Stacy Clardy, a Georgetown native and 1983 graduate of USC in Columbia, has spent a lot of his life in Pawleys Island. He’s now also the commanding general of the III Marine Expeditionary Force with headquarters in Okinawa, Japan. The island, off the coast of Taiwan, is almost 1,000 miles by air from Tokyo, Japan.
Lt. Gen. Clardy is on his fourth assignment to Japan. From 2013 to 2015 he was the commanding general of 3rd Marine Division, a component of the III Marine Expeditionary Force. In this new assignment, Clardy is in charge of more than 30,000 Marines at bases and camps in Japan, Hawaii and South Korea.
His dad, H. Stacy Clardy Jr., lives on Pawleys Island. He’s a retired Navy captain. He told the Georgetown Times that his son may be the first Georgetown native to reach three-star (lieutenant general) rank in any branch of the military.
He said that his son was promoted to lieutenant general in April and assumed command of the expeditionary force at the end of May.
“There are only three of them (MEF) in the Marine Corps,” the older Clardy said. They serve as commanders at Camp Pendleton in California, Camp LeJeune in North Carolina and Okinawa.
The Marine general was born in September 1960 at Georgetown Memorial Hospital where his grandmother Mary Clardy was a nurse. His grandfather Herman Stacy Clardy was probate judge for Georgetown County for many years.
He and his wife Alison, herself a retired Marine, have three daughters. Two daughters are graduates of the University of South Carolina and the third is a junior in the nursing program there.
“This is still home for me and the foundation for my character and values stems directly from here,” Clardy III said in an earlier interview. “I come back to Pawleys to recharge my batteries because it is relaxing, the food is great and people here are the nicest I’ve found around the world.”
When Clardy assumed command in Okinawa he took over from a long-time Marine friend, Lt. Gen. Eric M. Smith.
Prior to assuming command of III MEF, Clardy served as the Military Deputy for the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness. Gen. Smith relayed his excitement for Clardy’s future.
“You think I have passion?” said Smith. “Wait until you meet Stacy Clardy. You have no idea how good a deal you’re getting. For those of you in the U.S.-Japan alliance, you have no idea how fortunate you are that a veteran of Japan has come back.”
Clardy’s most recent service in Okinawa was from 2013 through 2015 as the commanding general of 3rd Marine Division. During the ceremony, Clardy expressed an optimistic outlook on his future with III MEF.
“Okinawa is a special place,” Clardy said. “This is my fourth tour in Japan. I watched my children grow up here. I consider this my second home.”
A Marine Corps statement said that the III MEF provides the United States with a forward-deployed force in readiness in the Pacific theater. It is a globally responsive, expeditionary, and fully scalable Marine Air Ground Task Force, capable of employing forces for operations ranging from crisis response to major combat.
“I am humbled to be back here again,” said Clardy. “III MEF is a forward-deployed, expeditionary Marine Air-Ground Task Force, ready for any crisis and to lend a helping hand. They’ve shown that in the past and they’ll do it again tomorrow.”
Okinawa Prefecture is an integral part of Japan. It’s made up of a group of islands in the Ryuku Islands archipelago. The prefecture stretches more than 620 miles, from near Taiwan to the southern-most of the four main islands of Japan.