While Sam Bean was collecting accolades for his prowess at the chess board, a very different type of battle was squaring off in distant places both to the east and to the west of his home in little Alameda, California.
At the same time, his two sons were coming of age, graduating from high school and entering the work world, themselves. The elder son, Sammie junior—who, as we will see shortly, embarked upon a unique career path, himself—had spent his after school hours in Boy Scout projects until his graduation from high school in 1940. Younger son Earle finished his schooling by 1943, and promptly enlisted in the Marine Corps.
Like many military sons of that era, I’m sure Earle was dutifully keeping his family apprised of his progress from boot camp to deployment orders. Oh, how I wish I had a copy of these letters—and wonder why not, considering the determined personality of his surrogate mother, his grandmother Ella Shields Bean.
One letter I did find record of, though, comes from an unexpected source: a historic newspaper archive saving the report of the Oakland Tribune from March 22, 1945:
Alameda, March 22.—“A nick in the jaw I received from a sniper” won Marine Pvt. Earl R. Bean, 19, of 1853 Santa Clara Avenue his Purple Heart medal on Iwo Jima, his family was informed in a letter from the youth to his grandmother, Mrs. E. M. Bean, of the Santa Clara Avenue address.A graduate of Alameda High School in 1943 and a former Boy Scout, Bean entered the Marine Corps a year ago. He is now convalescing at a base hospital in the Marianas.