The remarkable list of Everett area residents who distinguished themselves in service to their country grew a bit longer last week with the passing of Casey R. Clark.
Clark, 47, died after he contracted Malaria and COVID-19 while deployed to Djibouti, a small East African nation on the Gulf of Aden.
His wife, Selvi (Rajakumaran) Clark, described him as “an incredible warrior.”
Casey Clark was a standout athlete for Everett Area High School, where he was a defensive lineman on the football team and an eighth-place state finisher for the Warriors’ wrestling squad.
“I don’t doubt that he would have had success at anything he did,” said Brian Koontz, Casey’s football coach at Everett. “I remember him as a tough kid — undersized. He always did what he was told.
“He had a way about him, where the other team always had a lot of trouble blocking him. I’m guessing that was his wrestling skills. He always found a way to create penetration and cause havoc.”
After graduation, Clark enlisted in the Navy at the age of 17, intent on making it his career.
“He was sure of that,” Selvi Clark said.
She related that others around him recalled that he was “a little bit of a mischievous child” who was once in a serious motorcycle accident.
“He was very smart, very talented,” she said.
He began his Naval career as a torpedoman on submarines, deploying on the USS Bluefish in Charleston, South Carolina, and the USS Scranton in Norfolk, Virginia, to the Mediterranean and Arabian Gulf in Operation Desert Storm.
She said her husband displayed “an unusual level of service. Very over and above.”
That sentiment was echoed by Bill Crabtree, his commander aboard the Bluefish. In a an email to Selvi Clark, Crabtree, recalled that, “He was a sponge for knowledge, and we soon found out that he was much smarter than the average torpedoman. … His intelligence really showed when he qualified all his watch stations and submarines well ahead of schedule. Not only did this benefit him but the ship’s leadership also commended me for his success, and as much as I appreciated it I felt guilty because it was clearly his own dedication motivation that pushed him.
“He was a great sailor and an incredibly special friend that I will sorely miss. I am certain that he left this impression on many people in his life both before and after our time together.
“I have a lot of fond memories over my 22 years in the Navy but there were only a handful of people that were incredibly special to me and Casey was at the top of that list.”
Following his submarine duty, Casey joined the Navy Special Operations Explosive Ordnance Disposal force, completing rigorous training as a Navy diver, bomb technician and parachuter. Only 32 candidates were accepted into the EOD program and only seven graduated, including Casey. He was stationed in Whidbey Island, Washington, where he deployed to East Asia and the Arabian Gulf, training foreign and U.S. Special Forces in improvised explosive device techniques.
After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, he was deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom, and also earned a bachelor’s degree from Excelsior College.
He left the Navy in 2003, and became part of a government special operations unit for covert ground operations, in which he was deployed more than 50 times to such diverse locations as Afghanistan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Jordan, Japan, Jamaica, Philippines, Chad and Djibouti.
Selvi Clark said the dangerous work he did for the Navy and government was in sharp contrast to his home life, where she described him as “a very sentimental guy.
“He was a very caring father. I was amazed at how he took care of his daughters. He was very much a caretaker. He loved to take care of his family.”
Casey became the father of twin daughters, Daron and Berkeley, in 1993, with his former spouse, Elissa Clower.
He and Selvi added two more daughters, Rehya and Naiya, in 2008 and 2011.
Selvi recalled that she and Casey met in 2000 while he was serving aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln and she was a consultant for Price Waterhouse Coopers, where she was deployed with a five-person team.
They met only briefly on the ship before he was deployed with a Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit in the Arabian Gulf, where he served aboard small rubber boats that were checking foreign ships that she said “were sometimes compliant, sometimes non-compliant.”
That New Year’s, she received an email from him in which he said he was thinking about who he wanted to wish a happy new year, and “I was the only person who came to mind.”
Selvi said they met again in Australia, where his friend, Brad, was friendly with her roommate.
Later, while Casey was stationed at Whidbey Island, he was re-deployed to the East Coast. His daughters were living in Bedford, and rather than flying, he and Selvi drove across the country.
“That pretty much sealed the deal,” she said.
“He was a really simple man,” she said. “He loved to stay home. He was deployed so much, he loved staying home, taking care of his family.”
He was born Tuesday, Sept. 4, 1973, in Bedford, son of Jody (Bush) Clark and the late Melvin (Merv) Clark lll.
In addition to his wife and daughters, Casey is survived by grandchildren Knoxx and Ryatt; mother, Jody Clark of Everett; sister and brother-in-law, Schatze and Mark Young of Everett; brother and sister-in-law, Cody and Vanessa Clark of Mount Joy; and many loving nieces, nephews, cousins and in-laws. Casey had a second mother, Herlinda Lopez, whom he loved deeply as family. He was especially close to his brother-in-law, Satheesh Rajakumaran.
In addition to his father, Merv, he was preceded in passing by his baby boy, “Rajan”; his uncle, Randy E. Clark; and his aunt, Sherry (Bush) Cornelius.
A graveside service with full military honors will be held on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. at Everett Cemetery. Friends may visit Casey at the Jack H. Geisel Funeral Home Inc., Everett, from 11 a.m. to noon on Saturday (one family at a time). All are invited to join virtually at 11:30 a.m. at: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89901946151?pwd=YmZiYkdNNzZJeWI5cmtZL2RLUWc1Zz09; Meeting ID: 899 0194 615, passcode: 44617.