Battle Rattle

The singing Marine sergeant–and the recruiter who came through for him

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Marine veteran Dan Clark brought the house down at Fenway Park in Boston on Game One of the World Series Oct. 23 when he performed a rousing rendition of God Bless America during the Seventh Inning Stretch, clad in crisp dress blues.

“Marine Dan Clark just sang the best rendition of God Bless America I have ever heard! “ #icouldrunthroughawall” raved one tweeter.

The website Twitchy compiled a list of other five-star Twitter reviews.

Others wondered about his uniform and title: under his name on the TV broadcast, he was described as a “retired sergeant.” But the sleeves of his blues uniform showed two yellow hashmarks, indicating two four-year terms of service. And his awards rack just contained a Good Conduct ribbon and Expert rifle and pistol shooting badges.

Retired United States Marine Corps Sgt. Dan Clark sings “God Bless America” during the seventh inning stretch of Game 1 of baseball's World Series between the Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, in Boston. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Veteran United States Marine Corps Sgt. Dan Clark sings “God Bless America” during the seventh inning stretch of Game 1 of baseball’s World Series between the Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, in Boston. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

We caught up with Clark to learn his story.

Better known as “The Singing Trooper,” Clark, 53, has performed at over 2,500 sports events, and military and official functions, including many Red Sox games and 24 opening ceremonies of the Boston Marathon in his native Massachusetts.

The Singing Trooper performs God Bless America at Fenway Park for the playoffs, Oct. 2013. Photo courtesy Thesingingtrooper.com

A 20-year member of the Massachusetts state police, Clark did serve in the Marine Corps from 1980 to 1984, he said, leaving with an honorable discharge. Though he asked to go into the infantry, he said, he was assigned to avionics.

“I requested fixed-wing, West Coast, so of course they sent me to rotors, East Coast,” he said.

He served at Marine Corps Air Station New River, N.C. with what was then Marine Medium Helicopter Training Squadron 204, before receiving a transfer to then-Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 365, to work service CH-53 Sea Stallion choppers.

Though Clark said he traveled to the Arctic Circle for a war game and went on a shore float to Honduras during his tour, he said, he never was able to deploy. When the Marines turned down his request to go to the drill field, he decided to leave the Corps after four years of service.

He believes the use of “retired” in the chyron was a broadcast mistake and describes himself as “honorably discharged” on his website.

Marine Corps Times asked Marine officials for details of Clark’s official service dates and awards, but they did not provide the data by press time.

Oct. 23 was the first major event for which Clark has worn dress blues, he said, rather than the dark double-breasted “Prince Charles” dress uniform he usually wears. He said he did so at the behest of Major League Baseball, which wanted to honor veterans during the event.

But getting the blues required some footwork on his part.

“ I only had 18 hours to accomplish this,” he said. “Marine Corps dress blues are form fitted, and I have a body-builder body type.”

After a few leads fell through, somebody directed him to a recruiter in Saugus, Mass., Sgt. Jose Murillo.

“I go over and see this guy. It is like he’s my twin brother,” Clark said. “I put his blues on and it just fit me like a glove.”

The only problem? Murillo is a ten-year Marine and his blues had two hashmarks sewn into the sleeves. Clark said he couldn’t bring himself to rip out the extra service stripe.

Murillo, who has served five combat deployments, said he gave Clark the go-ahead anyway.

“I told him it wasn’t that big of a deal,” he said.

Thrilled, Clark called the Red Sox and got Murillo two tickets to the game. Murillo, who also showed up in full dress blues, accompanied him out to the field and gave him the final once-over before he sang.

“I escorted him on there and made sure he looked sharp in his uniform,” Murillo said. “I said ‘hey, I need to check you over before you go onto the field.’”

Clark said singing in his blues was an emotional experience, because of the dignity of the service he was representing. While in the Marines, he never told anyone about his previous musical and performing experience, because he felt it wasn’t his mission at the time, he said.

“I’m very animated, normally,” Clark said. “But I told myself, you are representing the United States Marine Corps. You will lock your body up.”

At the end of the song, he executed a crisp salute.

Though Clark has heard criticism here and there following his performance from those who saw the “retired” label and two hashmarks and thought he was misrepresenting himself, he said he could see putting on the blues again for select, meaningful performances.

“This year, the 25th anniversary of me performing at the Boston Marathon, you better believe I’m gonna step up on that stage in Marine Corps dress blues again,” he said. “I’m going to light that place up like never before.”

Comments

  1. Mrbitter Says:
    October 24th, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    What would SgtMaj Vines say?

  2. Tom Says:
    October 24th, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    “what would Sgt Maj. Vines say” LOL He was my DI. I’ve been out of the Corps for years and I keep hearing his name. Must be one hell of a Marine.

    As far as this Sgt. Clark goes, he represented himself well. Lets not jump his ass for the extra hash mark.

  3. Undertaker Says:
    October 24th, 2013 at 4:43 pm

    He is a Marine. We improvise, adapt, and overcome. He was asked to be in blues and he showed up in them. One stripe or two is not a big deal. I’ve done 100′s of events. I’ve seen pvt, PFC, and lcpl carry NCO swords. Exceptions are made when needed. Get over it. He did a great job and did the Corps proud. SemperFi

  4. Henry John Fivehawks Says:
    October 24th, 2013 at 5:49 pm

    Let it be. He didn’t claim anything, the press did. It was a “hollywood night”, and at least he represented the Marines beautifully. There are other Marines that embarrass us pretty darn badly (Okinawa Horse Shootings anyone?), so why get on this guy’s ass? Give him 5 hashmarks, and make him a SgtMaj for all I care. He represented us well. Thanks, Marines, for your guidance and brotherhood. Semper Fi, Never Die.

  5. Jerre Thomas Says:
    October 24th, 2013 at 7:24 pm

    Any Marine, or service member for that matter, knows better than to wear ANY uniform or uniform device that does not accurately represent their service. No excuses. None. Zero.

  6. kloops Says:
    October 24th, 2013 at 7:30 pm

    That kinda make me mad as he didnt EARN that uniform.

  7. Joshua Boston Says:
    October 24th, 2013 at 7:32 pm

    Hopefully he’ll be there wearing what he actually rates this time.

  8. Hugh Hawthorne Says:
    October 24th, 2013 at 7:33 pm

    It’s easy to hold hard and fast to the rule despite any circumstance. It takes good judgment to cut the slack at the appropriate time for the appropriate reason.

  9. Mrbitter Says:
    October 24th, 2013 at 7:48 pm

    And lets not forget they made Lee Emery an honorary GySgt even though he got out a SSgt.

  10. Eddie Says:
    October 24th, 2013 at 7:50 pm

    Are you guys retarded? He SERVED as a Marine. He EARNED his uniform, and he was using it for a noble cause. Get off his balls.

  11. Reggie Says:
    October 24th, 2013 at 7:58 pm

    kloops: wtf are you talking about he is a Marine, he did earn that uniform.

    Jerre T: And any Marine (I’m one) I know has no problem with this guy suiting up after 20 years, under short notice, and gives him a little slack. get over it.

    Josh: I’m sure he will…

    Hugh: much better said than my attempt

  12. Ben Pond Says:
    October 24th, 2013 at 8:03 pm

    I’m a retired Marine. I’m proud of the devil dog! He put GOD back in the GAME! Just by doing that, I’d award him an honorary hash mark. Thank you Sgt. Dan Clark and Semper Fidelis!

  13. Karen Kelley Says:
    October 24th, 2013 at 8:04 pm

    In the name of my father and 7 seven uncles who all served in different branches of service to the United States in WW2. I commend and salute and thank Dan Clark. They would be proud.

  14. Jay Says:
    October 24th, 2013 at 8:05 pm

    I agree with Hugh Hawthorne and Eddie – he does more for the Marine Corps publicity mission in his role now than the average Marine can accomplish – cut him some slack. Though I bet next time that uniform won’t be borrowed, and to the exact specifications he EARNED. And noted, most fraud occurs in the ribbons and stories that follow.

  15. Tim Says:
    October 24th, 2013 at 8:55 pm

    Um… he spent 4 years in, then 4 years out. Two hash marks. 8 year enlistments…

    Hash marks are not for active service, otherwise reservist MSgts would have like 1 maybe.

  16. Tim Says:
    October 24th, 2013 at 9:00 pm

    As a former USMC SSgt I would rather see a Marine in a uniform he earned. I will not fault him for the extra hash mark. Of all the issues of people misrepresenting as servicemembers this is the slightest of mistakes. I mean it’s not like he wore the recruiters ribbon stack and gave himself a promotion. The Marine got out as a Sgt and met the grooming standards and represented himself well in the uniform he poured his heart and soul into to earn. Anyone who has served knows full well a sewn on double hask mark is NOT easily altered, especially when it’s not his blouse in the first place. I say Semper Fi, and go get yourself your own new blouse and deck it out appropriately to represent your honorable service and tell the haters to….well you know.

  17. Shawn Haney Says:
    October 24th, 2013 at 9:48 pm

    Marine officials did not provide the service verification or information by press time because, as is normal for records from that timeframe (80-84), require several days processing. I’m the Marine official and I told the reporter that this morning. Bottom line: the service has not been confirmed. – Maj. Shawn Haney, M&RA PAO

  18. Whanrahan Says:
    October 24th, 2013 at 10:29 pm

    Seen this gentlemen perform before. What’s the need to confirm he was a Marine; to scratch some reporters itch?? He’s a trooper and his honesty and integrity need not be called into question. Too often some miscreant wants to play the gotcha game or stump the jump for the peter envy they seem to have. The man wore an extra hashmark BFD! He wears his GCM proudly. Far more than the stolen valor turds who are the integrity violators and probably narcissistic sociopaths…

  19. Mary Says:
    October 25th, 2013 at 1:33 am

    For all those who have questioned Sgt Dan Clark’s service and integrity. Sgt Clark has been honoring SERViICE MEN, LAW ENFORCEMENT, and FALLEN HEROES for over 25 years. Do you have a problem with that!

  20. Joey G Says:
    October 25th, 2013 at 10:06 am

    I don’t usually make comments on these boards but this one pissed me off enough to share my thoughts. The MARINE Sgt did a great job in representing our Marine Corps. Let’s also thank Sgt Murillo, a Marine with 5 combat tours, for giving up his uniform in order to get the mission accomplished. I’m sure we have all heard this before, Don’t sweat the small shit!

  21. Art Stone Says:
    October 25th, 2013 at 10:57 am

    I am familiar with this “singing trooper” and former marine.
    I have NO idea what his LE background but I’d be interested in his biggest felony arrest – even misdemeanor arrest…the Mass. Staties have so many people, this guy appears to have put all his time in singing at events and that is the extent of his ‘active’ life while there.
    As a former marine S/Sgt. and twice wounded ‘Nam vet, as well as a retired police Sgt., I think it’s time he go and get his OWN uniform, appropriately decorated with rank, ribbons, etc.
    The pension that they get will surely support this purchase.

  22. William Mead Says:
    October 25th, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    WELL DONE SGT DAN :-D
    GO GET YOUR OWN UNIFORM AND KEEP ON SINGING MARINE!!!

  23. Bill Lonergan Says:
    October 25th, 2013 at 4:17 pm

    The Commandant of the Corps, James F. Amos, has stated, “There is no such designation as a former or ex Marine. Once a Marine always a Marine!”

    To my way of thinking, if Dan Clark enlisted in 1980, he is entitled to wear 8 hash-marks! Don’t bitch to me, take it up with General Amos.

    Dan did the Massachusetts State Police and the USMC proud!

  24. Sgt Stryker Says:
    October 25th, 2013 at 9:14 pm

    Dan served four honorable years as a marine and another 21 honorable years a a trooper. He also rates the naval enlisted air crew wings. And yes, he served from 80-84 as did I. As for the hash mark, big friggin deal, I have caught individuals wearings PUCs and other awards.

  25. Tadgh O'Faolain Says:
    October 26th, 2013 at 11:00 am

    Art, speaking to your folks at WPD, you didn’t exactly set any records yourself. And there was a celebration when you retired. So take your sour grapes and go pound sand. As GySgt Hartman once said, “I have your name, I have your a$$”. Semper Fidelis.

  26. Grant McIntosh Says:
    October 26th, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    As Civilian NIS Special Agent in Beirut 1983, it was especially poignant you sang in Blues (Regardless of Who’s) on 23OCT, the 30th Remembrance of the USMC Beirut Bombing of the Marine Barracks. Rest in Peace our 241 Brothers. Thank you for you magnificent rendition, Semper Fi Marine/ Trooper Clark. G.T. McIntosh NIS/NCIS Ret

  27. WJHan Says:
    October 28th, 2013 at 9:29 am

    Refreshing to see that behind the the current scenes, there are those of us still think, act, and talk like United States Marines (pardon the pun). Great banter full of glue; no-doubt still indicates that by sticking together, we’ll both support and police each other regardless of the Marines status. Semper. V/r han

  28. WomanMarineVet Says:
    October 30th, 2013 at 10:51 pm

    I thought he did an outstanding job, and I appreciate the fact he was wearing a dress uniform and NOT cammies! Totally disagree with this wearing cammies off the base stuff you see all too often with the Army and the Chair Force!