Monday, May 6, 2013

A Nick in the Jaw


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.



10 comments:

  1. A nick?!?! That's a little too close for comfort.

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    1. He was rather understated, wasn't he?!

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  2. Sam's son Earle won a purple heart at Iwo Jima?? That is astounding. I'm just sayin' -- a book about Sam and his family . . .

    I hope that someone in the family has a stash of Earle's letters, and I hope that they find their way to you.

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    1. Mariann, you are so kind to be so encouraging! I do hope to put something in print on Sam's behalf sometime soon. So much research yet to do, though. Even though I doubt there is any remaining stash of letters, thankfully, there are local genealogical society resources I've yet to mine.

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  3. A year ago I featured a series of old service hospital related photos.. Leyte and what could be a care facility in the Marianas or some other island. It begins here. http://forgottenoldphotos.blogspot.com/2011/10/photo-number-691.html

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    1. Far Side, I remember that series. I think when you ran that series of photos, I was still posting on my father-in-law, who, coincidentally, was in the same battle (though he was serving with the Navy at the time). I looked carefully for both Frank Stevens and Earl Bean (he dropped the "e" once he enlisted), hoping to find something...but no luck...

      Hopefully, others seeing this link you've provided will take a look at the photos and list of names on your blog, spread the word, and help you find some family members of those servicemen and nurses.

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  4. Saying a "nick" makes it sound so minor and yet it was worthy of a hospital stay and a purple heart. I would sure like to know more. I love the bits and pieces that we find about our ancestors, but they always always always leave me wanting to know more. Great find and post Jacqi.

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    1. Thanks so much, Michelle! And you're right: no matter how much information we find, it always leaves us clamoring for more!

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  5. That was literally a close shave.

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