Life in Military Intelligence

Imagine having a work-life under some of the most restrictive and tightly secured conditions in the United States government. Every morning you check into a windowless facility with layers of security, often with a concertina-wired perimeter, and spend the majority of your workday away from sunlight, sorting through numerous safe combinations, passwords, and documents of the highest sensitive nature. You come home day after day, deprived of those intimate conversations with your spouse about the details of your day. You must harbor secrets that if ever shared with those you love would create breach of security ending one’s career, and if placed in the wrong hands, could compromise the security of our national defense.

Though it may sound like a lifestyle familiar only to big screen stars from your favorite suspense movie, it was very much a reality for over 20 years of LTC(RET) Ervin Clark, Jr.’s military career. “Truly it was an honor to fulfill this commitment but operating in the world of Military Intelligence for years upon years is a story that can only be told by those who live it,” he shares. So how does a person even begin to embark on such a journey, you might ask.

For Mr. Clark, it began as early as college, Arkansas Tech University (ATU) in Russellville, to be precise. He began his affiliation during his college freshman year through the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) and contracted with the US Army during his junior year. However, he did not commission until graduation day, May 15, 1987, where he was selected as a Distinguished Military Graduate (DMG) which typically assures ROTC graduates the selection for Active Duty (AD) vice Reserves. When the time came to review his military career options, Mr. Clark stated, “Aviation and Medical careers speak for themselves in private sector; but, I knew that a career in Military Intelligence (MI) would greatly challenge my cognitive discipline as well as my physical capacity. Besides, the thought of possibly working covertly – intrigued me.”

It came as no surprise that Mr. Clark openly embraced the challenges that lied within a life in the armed forces, for military service truly ran deep in the roots of his family tree. “I believe I was being indirectly groomed while hearing stories about my dad’s – Ervin B. Clark, Sr. (deceased) – service in the Korean War during the Battle of Heart Break Ridge and the service of his five brothers during World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War,” he explained. The veteran connection not only ran vertically but paralleled with the service of his sister Lynette Clark-Spencer (prior US Army via ROTC) and two brothers, Dwight Jones (deceased) and Derwin Clark who served in the Air Force and Army National Guard.

After graduating from ATU, the 2LT Clark reported to the UALR ROTC department in the fall of 1987 as a Gold Bar Recruiter before proceeding to his Officer Basic Course (OBC) for Military Intelligence in Fort Huachuca, Arizona. In this new role, his passion for leading and shaping people would first begin to blossom as he guided college and high school students who would consider the military as their career path or part-time as a citizen-warrior.

In January 1990, then 1LT Clark left for his first deployment for Operations Desert Shield/Storm (DS/DS) tasked with the assignment of Communications Platoon Leader of the 101st Military Intelligence (Communications Electronics Warfare Intelligence) Battalion as part of First Infantry Division (Big Red One). Thereafter, Mr. Clark experienced what he called the first “ah-ha” moment in his career under Colonel Anthony Moreno – then Commander of 2d Infantry Brigade Mechanized – who characterized himself as a “tough barefoot Hawaiian.” For validating his intelligence officers reliability since his tours in Vietnam, Colonel Moreno used a unique technique encompassing an aerial reconnaissance of extensive forested terrain. With only a map, now Captain Clark was challenged with identifying the land laid out below him in only 30 seconds. “This was the equivalent of peering out the window of an airplane and identifying the exact location below,” Mr. Clark explains. “This was both a life and career game-changer for me as he was examining my skills pertinent to the credibility, trust, and success required of any intelligence officer. His leadership and trust greatly enhanced my intelligence career!”

LTC(RET) Ervin Clark, Jr. with Tuskegee Airmen Milton Crenshaw

He deployed for the second time in February 2003 for Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) as the Operations Officer for the Crisis Intelligence Center at Joint Analysis Center (European Command). For the third and final time, Mr. Clark deployed August 2009 for Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) as the Commander of United States National Intelligence Cell in Pristina, Kosovo. Little did he know this deployment would include a Christmas Eve accident that resonates deep inside him: however, tragedy would turn to survival. “My military contractor who sustained seven major injuries, three being life critical, received the blessing of life as he survived 22 hours of massive internal bleeding and two Medevac and one MediLift flight from Kosovo to Germany without surgery,” he describes. After experiencing victory in spite of such discouraging circumstances, how can anything be said but, “How great is our God!”

Not too long after, Mr. Clark retired and now manages ERVSON ENT LLC, a veteran-owned small business focusing on ensuring and protecting the rights of individuals, businesses, and corporate workforce. He started the business during his last 12 years of service along with his wife, Sonja, who operated it from home. You can hear the pride in his voice as he discusses his work, “I introduce our revolutionary affordable nationwide legal plans (Law Firms engaging the trivial to traumatic) as a robust addition to any company benefit package which increases productivity, reduces absenteeism, and helps re-establish US workers as the most dependable value-added asset to this global economy. We encourage companies, consumers, and veterans to let us, LegalShield, be their ‘game-changer’!”

As someone who has spent his entire life displaying excellent leadership and passion for guiding others down the road of success, his closing remarks include a few heartfelt words for his fellow veterans:

“Thanks to those who paved the way and those now becoming freedom pioneers! You are very much appreciated and each of you are heroes in your own way. Although not always apparent or spoken, your sacrifice and service has made an unimaginable and invaluable impact in the lives of others. Not one day of your patriotic service is in vain. Though your military service may have concluded, we know that your “battle” has just begun. Continue to fight the tough fight and you will reap your rewards. Well done, Duty First!”

Comments

Briuna Clark 17-02-2013, 19:17

This is a beautiful and inspiring article on Ervin Clark Jr. Looking at the works and efforts he has put in, I can definitely tell the saying, “Hard Work Does Pay off!” is unlike any other! For an education, dedication, and determination is the key to success!:)
Great Work LTC Clark!

Reply
Ronnie Smith 18-02-2013, 22:36

It is great to read the story of an African-American who has served in the intelligence field. This story reminded me of the years in (Marine Corp) counter intelligence field when I reported to my office which was behind a huge vault door and I was unable to discuss my work with friends or family. Again it is great to hear of your experiences.

Reply
Pastor and First Lady Clyde Sherpell 23-02-2013, 23:44

Ervin, Jr., this article is wonderful. The Shepells (Texas) are simply proud of the career path you choose and walked in for 20+ years serving our Country. Pastor Sherpell and I really enjoyed this article, so touching. We know your family must be thankful/proud as to how our God kept his hands over you during your military stay. While you have certainly grown into manhood, we yet remember and see the younger Ervin from Allport. We pray God’s continual blessings upon your and family’s life.

Reply
Brianna Clark 26-02-2013, 07:27

The scripture I Corinthians 16:13 Truly captures the essence of my uncle Jr. and of what he has accomplished!
“Be on your guard; stand in the faith; be men if courage; be strong”

Reply

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