John Clark (Tom Clancy character)
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John Kelly was born in 1944 in Indianapolis to Irish American Catholic parents. His father, Timothy Kelly, was a fireman who perished from a heart attack during a fire while saving two children. John lost his mother to cancer when he was a young boy. He attended Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School in Indianapolis.
His first wife, Patricia, for whom his second daughter would eventually be named, was killed in a car accident when her car went under a tractor/trailer unit. She was pregnant at the time.
Six months after his wife died, John Kelly spent a brief period of time in a relationship with Pamela Madden. Pamela was a former prostitute who had been forced into working as a courier for a drug ring, and she worked with Kelly to bring her former captors to justice. Together, they scouted out the area in which Pamela used to work, intending to share the information with a police contact of John's. While there, Pam was spotted by her former captors and a chase ensued. Thinking that he had lost them, Kelly stopped to talk to Pamela. The traffickers, however, caught up to Kelly's vehicle, shot him, and captured Pamela. She was later tortured and murdered, and her body was dumped in a fountain.
While recovering from his injuries at Johns Hopkins Hospital, he met his future second wife, nurse Sandra "Sandy" O'Toole. They eventually had two daughters, Patricia Doris and Margaret Pamela. The girls' middle names were taken from two girls whom Kelly had temporarily rescued from the drug ring, who eventually murdered them. Patricia, a doctor, went on to marry Domingo "Ding" Chavez, who worked with Kelly (who at this point had adopted the identity of John Clark) in the CIA, during a black operation in Colombia (see Clear and Present Danger), and later as an assault team leader. In Rainbow Six, Patricia gave birth to a son, John Conor Chavez, making John a grandfather.
Clark originally joined the Navy during the Vietnam War (as John Terrence Kelly) and became a Navy SEAL who participated in several special operations, one of which was the rescue of a naval aviator shot down over North Vietnam. The aviator was the son of Admiral Dutch Maxwell and his rescue earned Kelly a promotion to Chief Boatswain's Mate. After his first tour of duty, Kelly left the service, but is later re-hired by the Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA) Special Activities Division (Special Operations Group) for another mission in Vietnam; a rescue operation on a secret POW camp. At the same time at home, Kelly is carrying out his own war against a drug ring that killed his girlfriend, Pamela Madden. While he succeeds in taking it down, the Baltimore Police Department (including Emmet Ryan, Jack Ryan's father) eventually identifies him as the man who murdered the drug dealers. In response, Kelly fakes his own death (with the help of the CIA, which falsifies the identity of the fingerprints found at one of the murder scenes) and goes to work for the CIA full-time, under the pseudonym "John Clark". (See Without Remorse) His middle name appears variously with one and two 'R's, and the name "John Terrence Clark" does appear in the novel Clear and Present Danger.
Throughout his career, Clark has been through a number of real-life crisis zones. In addition to the Vietnam War, he has also been through the Iran hostage crisis and the Gulf War, plus a number of missions in the Soviet Union, and claims to have "had Abu Nidal's head in my gunsights", but never got the green light allowing him to kill the man (Clear and Present Danger).
He first enters the Jack Ryan universe in Without Remorse, which contains Officer Emmett Ryan with his son Jack. Although he does not appear in Patriot Games, it is later revealed that he was the CIA's liaison with a French black ops unit involved in the campaign against the ULA. He appears briefly in The Cardinal of the Kremlin, during which he extracts KGB Chairman Gerasimov's wife and daughter from Leningrad after the Chairman decides to defect to the United States. This marks Clark's first published appearance.
In Clear and Present Danger, he commands a U.S. Army black-ops unit carrying out a secret war against the Cali Cartel in Colombia. When the government abandons the men for political reasons, Clark and Jack Ryan fly down to Colombia and rescue the survivors. This is the first time he interacts with Ryan.
In The Sum of All Fears, he is Ryan's personal driver and bodyguard. Later in the novel, he is returned to the field for one operation, electronically bugging the aircraft of the Japanese Prime Minister in Mexico City. During the operation, the terrorist bombing in Denver occurs and his mission is changed to intercepting the Palestinian terrorists trying to escape through Mexico, which he does successfully. He interrogates them and secures their confessions, then hands them over the judicial system for eventual Islamic justice (execution by sword) in Riyadh.
In Debt of Honor, he is again a field officer for the CIA's Directorate of Operations (DO). At the beginning of the novel, he and his partner Domingo Chavez capture an Aidid-like African warlord, Mohammed Abdul Corp, and bring him to justice. Soon thereafter, they are sent to Japan to assess the national mood of the country—Clark is under cover as a Russian reporter. When the situation turns into a war between Japan and America, they establish contacts with the opposition in the Japanese government and are also tasked to eliminate a pair of Japanese AWACS planes.
Clark spends the first half of the next book, Executive Orders, serving as an instructor for CIA field officers in training. Early in the novel, Jack Ryan, the new President, issues a presidential pardon to John Terence Kelly for his several murders. This clears his name and personal honor, but he will continue his career as John Clark. Towards the end of the book, he and Chavez are returned to the field and ordered to discover who is responsible for the Ebola attack on the United States, an action they quickly trace to the new United Islamic Republic (comprising Iran and Iraq). With the cooperation of the Russian SVR, they are infiltrated into Tehran, where they laser-designate the home of UIR dictator Mahmoud Haji Daryaei so that Air Force stealth aircraft can destroy the house.
The next year, Clark writes a memo to the CIA expressing his concerns over the rise of international terrorism since the demise of the Cold War, and recommends creating a NATO response team that could be rapidly deployed in terrorist situations. This special unit is created soon thereafter, with its base in Hereford, Britain. It is code-named Rainbow, and Clark is put in command of the unit with the simulated rank of Major General.
In the book Rainbow Six, Rainbow is first put into operation. It responds successfully to three attacks by "Red" terrorists in Bern, Vienna, and Spain. It also succeeds in defending itself from an attack by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) against its home base. This is eventually determined to have been ordered by a radical eco-terrorist group, which Rainbow tracks down and destroys in the last pages of the novel.
Clark's next appearance is in The Bear and the Dragon, where he is still the head of Rainbow. In the novel, Rainbow is temporarily reassigned from its anti-terrorist duties to the Russian-Chinese war being fought in Siberia. In a joint Rainbow-Spetsnaz operation, he is involved in the destruction of China's only ICBM base. The operation is mostly successful: all but one of the missiles is destroyed, and the last one, while it is fired, is destroyed by the Navy before it can reach its intended target.
Neither Clark nor Rainbow appears in The Teeth of the Tiger, but it is revealed that Rainbow is still operating. Prior to Jack Ryan resigning as President, Clark's Navy Cross was upgraded to the Medal of Honor. During the Medal of Honor ceremony Jack Ryan, Jr. was present in the Oval Office.
Clark returns in Dead or Alive, in which he is part of a Rainbow team that successfully rescues all hostages taken by terrorists at the Swedish embassy in Libya. This proves to be his last act with the CIA, as he is pushed into retirement by Kealty political appointees. He then joins The Campus, an "off-the-books" intelligence agency that Jack Ryan had founded late in his Presidency. Clark is immediately involved with the organization's effort to find and neutralize "The Emir", an international terrorist leader modeled on Osama bin Laden, while also serving as mentor and trainer to Jack's son Jack Jr., a Campus analyst who wants to do field work.
In Locked On, Clark continues his work with The Campus as Jack Ryan Sr. runs for election against President Kealty. The Campus's efforts focus on a new terrorist kingpin based in Pakistan, General Riaz Rehan, who works to orchestrate a coup in Pakistan. While The Campus works to interfere with Rehan, Clark finds himself the target of a government manhunt and private intelligence trackers, forcing him to go on the run. Instead of going into hiding, Clark works to clear his name in Eastern Europe, while the remaining Campus operators work to foil Rehan's designs on Pakistan. Clark is successfully in tracking the allegations back to a rogue operation between SVR officer Valentin Kovalenko and Czech-American billionaire Pavel "Paul" Laska; the latter of which, having discovered through the imprisonment of the Emir, the involvement of Clark, Chavez, Ryan Jr. and Caruso in his capture, and so worked with Kovalenko and his agents to pass the information about Clark's technically illegal activities to President Kealty and his supporters in the US government, resulting in a manhunt that would damage Ryan's image during the election. Clark is able to get this information to The Campus, but is captured shortly after. Kovalenko and his men torture Clark for information on his employers, but Clark is saved without giving any information up by Russian FSB internal security officers, led by its director Stanislav Biryukov - Clark's Russian counterpart. After working out a deal with Biryukov to expose and bring down Laska, Clark works with Rainbow to foil terrorists' attempts to launch a nuclear weapon at Moscow.
In Threat Vector, it is established Clark has been completely exonerated and has returned to his life - a public apology by outgoing U.S. President Kealty, and the revelation the world's press were being manipulated by elements of Russian intelligence, results in the matter being dropped quickly. After an operation to eliminate a group of former Libyan military intelligence operatives, Clark, still recovering from his injuries suffered by Kovalenko and his men, combined with his increasing age, decides it is time to properly retire - and submits his resignation to the Campus. Later, however, Clark temporarily returns to the Campus after an attack by Chinese Special Forces, and with the Campus operators, travels to China (calling in his favor with the Russian FSB for the support and equipment needed for their mission) and works with local rebels to assassinate Chairman Su Ke Qiang - effectively ending the Second America-China War.
Outside the novels, John Clark's career continues further in the Rainbow Six video game series. In Rainbow Six: Critical Hour, John retires and passes the leadership of Team Rainbow on to his son-in-law, Domingo "Ding" Chavez. In the next video game, Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Vegas, although Ding Chavez appears in the game, as Rainbow commander, no mention is made of John Clark.
John Clark has been awarded the Navy Cross, Silver Star with an oak leaf cluster, Bronze Star with Valor devices with 3 oak leaf clusters, three Purple Hearts and four Intelligence Stars. He is also recipient of the Medal of Honor, awarded and presented to him by Jack Ryan (then President of the U.S.) for the rescue of a downed fighter pilot during his time in Vietnam (see Without Remorse). He is a simulated major general in the Rainbow Six book, though he only reached the rank of Chief Boatswain's Mate (Chief Petty Officer) during his Naval career.
Clark has a small tattoo of a red seal, sitting up on its hind flippers "grinning impudently," on his forearm. Though no other visual details are given, a comment made by Lieutenant Colonel Daniel "Bear" Malloy in Rainbow Six indicated that at least some of the Ryanverse Special Operations community had heard of the red seal tattoo and understood that it was associated with the Third Special Operations Group (SOG), with whom Clark served during the Vietnam War. Clark stated that everyone in his unit got the tattoo. In the real world, having such a tattoo would violate operations security (OPSEC) (however, similar tattoos are not particularly uncommon, so long as the tattoo is not specifically unit identifiable). Also, the Third Special Operations Group is not a real military unit (however, a similarly named group, the "Studies and Observation Group" MACV-SOG, which had initially been named the "Special Operations Group"; was active in Vietnam, in the types of operations and environments referenced in the series; and had Navy SEALs among its personnel) . The symbol of the red seal is actually the unit insignia for SEAL Team 1.
Parallels can be drawn between John Clark and Jack Ryan, who both exist within the same fictional universe. Clark is more capable of bending the rules and operating outside the law than Ryan is, so Clancy uses him in grittier roles. Clark also loathes the "desk work" that Ryan typically finds himself "at home" doing. Clancy himself has stated that John Clark is the "dark side" of Jack Ryan.
The character John Clark appears in the following books:
- The Cardinal of the Kremlin (1988)
- Clear and Present Danger (1989)
- The Sum of All Fears (1991)
- Without Remorse (1993)
- Debt of Honor (1994)
- Executive Orders (1996)
- Rainbow Six (1998)
- The Bear and the Dragon (2000)
- Dead or Alive (2010)
- Locked On (2011)
- Threat Vector (2012)
- Command Authority (2013)
On film, John Clark has been portrayed by Willem Dafoe in Clear and Present Danger and Liev Schreiber in The Sum of All Fears. As of now Paramount is trying to get Without Remorse off the ground - the screenplay has to be written yet, a director has to be picked and it still needs a budget. Currently there is not an actor attached to play John Clark, although reportedly Paramount is interested in pursuing Tom Hardy.
In the 1996 novel Executive Orders, Clark sarcastically suggests to reporter Robert Holtzman "Get Val Kilmer to play me in the movies" to which Holtzman replies "Too pretty, Nick Cage has a better stare."
Various directors, screenwriters, and actors have been involved in attempts to film other novels in which John Clark appears, but none of these movies were produced.
- Ge, Linda. "Tom Hardy sought for Jack Ryan spinoff "Without Remorse"". http://upandcomers.net/2012/08/20/tom-hardy-sought-for-jack-ryan-spinoff-without-remorse/. Retrieved 21 August 2012.