MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- The U.S. Marine Corps Special Operations Command bid farewell to one commander and welcomed another during a ceremony aboard Stone Bay at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Aug. 6.
Major Gen. Mark A. Clark relinquished command of MARSOC to Maj. Gen. Joseph L. Osterman before a crowd of nearly 400 inside the MARSOC headquarters auditorium.
Clark, who began his career as a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter pilot, retired from the Marine Corps after 34 years on active duty.
Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James F. Amos attended the ceremony and thanked Clark for his faithful and dedicated service. Amos appointed Clark commander at a ceremony here in 2012 and praised the command's achievements during Clark's tenure.
"You are one of the most humble, genuine, God-fearing men I have ever met," said Amos. "I had the privilege of putting you in this command and you have shined like a new penny."
Admiral William H. McRaven, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, was in attendance and echoed Amos' praise of Clark.
"When you look back over the last 34 years, your contributions to SOF, to the Corps and to the Nation have been extraordinary and those contributions have set the foundation for the future of Marines in SOF," said McRaven.
Clark graduated from South Dakota State University and received his commission as a second lieutenant in June 1981. His first tour landed him with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 464 where he served as a pilot and then in billets including adjutant, flight line officer, weapons and tactics instructor, and assistant operations officer.
Clark's recent billets include the director of operations at U.S. Special Operations Command from 2009-2011 and as the chief of staff at SOCOM from 2011-2012.
Clark's assignments have taken him on deployments to the Mediterranean Sea, Iraq, Haiti, Bosnia and Afghanistan.
As Clark said goodbye, he thanked the Marines at MARSOC.
"This command has done such tremendous things," said Clark. "Everyone in this organization gave everything they had, every day. And so I thank you for that."
Under Clark's tenure, MARSOC continued to contribute directly to overseas contingency operations and has conducted missions in more than 15 nations. These missions include partner nation training, security assistance and subject matter expert guidance.
Osterman takes command following a tour in Afghanistan from December 2012 to March 2014 as the deputy chief of staff, joint operations, with International Security Assistance Force, and then as the deputy commanding general at Marine Corps Combat Development Command in Quantico, Virginia.
McRaven said when the Commandant recommended Osterman to serve as the MARSOC commander, he knew the command was "getting an exceptional man and an exceptional Marine.
"I could not be happier you are taking the helm," said McRaven. "We will need your experience, your talent and your leadership to continue to make MARSOC one of the finest commands in the Corps and within SOCOM."
Osterman received his commission as a second lieutenant through the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps Program at the University of Colorado, Boulder. After completing the Basic School and the Infantry Officer Course in 1982, Osterman started his career as a rifle platoon commander with 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division.
Osterman has deployed in support of operations to Somalia; Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; Iraq and Afghanistan.
He said he hopes to continue the work Clark has done at MARSOC and that it is a phenomenal privilege for him and his family to join the unit.
"We look forward to working with all of the members of the command," said Osterman. "To Major General Clark, I want to say thank you for everything you have done and I look forward to carrying on the legacy."
Osterman is the fifth MARSOC commander since the unit was officially established in 2006.