USS AMERICA, AT SEA – A Marine born in Trinidad has a chance to reconnect with his past when distinguished guests from Trinidad and Tobago board the future amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6), July 25, to tour the ship.
Staff Sgt. Daren Clarke, an administrative chief with Marine Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron 22, serving in direct support of Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force South, moved to the U.S. from Trinidad with his parents when he was 12 years old.
“I moved to America when I was really young,” said Clarke, a 34-year-old from Queens, N.Y. “I joined the Marine Corps after high school so I haven’t had the chance to go back to Trinidad yet, but I hope to go back there soon.”
Clarke expressed his fond memories of Trinidad and the people who live there. He said he remembers how genuinely nice everyone is.
“I remember it being really hot there,” Clarke said. “Everyone is really friendly though. People will come up and talk to one another even if they were strangers.”
Clarke joined the Marine Corps after he graduated from Thomas Edison High School in 1999, following in the footsteps of his two older brothers who are also Marines. He takes great pride in his billet as the administrative chief during the ships transit.
“What I do in support of SPMAGTF-South is keep track of personnel and make sure everyone is getting paid,” Clarke said. “It’s very rewarding to know that I make sure Marines get their money because if they have pay problems, that money won’t make it to their families and they can’t pay their bills. It’s nice to know that I help prevent that.”
America is currently traveling through the U.S. Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet area of responsibility on her maiden transit, “America Visits the Americas.” America is the first ship of its class, replacing the Tarawa-Class amphibious assault ships. As the next generation “big-deck” amphibious assault ship, America is optimized for aviation, capable of supporting current and future aircraft such as the MV-22 Osprey and F-35B Joint Strike Fighter. The ship is scheduled to be commissioned Oct. 11 in San Francisco.