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Mrs. Clardy: New Starts in Trodden Territory


story & photography by katie elwell

lison Clardy, spouse of MCAGCC

Commanding General Brig. General

Herman S. Clardy, III, bears numerous responsibilities. “I am many things – a wife, a parent, a friend, a Christian, a volunteer…” she said, adding, “When put into words, I realize that I just defined a Marine Corps spouse.” Since moving to Twentynine Palms in September 2009, Alison has taken up the task of reaching out to her fellow military spouses and the broader community. Twentynine Palms isn’t altogether foreign territory for this long-time Marine spouse. The Combat Center was her first duty station in 1987. She came as a Marine. The now retired lieutenant colonel was fresh out of Officer Candidate School. Following billets at Quantico and Camp Lejeune, Alison returned to the desert in 2001, this time as a Marine wife and mother of two young girls. At the same time, she was serving in the Marine Reserves, occasionally being activated to active duty, and volunteering as the Key Volunteer advisor for 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, where her husband was the commanding officer. During that time, 3rd LAR deployed to Iraq and Alison found herself laden with the sober responsibility of being a liaison between the command and the families back home. “I have to say that if I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t do it anywhere other than Twentynine Palms,” Alison explained. “The community here is such a close knit group of people. We were really like a family going through it together.” The Clardy family would leave in 2003, but wouldn’t be gone long. In September 2009, they returned and Brig. Gen. Clardy assumed responsibility as the Commanding General of the Combat Center. While being a Commanding General’s spouse keeps Alison on her toes, her number one priority is her role of mom.

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I think the area here is great. Within two hours you can do almost anything. You can go boating, you can go skiing, you can go hiking...

“Raising children in the Marine Corps family can be tough, but the benefits far outweigh the tough times,” Alison pointed out. “Watching my daughters make new friends at each base is such a joy. I love having a house full of children. I am delighted even more when I see my girls reaching out to help other new children make the transition. Nothing beats seeing the pride on a child’s face when they tell you about the great things their dad, or mom, is doing for our country or the people in another country.” In their short stint here, daughters Mary

Brig. Gen. Clardy & Alison Clardy with daughters Mary and Shelby at the World War II Memorial in Washington D.C.

and Shelby, ages 12 and 10, have already lunged into local activities. Both girls took up Youth Sports soccer this past fall. Mary Shelby has been making friends throughout the neighborhood. The family has been intentional about setting aside time to explore the region as well, boating in Big Bear and soaking in the sun at Lake Havasu. “I think the area here is great,” Alison said. “Within two hours you can do almost anything. You can go boating, you can go skiing, you can go hiking…”

You might also catch Alison cheering on the sidelines at her daughters’ games, enjoying a concert at Twentynine Palms Junior High or shopping at the Marine Corps Exchange. If you do, be sure to introduce yourself. “I hope there will be many opportunities to meet the spouses here in Twentynine Palms,” Alison said. She added, “It doesn’t take a formally planned event to get to know people. I hope that spouses will feel comfortable coming up and introducing themselves to me when they see me around base.”

Marine d as an officer in the Alison Clardy serve s in front of an Iraqi armored nd Corps. Here she sta ring Operation Desert Storm. du anti-aircraft vehicle


is experimenting with the saxophone while


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New Starts in Trodden Territory story & photography by katie elwell 18 •DesertLifestyle• winter2010 Brig. Gen. Clardy & Alison Clard...