and in high school he was in Air Force ROTC until deciding to join the Marines in his senior year.
That was a surprise.
“When I asked him, he said, ‘I just want to be the best of the best,'” Mike Clark explained.
Driven by his dream, armed by ROTC drills that began with a ninth-grade summer camp and strengthened by football and weightlifting, Clark was ready when boot camp began in June 2008.
“He had big shoulders, big arms, a big chest, but he was little,” Ashton Clark said. “He was short, but a big guy for a short guy.”
Clark was an infantryman, devoted to his job and a man who liked to be on the point. His dad said that like most 19-year-olds, he lived for the day. But if a jokester, he also was mature and a careful planner.
Before they married Oct. 12 at the Onslow County Courthouse in Jacksonville, N.C., three months after being introduced by a friend, Ashton took a plane from San Antonio to meet him. At the hotel, Clark asked her to go into the bathroom.
“And I came out of the bathroom and there were candles lit and music playing,” she said, recalling the song was “You Had Me From Hello” by country singer Kenny Chesney. “And he got on one knee and said a couple of things and pulled out the ring.”
They kept talking on the phone and via computer. He was expecting to return home in July. They'd put a deposit on a house near Camp Lejeune, N.C., and Ashton planned to get there a month before he got back, furnishing it.
They talked of babies and made a deal. Philip got to choose the first name if they had a girl and the middle name if it was a boy. And they had one other thing on their to-do list when he came home.
“We planned to have a big wedding when he got home next summer, but ...,” Ashton said, her voice fading. “We just got married before he left because we wanted to be married before he was gone.”