Mary Elizabeth “Betty” Clarke was born in December 1924. After graduating from Rochester West High School, she became a secretary and then a defense worker before enlisting in the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) in August 1945. After completing basic training, Clarke was sent to Berlin, Germany, in 1948, serving with the Berlin Brigade during the Berlin Airlift crisis. In September 1949, she completed WAC Officer Candidate School and was commissioned as a second lieutenant. She then traveled to Tokyo and became a commanding officer of a WAC unit. Upon returning to the U.S., she served in various positions in several states, as well as Washington, D.C., where she worked with the Office of Equal Opportunity and at the Pentagon. In 1972, now a colonel, Clarke was assigned as the commander of the U.S. WAC Center and School in Fort McClellan, Alabama. She was then appointed as the department director of the WAC Advisory Office before being promoted to brigadier general and becoming the last director of the WAC before it was dissolved in 1978. Clarke was promoted to major general in November 1978, becoming the first woman to attain this rank. She oversaw the movement of the U.S Army Chemical School to Fort McClellan, Alabama, where she was appointed as the commander of the U.S Army Military Police and Chemical Schools. This made her the first woman to ever command a major military installation. She retired in 1981 after 36 years of serving the country—the longest of any woman in U.S Army history at the time.