Central Vacuum Stores Honors The US Marine Corps!

Today’s final Memorial Week feature belongs to the United States Marine Corps. Surprisingly, this article was the hardest to write. Not for lack of something to say but because my words were too many. The Marine Corps is something special to me; something to be esteemed and respected. The First to Fight…always ready, always faithful. I have spent a life in awe of them. 

Johnnie M Clark
Dad with his M60 machine gun.

My father served in the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War. He enlisted at 17, asking his step-father to sign a waiver. When the recruitment office found reason to deem him physically unfit, he began doing standing back-flips, holding up the line until they changed their mind. Some thought he was crazy. The Marine Corps thought he was perfect.

That’s my dad in the photo. Well, that’s not truly my dad…that’s some super buff nineteen year old holding a tremendously menacing weapon who looks a lot like my brother. I grew up seeing these strange photos littered around the house but it was always hard to make the connection.

This man is tough and hardened. My father was the one we went to when mom said no to something. This man is dangerously fearless. My father stayed awake at night thinking about installing airbags in my Jeep Wrangler.

Guns Up! by Johnnie M. Clark
Guns Up! by Johnnie M. Clark

It isn’t my place to tell you the heroics of my father and the Marines with whom he served. That’s already been done. Though I encourage you to read his account of the war, suffice it to say my father survived Vietnam, a feat in itself, and did it with great bravery. He brought honor to his Marine Corps.

But like so many veterans, the cruel truth was that surviving Vietnam was simply the first war to overcome. The triumph of “returning home” was always a beautiful mirage; a lie clung to with desperation and whispered about at night. There would be no real return from Vietnam. It would haunt them in their dreams, debilitate them with illnesses, and shackle them to a life of painful memories. It was to be their burden to carry forever.


This Memorial Day, I challenge you to not only honor those brave men and women who have sacrificed their lives for our beautiful nation (though please, please, do.) I beg you to consider spending time with our living veterans who far too often go ignored. Contact your local VA hospital and ask how you can help, volunteer with Feed Our Vets to provide food for homeless veterans, or get involved with Wounded Warrior Project and support those who returned injured and marred.

Though I’m grateful for Memorial Day, it isn’t enough to just remember our heroes. Don’t wait until November to pay your respect to our veterans, make it a priority this weekend and throughout the year.

I’ve seen the cost of their service. I’m challenged to pay my dues. I hope you are too.

If you were formerly or are currently in the United States Marine Corps, Central Vacuum Stores would like to celebrate your service with 5% off your total purchase!  Visit our Facebook Page to learn more or contact our sales team for more info at 1-800-221-8227.

More Photos of Johnnie M. Clark:

My dad in his full gear in Viet Nam
My dad on patrol in Vietnam
Being awarded the Purple Heart in a Naval hospital. It would be one of three earned.
Being awarded the Purple Heart in a Naval hospital. It would be one of three earned.
Graduation from Paris Island
Graduation from Paris Island
My father and me at the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C.
The two of us at the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C.

5 thoughts on “Central Vacuum Stores Honors The US Marine Corps!

  1. I loved reading the article. It was so well written. Tell him Thanks for me. Also tell your mom and family Hello. Lol. Lena Babin

  2. Thank you, Johnnie Clark, for your service to our country. After we finished SPHS, I went to college and worried about whether my shoes matched my outfit: you went to Viet Nam and fought for freedom, risking your life each day. Also, thank you to all who have served in any branch of the military. And finally, thank you to all who died while fighting for our country and freedom throughout the world. A blessed Memorial Day to all who read this post.

  3. I have had the honor to meet your father in person. He was honoring one of his battle buddies that didn’t make it home and all the others who did. More importantly, during the ceremony honoring these Marines, above all others he honored his God now that showed me how fearless a Marine can be, to do that in front of a crowd of people. Johnnie has taught me a lot about the Marines in Vietnam and especially one of my local hero’s Richard “Big Red” Weaver.
    All of this countries veterans are a national treasure but people need to be reminded that Vietnam veterans are a special breed. We have all heard stories of how they were not welcomed home, shamed into hiding their honorable service and even struggled to gain respect amoung other generations of veterans and had the VA turn their backs on them when they were coming home and falling ill later. And yes, they taught the world that PTSD is real. I was a young boy in the height of their war and coming to age and I can verify that these were not just stories but fact. They fought there and again here at home against their foes. Vietnam Vets made sure that never again would a generation of veterans be treated the way they were.
    Jump ahead to current day Iraq and Afgan vets and how this generation of veterans are treated. Pretty well. Thank you Vietnam Veterans for your service, for teaching us how to treat our veterans and Welcome Home.
    Very nicely written, thank you. And to your father Johnnie, Semper Fi!

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