In 1999, Dan was invited to speak at a Navy Leadership Conference. Immediately following his long standing ovation, he was scheduled to be the keynote speaker at the Navy Commanders Conference later that year at the Naval Museum in Pensacola, Florida.
When Dan returned to the dinner table following his speech and another rousing ovation, Admiral Dwyer, Admiral Clark and Admiral Healy all thanked Dan and expressed that if there was anything any of them could do, to please let them know.
Without blinking an eye Dan replied, “I would love to fly in an F-18 fighter jet.” On January 17, 2000 Dan got his ride out of Patuxent River, Maryland Navy Test Pilot School.
Details of Dan’s all day long safety/survival/physiology training experiences and his incredible flight can be found in Dan’s book, Significance. You will laugh until you cry as you read about Dan catching 7 G’s, soaring to 55,000 feet altitude where you can start to see the curvature of the earth and cruising at Mach II, twice the speed of sound! Flying at 640 knots at only 500 feet off the ground over the bombing range in North Carolina was exhilarating to say the least. Did Dan “pop his cookies?” Read Dan’s book to find out!
The Air Force got a great recommendation on Dan and asked him to speak at Hill Air Force Base to the 388th Fighter Wing and Support Wings. Twelve squadrons in Hanger 37 heard Dan’s powerful speech in January 2001. Wing Commander Colonel Johnny Weida was elated with the long standing ovation and offered to give Dan a ride in an F-16 fighter jet.
On June 6, 2001 (D-Day!), Dan flew with Colonel Bill Couttes, went 1.1 mach, caught 9 G’s and chased and later was chased by another F-16 in air to air combat maneuvers (this experience is also found in Dan’s book on Significance) Dan was made Honorary Wing Commander, given the official call sign “Hot Lips” and his lifelong love affair with the military was full on!
National Civic Leaders Board
Dan was first called as a Pentagon Appointee by the Secretary of the United States Air Force Michael B. Donley to join him and Air Force Chief of Staff General Norton A. Schwartz to serve on their National Civic Leaders Board.
Honored with the Distinguished Service Medal
Dan continued to serve as a Pentagon Appointed member of the National Civic Leaders Board with U.S. Secretary of the Air Force Debra James and Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark A. Welsh III – who honored Dan with the Distinguished Service Medal – the highest military civilian award presented by our beloved America.
“Thank you Dan Clark – patriot, great American, courageous warrior, and forever an Air Force Airman! You are definitely an honorary wingman, dear friend of the Air Force, Army, Marines, Navy and Coast Guard, and one of our most respected civilian advocates that help us tell our amazing military stories. Thank you for your tireless commitment to service before self. It was my pleasure to select your magnificent book, ‘The Art of Significance’ as one of only twelve books included on my annual ‘Chief of Staff Recommended Reading List.’” – General Mark A Welsh III, U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff
American Spirit Award
Dan was the 2017 recipient of the prestigious American Spirit Award – the highest civilian honor bestowed by the U.S. Air Force Recruiting Command in recognition of extraordinary patriotism, unique service to our country, visible support of Airmen and their families and advocating for the military at home and abroad. (Former recipients include Bob Hope, Paul Harvey, Gary Sinise, Dolly Parton, Reba McEn’re, Rudy Giuliani, NBA’s Jerry Reinsdorf, NFL’s Jerry Jones.)
Corona and World Chiefs Conference
Dan has been a keynote speaker to cadets at all of the U.S. military academies, has three times been the general session speaker at the Air Force Academy Character and Leadership Development Symposium, has been a headliner at West Point’s National Conference on Ethics and West Point’s Women’s Conference, and had the distinct honor to be a keynote speaker at three different “Corona’s” – the Air Force Four Star Generals Leadership Conference, and at the Air Force “World Chiefs Conference” and “International Public Affairs Conference.” Dan has also spoken at every MAJCOM Air Force Commander’s Conference in the world!
Dan is a graduate of Air University National Security Forum 2002 Maxwell Air Force Base Montgomery, Alabama.
Dan also graduated from Army War College National Security Seminar 2006 Carlisle Barricks Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
50th Anniversary Celebration of NORAD
Dan was privileged to serve as the Master of Ceremonies during the 50th Anniversary Celebration of NORAD.
Doolittle Raiders at Wright Patterson AFB
Dan was invited to the final reunion of the Doolittle Raiders at Wright Patterson AFB. Sixteen of the Raiders were still alive – eight were healthy enough to attend. Dan sat in the sacred “Goblet Ceremony” with these heros and their families, listened to the roll call, participated in the toast, and listened to their stories for hours on end.
Dan was honored with a Battle of the Bulge ‘Ace’ -a Tokyo ‘Doolittle Raider’ and the Berlin ‘Candy Bomber’!
Dan has also served with Air Force Chief of Staff General David L. Goldfein, and shared the platform in many prestigious military events with Navy Admiral Samuel J.
Locklear and wife Pamela – and General Mark A. Welsh III and wife Betty – and the fearless Tuskegee Airmen – some of our most decorated World War II heroes!
From February 15 to March 1, 2005, Dan was a guest of Air Combat Command’s 9th Air Force Central Command and traveled to Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan and Iraq. Dan spoke 23 times on 12 bases, to 30,000 troops and to 2,500 sailors and marines on the U.S.S. Harry S. Truman aircraft carrier. Dan landed on and took off the carrier deck in the Persian Gulf.
Dan took 30,000 packages of Juicy Fruit gum, sponsored and sent by Telecom Corporation out of New York, with the support and blessing of their amazing and generous CEO, Ed Donelan. The troops loved it! They send their heartfelt thanks to Telecom!
At the conclusion of each speech, Dan offered to phone their loved ones when he returned to the States to say hello and pass on their love. Over 500 airmen, soldiers and sailors gave Dan names and numbers. It took him several weeks to make the calls, but what a magnificent experience to marines connect with the families of our brave and unselfish service men and women.
Dan has since been Down Range eight times conducting his popular ‘Military Tribute Tours’ most recently taking Jason Hewlett, Dean Kaelin, and David Archuleta to Kuwait Afghanistan, Bahrain, and Africa – and going with Global Samaritan Resources on a humanitarian mission to Erbil, Iraq, and Kurdistan.
When asked if Dan was proud of his efforts, he replied that everything military-related has always been pro bono. This is his small way of serving his country, helping his America and giving back a little to our finest, most noble military men and women, whom he so deeply appreciates and loves!
Dan has had the honor and privilege of speaking on the same program with super heroes Navy SEALS Marcus Luttrell (‘Lone Survivor’) and Robert O’Neal (SEAL Team 6 who killed Osama Bin Laden), John Wayne Walding (Green Beret at the Battle of Shok Valley, Afghanistan) and Mark Geist (Marine at Battle of Benghazi). Because of Dan’s continuous commitment to volunteer his talents and energy and time to improving the morale and wellbeing of our military personnel, Dan has been given incredible ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ experiences including speaking to troops in Korea and visiting the ‘Demilitarized Zone’ on the border of North and South Korea, where he stared down a North Korean officer looking at Dan through binoculars from only fifty feet away. Dan’s collection of thank you gifts include a piece of the barbed wire fence from the ‘DMZ.’ Dan has also spoken to troops in Okinawa and stood on “Hacksaw Ridge.”
On Dan’s several tours to Iraq (Baghdad, BIOP, Tallil, Balad, Basra, Kirkuk, Erbil, Mosul), Dan spoke many times to thousands of troops at many venues – including the UN/Coalition Military Leaders at Saddam’s palace Camp Victory in the Grand Ballroom, where Dan then spent the night in Saddam’s Guest Room Suite (the toilet was made of ‘Mother of Pearl’). On a day off during his 16-day tour, Dan visited the childhood home of Father Abraham, walked through ‘UR of the Chaldeans’ (mentioned in the Old Testament) and climbed the Ziggurat (believed to be the base of the Tower of Babel) in Tallil. In his tours to Afghanistan Dan has spoken in Wardak Province, Marine Base Camp Leatherneck, Jalalabad – multiple times on the bases in Kabul, Bagram and Kandahar, visited the prisons, and was even asked to carve his name into the adobe wall of the ‘Taliban Tavern.’
While most influential VIP ‘Civic Leaders’ are given one ‘Incentive Ride,’ because Dan has been unselfishly serving our military and their families delivering over 350 free speeches since 2001, Commanders have continued to thank Dan with the rare opportunity to fly every fighter jet in the Air Force that has two seats – AND take control of the stick for 30 minutes of the 90 minute sortie to turn and climb and dive and experience the exhilarating supersonic performance of each of these military masterpieces. Dan has also flown all the bombers and transport/tankers. A highlight for Dan was flying with the Air Force Thunderbirds doing all the air show maneuvers (Arrowhead Loop, Calypso, Cross Over Break, Delta Burst, Diamond Opener, High Bomb Burst and Inverted Opposing Knife Edge – at Mach, catching 9.4 Gs) and later keynoting the Thunderbirds reunion in Las Vegas, spending after-hours time hearing stories about trust and preparation and disciplined showmanship from Teams that span decades of precision flying!
With instructor at Randolph AFB, Texas (Mach, 6 G’s, formation flying, maneuverability demo)
Eglin AFB, Florida (Danced in the Clouds for 90 minutes, ‘buzzed’ the tower at 100 feet off the deck)
Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina (Mach, 7 G’s, 648 knots at 1,000 ft, bombing runs) RAF Mildenhall AFB, England (Mach, 8 G’s, 700 knots at 500 ft)
Hill AFB, Utah (Mach, formation flying, air to air dogfighting with another F-16) & Nellis AFB, Nevada with the THUNDERBIRDS (Mach 1.4, 9.4 G’s, all Air Show maneuvers) and in Spangdahlem, Germany (Mach, 7.5 G’s, cruising USAFE)
Patuxent River Naval Station, Maryland (1500 mph, 7.5 G’s, 46,000 ft, bombing range)
Edwards AFB, California (90- minute orbit, refueled F- 16, F-18 and F-117). And in Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Utah, Texas – Dan has operated many ‘Booms’
Travis AFB California – Dan flew it for 30 mins
Dover AFB Delaware, Altus AFB Oklahoma, JB Lewis-McChord Washington, JB Elmendorf- Richardson Alaska, Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan – Dan flew them for 30 mins
Edwards AFB, California (Mach II 50,000 ft. altitude – sat in left seat for take off and landing, and spent time sitting with the engineer and weapons officer. Dan executed an aileron roll while flying – experienced auto pilot low level flying at 500 ft.
Whiteman AFB, Missouri (40,000 ft. altitude) – flew the ‘Spirit of Kitty Hawk’
93-1086 – 2 hour sortie – executed 16 bombing runs – Dan’s #: ‘Spirit 532’
Minot AFB, North Dakota (#7 engine started on fire in flight, bomber call sign “Torch”)
Flew in a helicopter to a live missile silo – Minot AFB, North Dakota – received a DV Tour down into the silo – met the missileers – experienced the drama of a nuclear launch sequence.
Beale AFB, California. 4.5 hour sortie to over 16 miles above the earth where Dan saw the curvature of the earth, gazed into the blackness of space, and pondered eternity. Dan flew it at 30,000 ft. and again at 75,000 ft.
With Three-Star General Walter “Buck” Buchanan, Commander of the 9th Air Force and US Central Command flying from Shaw AFB, South Carolina to Southwest Asia, being refueled over Nova Scotia on the way and returning back to America!
18 flights over 13 days throughout Southwest Asia (total blackout “Night Vision Goggles” take-off, tactical high speed rapid descent landings!). Pope AFB North Carolina, Kessler AFB Mississippi, Eielson AFB Alaska, RAF Lakenheath AFB England – Dan flew them for 30 mins
Fast and furious! 100 feet off the ground at 100 mph all over Iraq. And at EF Warren AFB Wyoming, and in Alaska, Kuwait, Afghanistan – Also flew with National Civic Leaders in Washington DC up the Potomac 100 feet off the deck
Wardak Province Afghanistan (Dan’s crew got shot at and returned machine gun fire!) also in Jalalabad Afghanistan
Dan arranged for a “Four Ship – Missing Man Formation” fly-by with four F-16 fighter jets to honor his father-in-law at the cemetery service. Dan’s father-in-law was a Prisoner of War in World War 2 for one year. When his father-in-law passed away, it was spectacular and moving, with the Honor Guard folding the flag off his casket and presenting it to his wife. The 21- Gun Salute and bugler playing “Taps” brought an amazing spirit to the surroundings. Then the jets roared overhead! Wow!!
And wouldn’t you know it? When Dan lands at Balad Base in Baghdad, Iraq he sees twelve F-16’s with “HL” painted on the tail. They were jets with the 388th Fighter Wing from Hill AFB, Utah, where Dan was an Honorary Wing Commander.
Three pilots and two of the jets that flew Dan’s father-in-law’s fly-by were there in Iraq fighting the bad guys. Dan spoke to all the troops that night and there on the front row were Colonel “Calvin” Klein and the other pilots, maintainers and support personnel!
Dan’s itinerary in Southwest Asia included visiting with enlisted troops at their job work stations and speaking 23 times to the large gatherings of all ranks and civilian workers in the afternoons and evenings at twelve bases: Al Dhafra U.A.E., Al Udeid Qatar, Bagram and Kandahar Afghanistan, Camp Behring and Ali Al Salem Base in Kuwait, Camp Victory (Saddam’s Palace in Baghdad Iraq), and Baghdad International, Balad, , Tallil and Kirkuk Iraq.
Dan also had the incredible honor and privilege to speak to our brave men and women in the Seventeenth Air Force stationed in Djibouti, and Addis Ababa and Arba Minch, Ethiopia.
Dan’s father, S. Wayne Clark, served in the 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion in World War II flying B-17s that provided military intelligence the first accurate map of the pacific theater. Consequently, Dan’s father was in the highly classified meetings at the Pentagon when they conceived and planned the bombings that ended World War II. Dan’s father’s cousin Mervin S. Bennion, was the Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. West Virginia that was attacked and sunk at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Sadly, Mervin died on deck in the battle and as a result of his gallantry was posthumously presented the Congressional Medal of Honor.
It is the soldier, not the reporter, who gave us freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, who gave us freedom of speech. It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who gave us freedom to demonstrate. It is the soldier, who salutes the flag, who serves under the flag, whose coffin is draped by the flag, that gives those who selfishly choose to, their right to burn the flag!