Kate Stark, USMC 1981-1987
Kate Stark was born in Gainesville, Fl., to owner-operators of an answering service. She graduated from high school in 1978, then attended the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale in Florida, earning an Associate of Science degree in Photojournalism.
In 1981, after viewing the movie “Stripes,” she decided that seeing the world on Uncle Sam’s dime would be a good idea. She interviewed recruiters and because the Marine recruiter seemed the most enthusiastic, she chose the United States Marine Corps. After a grueling boot camp in which her platoon (which had started out with 84 recruits) graduated with only 22, she attended the Basic Journalism Course at the Defense Information School, Fort Benjamin Harrison, Ind., in 1982.
Her first duty station as a 4321 (Press Information Man) was MCRD San Diego, where she honed her writing and photography skills while learning to be a Marine. Though she loved her job, she found the Corps to be too bureaucratic at times. One particular incident, she recalls, is getting the orders that all female Marines must wear skirts as the uniform of the day. She reasonably asked for an exception to this order knowing that as a photographer, she must be able to climb on top of things, crawl on the ground, and do anything to get the right image. Her request was denied. So, during the next recruit parade, Corporal Stark stubbornly shot her assignment in the skirt, without regard to modesty, and inadvertently flashed the troops. Several hours after the parade, word came down from the chief of staff that Cpl. Stark could wear trousers when on assignment. (See the hill, take the hill).
While at the Chevron she returned to DINFOS to complete the Intermediate Photojournalism course in 1983, and earned a Navy Achievement Medal in 1984. She attended the Military Photojournalism Program at Syracuse University, Syracuse, N.Y. during 1984-85 and was assigned to the Fourth Marine Division in New Orleans with a newly created MOS of 4322 (Photographic Journalist). She was a photojournalist for the Continental Marine and the Crescent City Marine and returned to DINFOS in 1987 for the Editor’s Course.
Her choice of using initials in her byline (Sgt. KV Stark) was a by-product of the times. She could get better assignments for field work if no one relalised she was female until all the arrangements had been made. Once, an infantry lieutenant called the Public Affairs office and yelled, “I can’t have a female out here with all these men!” to which her Gunny replied, “Then you won’t have coverage.” She was a Marine who wanted to do her job, and luckily got plenty of backup from her office.
In 1987, Sergeant Stark was a contributing editor when the Continental Marine won a Thomas Jefferson Award for Best News Magazine. Other awards include the USMCCCA Distinguished Performance (now called Merit) awards in: 1984- Honorable Mention, feature photo; Honorable Mention, feature story; 1986- First Place, feature story; 1987- First place and Honorable Mention, photojournalism.
She left active duty Nov. 30, 1987, and worked as a photographer aboard the cruise ship TSS Fairsky. After several jobs, in several states, as photographer and graphics designer, she joined the staff of Leatherneck Magazine, Quantico, Virg., in 1990 as associate editor and then art director.
In 1994, she designed and photographed most of the images, for the book “Home of the Commandants” published by the Marine Corps Association and said goodbye to Leatherneck Magazine. She was hired as the News and Graphics editor by the Telegram-Tribune, a Scripps Howard newspaper in San Luis Obispo, Calif. Several years later, she earned a special award for the best newspaper redesign from Scripps Howard.
Having met the challenges of a daily newspaper, Stark decided it was time for a change so in 1998 she became the assistant managing editor of graphics and design for a newly consolidated European-Pacific Stars and Stripes, located in the National Press Building, Washington, D.C.
After 14 months, she left journalism to join Unisys Corporation as a publishing consultant. She is currently a certified Adobe Expert in InDesign CS, and specializes in database-oriented publishing systems, for newspapers, magazines and other media, world-wide.
A life member of the USMCCCA, she has attended 12 conferences since 1982, and was on the board of directors from 1992-93. She received the Donald L. Dickson Memorial Award in 2001 for her role in helping to put USMCCCA on the internet. She is currently the webmaster of the official website for USMC Combat Correspondents, www.usmccca.org.
She is single, has no children (that she knows of) and is currentlly doing freelance graphic design, photography, web design. Her website is: www.kvstark.com.