Darin Clay served in the United States Marine Corps from 1983 through 2005 before retiring and joining Fairbanks Morse where he is Controller for Aftermarket, Services and Solutions.
During his 21-year military career, Darin served in multiple positions and had a range of experiences. He enlisted right out of high school and began as an artillery forward observer and a naval gunfire spotter. After nearly two years, Darin was assigned to the Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company (ANGLICO) unit, an elite Marine Corps team responsible for coordinating, synchronizing and deconflicting air strikes and artillery fires for the Joint, Allied or Coalition forces. In this capacity, he served on a liaison team to support the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division. Darin rose through the ranks and was commissioned as second lieutenant and Naval Aviation Flight Training. As a Naval Aviator he served as a Tactical Plane Commander, conducting many international operations of the KC-130 aircraft. He served as the Operations Officer Department of an Aircraft Group and oversaw the training and operational budgets for an F/A-18 and a KC-130 squadron.
Darin attended the University of Wisconsin- Madison through the Marine Corps Enlisted Commissioning Education Program (MECEP), where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. He would later return to the University of Wisconsin to be an assistant professor and Marine Officer Instructor for their NROTC program before retiring. In retirement, he earned a Master of Professional Accountancy degree from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and a Master of Science in Management at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He is also a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).
While serving as a Global Aviation Operations Officer and flying KC-130s, Darin had the chance to participate in training missions over the U.S., Europe, Africa, and Asia. His team’s main responsibility while serving in this position was to refuel tactical jet and helicopter aircraft while in the air. He also executed tactical flights at 200 ft. or less to air drop personnel and equipment among other thrilling missions.
“We did many night vision goggle operations where we would take off from land and do our missions at night without light, only relying on the goggles. Looking back on my career, I was able to have a lot of fun experiences,” said Darin.
One of Darin’s favorite missions was when his team flew an aircraft across the globe, escorting a plane and crucial parts to Okinawa, Japan. Due to the escorted plane’s limited flight distances and needing land to refuel, the team had to travel east from the US to Japan instead of the shorter Western route. This mission took place over a two week span and started on the U.S. East Coast, where Darin and his team then traveled across Europe, Africa, and Asia and then over the Pacific Ocean where they landed on the West Coast at the end of their mission. Throughout the mission they landed in 13 different countries.
“It was one of the highlights of my career,” Darin said of the mission.
Throughout his time in the military, Darin was able to experience more than just daring missions. He gained a great amount of respect for his comrades throughout his career and considers the unity of the Marine Corps to be one of its greatest selling points.
“I liked the Marine Corps and they appealed to me because it is a small and close-knit community, it’s a brotherhood,” said Darin.
Darin has been at Fairbanks Morse for five years and started as a Finance Manager for the Aftermarket Service team. In his current role as Controller, Darin serves as a finance representative and subject matter expert for the business operations of the Aftermarket team.
“I enjoy the Aftermarket team that I support as they do incredibly good work. They’re incredibly professional and the work that they do is valuable to our customers,” said Darin. “As they support our military customers, I enjoy supporting them because they are so good at what they do.”
By serving in the Marine Corps, Darin not only gained leadership skills that he uses in his current role, his background also allows him to be able to connect with Fairbanks Morse’s military customers and to continue to support the U.S. military.
“I think my military service prepared me for the role that I am currently in at Fairbanks Morse better than I otherwise might have been able to,” said Darin. “It allows me to relate to our military customers better than if I might not have served in the military. It’s a personal connection.”