U.S. Air Force Academy Honors Lt. Gen. Clark with Order of the Sword

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Christopher A. Traphagan
  • U.S. Air Force Academy Strategic Communications
The U.S. Air Force Academy’s enlisted force honored Lt. Gen. Richard M. Clark during an “Order of the Sword” ceremony in Arnold Hall Ballroom on May 11, 2024.

The Order of the Sword is the highest honor enlisted members can bestow upon a general officer. The Academy’s command chief, Chief Master Sgt. Heriberto Diaz, hosted the event in coordination with enlisted subject matter experts from around the installation. The group recognized Clark for his outstanding contributions to the welfare and prestige of the enlisted force, mission effectiveness, and the military establishment.

"The opportunities the general has provided for our enlisted members are endless," Diaz said. "His unwavering support for the enlisted corps and his visionary leadership have left an indelible mark on the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space Force and the lives of countless Airmen and Guardians. It is a true honor to have the opportunity to recognize our leader, Lt Gen Clark."

This ceremony holds a distinguished place in military tradition, symbolizing the utmost respect and admiration from the enlisted corps toward leaders who embody the values of integrity, leadership, and dedication. The Academy’s enlisted personnel celebrated Clark’s timeless efforts in shaping a culture of excellence and empowerment.

"Receiving the Order of the Sword is a true honor," Clark shared during the ceremony. "It's a testament to our enlisted airmen's incredible dedication and professionalism. I attribute where I am today to the relentless support of the enlisted Airmen and Guardians who have been there for me throughout my career. From the maintainer who ensured I took off and landed every mission to the services Airman who ensured aircrews had proper nutrition to the defenders who held the line and safeguarded our area of responsibility. I wouldn't be where I am without our enlisted team."

Clark's tenure as the Academy’s Superintendent has been marked by initiatives aimed at enhancing the quality of life and professional development opportunities for enlisted personnel. Under his leadership, the Academy has seen significant advancements in training programs, mentorship initiatives, and recognition of enlisted achievements, fostering a sense of pride and unity within the entire Academy community.

The ceremony included the presentation of the Order of the Sword proclamation, a ceremonial scroll signed by attendees affirming Clark's service and leadership, and a symbolic sword, signifying his role as a leader among leaders in the U.S. Air Force.

The Order of the Sword tradition traces its origins to the medieval era, when noncommissioned officers would honor leaders with a ceremonial sword as a symbol of truth, justice, and righteous power. Today, the tradition continues as a timeless acknowledgment of exceptional leadership and dedication within the U.S. Air Force. This is the first induction into the Order of the Sword at the Academy since Lt. Gen. Michael Gould in 2012.

For more imagery from the event, check out this Flickr album: https://www.flickr.com/photos/af_academy/albums.