Please register to access this FREE content.
Benedictine College honored all U.S. military personnel during its “Stars & Stripes” Celebration on Saturday, September 16, during halftime of the home football game against Peru State University on its Atchison, Kansas, campus. Benedictine College President Stephen D. Minnis presented the St. Martin of Tours Award, named for the patron saint of soldiers, to retired General Richard D. Clarke, former commander of the U.S. Special Operations and a graduate of Benedictine’s Executive MBA program. It was Benedictine’s 16th recognition of active duty, reservist and veteran men and women in the U.S. military.
Before the game, a huge Boeing KC-46 Pegasus aerial refueling and strategic military transport performed a flyover. In addition to the award presentation, the halftime show included performances by the Raven Dance Team and the Raven Regiment Marching Band. The band put on an extravaganza that featured elaborate, animated formations along with the anthems of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard. It all culminated with the dramatic unfurling of a huge, 60-foot American flag to the playing of “America, the Beautiful.”
Clarke spent some time on the college campus, addressing a leadership class on Friday and talking to the football players on Saturday ahead of the game. He spoke of the “Four Cs,” which he defined as Care, Character, Communication, and Continuing Education.
For Care, he recommended that leaders get to know their people. “They don’t care what you know until they know you care,” he said.
For Character, he said leaders must practice what they preach, and for Communication, he told them to be clear and concise and communicate often. “When you think you are communicating clearly, double your efforts,” Clarke said.
He also said leaders should have a personal growth plan and should help provide leadership and personal development opportunities for their people. He also recommended reading a lot. “If you want new ideas, read old books,” he said.
Army ROTC, which is available at Benedictine College, is known as one of the best leadership programs in the country. Army ROTC cadets are eligible to compete for national scholarships as well as campus-based scholarships to cover tuition and fees. Benedictine College has taken the additional step to permit Army ROTC scholarship recipients to apply their institutional scholarship toward their room and board. The college recently invested in the program by providing permanent space in Cray Seaberg Hall and $5000 for Rogue fitness equipment for the unit to use in its physical training.
General Clarke has led soldiers at all levels in Airborne, Ranger, Mechanized and Light Infantry units in five different Army Divisions, the 173rd Airborne Brigade, and the 75th Ranger Regiment in the United States, Europe, Iraq and Afghanistan. His deployments include Operation Desert Shield, Operation Desert Storm, Operation Joint Guardian in Macedonia, Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and as commander of the Combined Joint Forces Land Component – Operation Inherent Resolve.
He served as the 12th Commander of U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida, from 2019 to 2022. Prior to assuming command of USSOCOM, he served as Director for Strategic Plans and Policy, Joint Staff, the Pentagon, Washington, D.C. Other assignments as a general officer include Deputy Commanding General for Operations, 10th Mountain Division; the 74th Commandant of Cadets, United States Military Academy at West Point, and the Commander of the 82nd Airborne Division. He recently retired from military service and is now serving as a director for General Dynamics.
Clarke was born in Germany and was raised in an Army family. He is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, and was commissioned into the Infantry in 1984. He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree from West Point and a Master of Business Administration from Benedictine College. He is also a distinguished graduate of the National War College, earning a Master’s Degree in Security and Strategic Studies. He and his wife, Suzanne, have been married for more than 35 years and have two adult children, Madeleine and Will.