Avenue of Heroes: Stephen S. Clarey
Written by the Clarey family
Rear Admiral Stephen Clarey was born in Honolulu in 1940 to a Navy family, the son of the late Admiral Bernard A. Clarey and Jean Scott Clarey. He and his mother, who had lived in Coronado in the 1920s and 1930s, arrived in Coronado in 1942 shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor, where they spent the rest of the war. Clarey attended Miss Bunny McKenzie’s nursery school in Coronado, which she, in a congratulatory appeal several years later, attributed to her transformation into a Navy flag officer. Growing up, he led the life of a typical service junior, attending 13 schools including Sacred Heart and Coronado Middle School, before graduating from Punahou School in Honolulu and later Williams College and Harvard Business. School.
Clarey joined the Navy two weeks after graduating from Williams and received her commission from the Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island. His initial sea service was in destroyers, and he served two deployments to the Gulf of Tonkin during the Vietnam War. While providing naval gunfire support to Navy and Army forces near the DMZ, his ship repeatedly came under fire from North Vietnamese shore batteries.
In addition to several tours at the Pentagon in Navy strategic planning and financial management, Clarey had four commands at sea. As a general officer, he deployed twice to the Persian Gulf during the first Gulf War. . He commanded the United States Maritime Prepositioning Force during Operation Desert Shield. Deploying again from the west coast in December 1990, he commanded the Pacific Fleet Amphibious Task Force/5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade consisting of 18 ships and over 7,000 marines. In February 1991, these Marines were offloaded to northeastern Saudi Arabia where they joined the coalition’s ground campaign for the liberation of Kuwait during Operation Desert Storm.
Clarey has been active in community and civic affairs since retiring from the Navy. He served as president of USO San Diego and helped establish the permanent USO Welcome Center at San Diego International Airport. He is a longtime member of the Executive Committee of the University of California, San Diego, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, and oversees academic and marketing programs.