Clark Succeeds Johnson as Chief of Naval Operations
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jul. 25, 2000 Ending his career where it began, Adm. Jay Johnson retired as chief of naval operations July 21 during a ceremony at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.
Later in the ceremony, Navy Secretary Richard Danzig swore in Adm. Vern Clark to succeed Johnson. The chief of naval operations is a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and serves a renewable two-year term.
"Today, we pay tribute to the leader who has guided our ships and our sailors with such great care and compassion," Defense Secretary William S. Cohen said. "A leader, who over the past four years, has had a most impressive tenure and indeed, over his lifetime ... he has reaffirmed and renewed the timeless values and traditions of America's Navy."
Cohen listed some of the challenges Johnson faced while in the top uniformed Navy post. Johnson helped formulate military policy to respond to tensions in Asia. He also worked on Operations Southern Watch over Iraq and helped form NATO's answer to Serb aggression in Operation Allied Force, Cohen said. "And we've had the internal challenges, from readiness to retention to formulating a strategy to capitalize on the stunning revolutions in both military and business affairs."
In a message to the fleet, Johnson thanked sailors for their contributions and sacrifices. He noted that as he served on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, sailors participated in 45 operations around the world, ranging from humanitarian efforts to intense combat.
"What has consistently stood out as most notable has been your quality and dedication in mission accomplishment," he wrote. "Sailors, chiefs, officers and civilians -- you are the best of America and your service has made us the finest maritime force the world has ever known."
Johnson is a 1968 Naval Academy graduate and became a naval aviator in 1969. He flew F-8 Crusaders over Vietnam. During his career he served as commander of VF-84 and the commander of Carrier Air Wing One. He also commanded Carrier Group Eight and the carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt. He was the commander of Second Fleet before becoming the vice chief of naval operations. He served as interim chief upon Adm. Jeremy Boorda's death in May 1996 and was confirmed for the job in his own right that August.
Clark was commissioned through officer candidate school in 1968. A graduate of Evangel College in Springfield, Mo., Clark started his naval career aboard destroyers. His first command was the gunboat USS Grand Rapids. He subsequently commanded the USS McCloy, the USS Spruance, Destroyer Squadron Seventeen and the USS Carl Vinson carrier battle group. Clark led the Joint Staff's Crisis Action Team during Operations Desert Shield/Storm. He was the director of operations with the Joint Staff prior to becoming the commander of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet in September 1999.