Captain James L. Clark was born in Tampa, Florida and was the longest serving line officer on active duty in the United States Navy. In 1967, at the age of seventeen he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and advanced to Chief Petty Officer in 1976. Early in his career, he began taking college courses onboard ship. Later, while serving as a Recruit Company Commander in Orlando, Florida, he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Business from Florida Southern College. Captain Clark was commissioned through Officer Candidate School in 1978. He holds a Master's Degree in Education from Old Dominion University. Captain Clark was a 2002 graduate of the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School.
At sea, he has served aboard USS SOLEY (DD 707), USS BLUE RIDGE (LCC 19). After commissioning, he served aboard USS RATHBURNE (FF 1057) as Combat Information Center Officer, Anti-Submarine Warfare and First Lieutenant Division Officers; USS BARNEY (DDG 6) as Weapons Officer; and USS SOUTH CAROLINA (CGN 37) as Combat Systems Officer. Then as a Lieutenant Commander, he moved to his first command, USS EXULTANT (MSO 441). Captain Clark and his crew transferred to USS LEADER (MSO 449) in the Arabian Gulf in December 1990 in support of Operations DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM. Captain Clark also commanded USS GUNSTON HALL (LSD 44) and USS TARAWA (LHA1).
Ashore, Captain Clark has served as Combat Systems Officer at Fleet Training Group, Pearl Harbor; attended the U.S. Army Command and Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas; served as Executive Assistant in the J5 Plans and Policy Directorate, U.S. Atlantic Command; and as Branch Head for Lieutenant Commander / Commander Assignments and later as Head, Washington Placement at the Bureau of Naval Personnel. Captain Clark was also at Amphibious Group Two as Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations and later as Chief of Staff. Captain Clark assumed command of USS Tarawa in Hong Kong on 21 January 2001. In November of 2002 he assumed duties as Chief of Staff to Commander, Amphibious Group THREE. He assumed command of Expeditionary Warfare Training Group, Pacific in August 2004.
Captain Clark's personal awards include the Legion of Merit (w/2Gold Star), Bronze Star with Combat "V", the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (6), the Navy Commendation Medal, the Navy Achievement Medal, Combat Action Ribbon (w/2 Gold Stars) and various other campaign, unit, and service awards. Captain Clark was the 1997 recipient of the James Bond Stockdale Award for Inspirational Leadership.
Captain Clark also served as the President of the San Diego Chapter of the Surface Navy Association (SNA) and later on the National Board of Directors.
Captain Clark is married to the former Brenda Brigman of Tampa, Florida who is a special education teacher. They have two sons, LCDR Tim Clark, USN and Matt Clark who is a high school special education teacher. Captain Clark retired the first of June 2009.