MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- "She has been a wonderful asset to the LINKS program, because she understands the needs of the military spouse and a service
member, because she has been on both sides-which is rare," explained Taber, a LINKS affiliate for four years.
Since Clarke doesn't advertise her husband's rank or her own when attending Combat Center functions, Taber said it was close
to two months before she knew the rank and title of Clarke's husband.
"Sandy is fun, has an amazing sense of humor, is very approachable and warm," said Taber. "I remember when a spouse had a
question at LINKS and Sandy told her, 'I'll get back to you with an answer.' The next day she said, 'I talked to the
sergeant major last night...' and it took everyone by surprise. She was always known to everybody as Sandy regardless of her
"You knew she was a spouse, but you couldn't tell in a million years she was the wife of the base sergeant major," added
Simpson. "She projects herself as just one of the girls. She completely blows the stereotypes of senior enlisted's wives
and officers' wives."
Clarke was also active in sports, including a team member in the Women's Intramural Volleyball team in 2003 and played
side-by-side with her husband, Sgt. Maj. Steven Clarke, Combat Center sergeant major, on a coed spring softball team.
Speaking from their own experiences and the example they have seen from Clarke, Cowdrey, Simpson and Taber attest to her
accomplishments as a leader, companion and friend while aboard the Combat Center.
"As military spouses, we share a special camaraderie because we live a unique, wonderful, yet sometimes challenging
lifestyle, that not everyone understands," said Cowdrey. "There is strength in numbers and we depend on each other for
support and friendship, especially during deployments. Sandy was always there for me. We laughed, cried and experienced so
much together. We shared many fun times, and I know our friendship will last a lifetime. She is more than a dear, dear
friend. She is actually like a sister. I feel like I have known her my entire life."
Clarke and her husband are moving to Florida, where they will start new careers in real estate.
"She comes across as a very genuine person, so I think she is going to do fabulously in whatever endeavor," stressed Taber.
"She does the right things for the right reasons. We're wishing her a good time in her retirement, because she's earned it."
Although Clarke is leaving, the impact she had here aboard the Combat Center will not soon fade.
"She has been a constant source of support, and I could count on her any time of the day or night," said Cowdrey. "We were
extremely blessed to have Sandy here with us for the past two years. She is the greatest. I will miss her leadership,
guidance, expertise, companionship and most of all, her smile."