“I am often referred to as the crazy cat guy,” said the 5’7 man with a precision line haircut and a sharply pressed uniform, who already has four cats at home.
“I don’t like seeing animals being taken to shelters, so I take them in,” said Senior Airman John Clark French, a security forces technician assigned to the 175th Wing Security Forces Squadron, Maryland Air National Guard. “I sometimes spot stray cats while out on patrol but fight the urge to take them home.”
French enjoys supporting those around him, including his animal friends. Moreover, he really values being when others do the same for him. When he came to the Maryland ANG in 2017, his supervisor did just that and French is extremely grateful.
“One thing my supervisor said that has stuck with me was ‘I am here for you,’” said French, when describing Staff Sgt. Michael Royale, a flight supervisor assigned to the 175th Wing Security Forces Squadron. “He has done everything he can to help guide me and I find that absolutely fantastic! He is a great leader and I aspire to be like him because he is a great guy, not just work wise but family wise, as well as a great friend.”
Currently French works at 175th Wing in Middle River but it was quite a transition from Marine Corps. He wasn’t sure what to expect since everyone was so helpful.
“They provided and explained all the available programs and encouraged me to better myself, it was a big culture shock,” said French. “However, I am grateful for the foundation the Marine Corps provided me.”
When he was in the first grade living in Bel Air, Maryland, he knew he wanted to serve because the events of 9/11 solidified his decision. His parents told him about terrorist attacks and didn’t hold anything back.
“They told me the truth about what happened, the consequences of the actions and what it meant for us and our country,” said French. “Even as a child that didn’t sit right with me.”
At the age of 18, French joined the Marine Corps because he wanted to be on the front lines and be the “first line of defense.” Still during his initial enlistment he began to see the role that all the branches of the military played and began looking for a better fit for him and his family.
Through friends, he began to learn about the Maryland ANG and everyone was saying good things. He thought his infantry skills would translate well to security forces.
“Joining the Guard has allowed me to follow my dream while still focusing on what is most important to me; family and the military,” said French, who wants to retire from the Air Force after 20 years. “I love it! I won’t be going anywhere any time soon if it’s up to me.”
His job allows him to be out and not stuck behind a desk all day when is perfect for him, since he loves being outdoors hiking, camping, and hunting. Fishing is his favorite and he even taught his wife. The problem now is that she has been catching better fish than him now.
Still that won’t keep him from continuing to mentor those around him and try to make things better in his squadron. He is eager to share his knowledge and advice from throughout his career with his fellow Airmen.
“Have discipline installed in your body, you want it to encompass you,” said French. “Whether you are applying for a promotion or speaking to a high ranking officer, the discipline and bearing you display goes a long way. Also, never be worried about failing, learn from your mistakes, correct them and continue on your course. Never give up!”