This Marine Vet Now Manages One Of The Hottest Startups Of 2015

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Marine vet Chris Clark outside DoorDash’s Orange County Headquarters in in Costa Mesa, California.
Photo courtesy of Chris Clark

It’s funny how much another person can change your life. Especially when he’s wearing a vest full of explosives and wants to blow you up. For Chris Clark, an otherwise normal day with his Marine reconnaissance team in April 2006 became a turning point in his life after he narrowly survived a suicide bomber in al Anbar province, Iraq.


“This event was the catalyst that gave me the drive and ambition I have today,” Clark said in an interview via email. “I appreciated the imminence of death, and the need to live with gratitude for everything but satisfaction with nothing. I will never let myself settle with mediocrity. I will put passion, sweat, blood, and tears into everything I pursue.”

If that sounds intense, it’s because Clark is intense. And he walks the walk, applying this ethos in all aspects of his life since that day. Now, 29, Clark lives in Laguna Niguel, California, with his wife Danielle and works as a general manager for DoorDash, an on-demand food delivery startup.

Clark left active duty as a sergeant in 2008, and then got out of the reserves in 2014, leaving 4th Force Reconnaissance Battalion as a staff sergeant. Originally enrolled in a local community college, Clark earned a spot as a transfer student at Stanford University, where he graduated in 2012.

It was hard for Clark to shed his early troubles. “I went from a kid who barely graduated high school to an enlisted Marine,” he recalled, “but I still had a long way to go.” Transitioning out of the Marine Corps was his first real test as a civilian. He had to work incredibly hard: “I leveraged the discipline and work ethic from the military and applied them to academics. It’s like being in a recon team - you are only as good as your last mission, and every single day is a selection,” Clark said.

Chris Clark (far left) on a training mission with 4th Force Recon Company.

Making it to Stanford was a huge validation of his drive and effort. He studied under Dr. Condoleezza Rice, who served as secretary of State and national security advisor during George W. Bush’s presidency.

Discussing foreign policy and international economics with former cabinet members reminded Clark how far he had come, and how we was able to get there. “The stark differences in my day-to-day realities [from Iraq to Stanford] highlighted how hard work and a natural competitiveness allowed me to forge my own path,” explained Clark.

Education is critical for a successful transition, according to Clark. “I highly recommend taking advantage of [the G.I. Bill]. A college degree is a necessary commodity in the workplace. Without it, you are unlikely to compete for good jobs.” And brand matters, especially for enlisted veterans. “The better the school, the better you are set up for success.”

Transition is hard though. And Clark is frustrated by the lack of preparation on the part of many people leaving the military. “Most servicemembers are not ready to enter the school or the private sector. There is a sense of entitlement rather than asking ‘How can I be useful to my team or company today?’ Nobody at work cares that I was in a recon team a decade ago.”

Now as a general manager in the startup world, Clark has to adapt to an even higher level of performance. DoorDash was just ranked one of the top 10 fastest-growing startups by Forbes, and the company pushes its managers hard.

“Everyday is a challenge,” Clark said. “There are unlimited possibilities to fail or succeed. I need to apply all of my natural and learned abilities to crush it at work.”

Clark admits that working at a hot tech company isn’t for a lot of people. “I would only recommend the startup world to veterans who are hell-bent on success. You need to recognize that the world owes you nothing. And you need to be even more committed to achievement now than when you were in the military.

Clark closed our interview on a cautionary note. “Remember, in the private sector there is no promotion for time in grade.”

Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) will announce legislation Wednesday aiming to "fix" a new Trump administration citizenship policy that affects some children of U.S. service members stationed abroad.

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The video opens innocently enough. A bell sounds as we gaze onto a U.S. Navy frigate, safely docked at port at Naval Base San Diego. A cadre of sailors, dressed in "crackerjack" style enlisted dress uniforms and hauling duffel bags over their shoulders, stride up a gangplank aboard the vessel. The officer on deck greets them with a blast of a boatswain's call. It could be the opening scene of a recruitment video for the greatest naval force on the planet.

Then the rhythmic clapping begins.

This is no recruitment video. It's 'In The Navy,' the legendary 1979 hit from disco queens The Village People, shot aboard the very real Knox-class USS Reasoner (FF-1063) frigate. And one of those five Navy sailors who strode up that gangplank during filming was Ronald Beck, at the time a legal yeoman and witness to one of the strangest collisions between the U.S. military and pop culture of the 20th century.

"They picked the ship and they picked us, I don't know why," Beck, who left the Navy in 1982, told Task & Purpose in a phone interview from his Texas home in October. "I was just lucky to be one of 'em picked."

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Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Tuesday casually brushed aside the disturbing news that, holy shit, MORE THAN 100 ISIS FIGHTERS HAVE ESCAPED FROM JAIL.

In an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, Esper essentially turned this fact into a positive, no doubt impressing public relations and political talking heads everywhere with some truly masterful spin.

"Of the 11,000 or so detainees that were imprisoned in northeast Syria, we've only had reports that a little more than a hundred have escaped," Esper said, adding that the Syrian Democratic Forces were continuing to guard prisons, and the Pentagon had not "seen this big prison break that we all expected."



Well, I feel better. How about you?

On Wednesday, the top U.S. envoy in charge of the global coalition to defeat ISIS said much the same, while adding another cherry on top: The United States has no idea where those 100+ fighters went.

"We do not know where they are," James Jeffrey told members of Congress of the 100+ escaped detainees. ISIS has about 18,000 "members" left in Iraq and Syria, according to recent Pentagon estimates.

A senior administration official told reporters on Wednesday the White House's understanding is that the SDF continues to keep the "vast majority" of ISIS fighters under "lock and key."

"It's obviously a fluid situation on the ground that we're monitoring closely," the official said, adding that released fighters will be "hunted down and recaptured." The official said it was Turkey's responsibility to do so.

President Trump expressed optimism on Wednesday about what was happening on the ground in northeast Syria, when he announced that a ceasefire between Turkey and the Kurds was expected to be made permanent.

"Turkey, Syria, and all forms of the Kurds have been fighting for centuries," Trump said. "We have done them a great service and we've done a great job for all of them — and now we're getting out."

The president boasted that the U.S.-brokered ceasefire had saved the lives of tens of thousands of Kurds "without spilling one drop of American blood."

Trump said that "small number of U.S. troops" would remain in Syria to protect oilfields.


Kade Kurita (U.S. Army photo(

Kade Kurita, the 20-year-old West Point cadet who had been missing since Friday evening, was found dead on Tuesday night, the U.S. Military Academy announced early Wednesday morning.

"We are grieving this loss and our thoughts and prayers go out to Cadet Kurita's family and friends," Lt. Gen. Darryl Williams, superintendent of West Point, said in the release.

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Editor's Note: This article by Matthew Cox originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

The U.S. Army's Next Generation Squad Weapon effort looked a lot more possible this week as the three competing weapons firms displayed their prototype 6.8mm rifles and automatic rifles at the 2019 Association of the United States Army's annual meeting.

Just two months ago, the Army selected General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems inc., Textron Systems and Sig Sauer Inc. for the final phase of the NGSW effort — one of the service's top modernization priorities to replace the 5.56mm M4A1 carbine and the M249 squad automatic weapon in infantry and other close-combat units.

Army officials, as well as the companies in competition, have been guarded about specific details, but the end result will equip combat squads with weapons that fire a specially designed 6.8mm projectile, capable of penetrating enemy body armor at ranges well beyond the current M855A1 5.56mm round.

There have previously been glimpses of weapons from two firms, but this year's AUSA was the first time all three competitors displayed their prototype weapons, which are distinctly different from one another.

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