Military Hero - Shawn Bear - Marine Corps
2.23.21 Military Hero
Shawn Bear - Marine Corps
“The one common factor is everyone’s searching for something more, something that’s more than themselves, something that’s more than just a normal job.”
That’s exactly what Shawn Bear was searching for when he decided to enlist the Marine Corps in 2004. He was 18-years-old and had recently graduated from high school.
Shawn grew up in Bakersfield, CA, with his mom and three sisters. His father left when he was about 6 months old. As the only man in the household, Shawn says he always felt like he was searching for a missing piece.
The Marine Corps’ mentorship opportunity and camaraderie drew Shawn in, he felt he would have the opportunity to learn from male leaders and develop a sense of belonging and structure.
As for his Clippers fandom, Shawn says a lot of his childhood friends in Bakersfield were fans of one of the LA basketball teams. Shawn chose the Clippers because they resonated with him more. A bit blue-collar, gritty, a ‘just go out and play’ philosophy. He says the team was a metaphor for his life.
Shawn didn’t have a lot of money or resources growing up. The way he followed the Clippers was by checking scores in the newspaper. Then later, when his family got the internet, he would watch play-by-play on AOL dial-up.
After joining the Marine Corps, Shawn was sent to San Diego for basic training. He recalls the training was tough. Training at the San Diego facility is widely regarded as the toughest boot camp among branches of the military. When he questioned whether he should have gone to college instead of the Marines, Shawn had the Clippers to keep up, a welcome source of motivation to help him through. Upon completion of training, Shawn was assigned the job of Postal Clerk, which meant he would handle mail for all Marines on the bases where he was stationed.
After Postal Clerk School in Fort Jackson, South Carolina, Shawn was sent to Iwakuni, Japan. Shortly thereafter, Shawn was promoted and on his first deployment to Al Taqqadum, Iraq in 2006. For seven months Shawn’s job was to go on convoys to set up mobile Post Offices at the various smaller bases, as well as the main base. Shawn says he quickly became everyone’s best friend as those letters, delivered and sent, were an essential part of keeping the Marines connected to home and boosting morale.
Aside from his meaningful work, Shawn’s morale booster during deployment was watching Clippers games! Even when games were on at 2:00 am in Japan, Shawn would make a point to watch.
“To me, no matter what I’m going through, it’s a time to take a two to three-hour break to forget about everything else and just watch the Clippers play, win or lose.”
Shawn’s morale got another boost when he started getting letters and care packages from a family friend. Shawn and Sara met about six months before Shawn enlisted, through a twist of fate when Shawn’s uncle’s best friend married Sara’s mom. Sara’s letters pulled Shawn through some challenging times in Iraq and four letters into their exchange he asked her to be his girlfriend.
They dated for a year and only saw each other twice, but the connection was undeniable. Shawn was sent back to Japan after his deployment to Iraq, while in Japan he invited Sara to visit. The visit became the trip of a lifetime when Shawn proposed.
After two years in Japan, Shawn reported to Camp Pendleton, CA. He and Sara were married before Shawn was promoted and deployed for another seven months to Camp Ramadi, Iraq early in 2009. This time leaving behind his new wife and newborn son.
“In the Iraq war and Afghanistan war, to be able to fight and win those wars, it’s all morale boosts. You have to be able to be in the right state of mind and be able to hear back from your family,” Shawn says of the importance of mail during the wars. “Just like the Clippers games, it’s all about having that moment where you’re not in Iraq anymore, you’re in LA, in the STAPLES Center watching the game or you’re with your loved ones in that letter.”
In 2010, after returning from Iraq, Shawn reported to Miramar, San Diego, CA. He served as Operations Chief and Postal Finance Chief. He received two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals for his work there, was promoted to Sergeant, and his second son was born.
Being not too far from San Diego State University, Shawn kept up with SDSU basketball, where a young player by the name of Kawhi Leonard was on the team.
In 2016, Shawn reported to 29 Palms, CA. He was promoted to Staff Sergeant, served as Installation Postal Chief, received the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, and his daughter was born.
The Clippers have been there every step of the way for Shawn. Now as a family man, he is raising his kids to be Clippers fans. Another accomplishment was coaching his older son’s basketball team, which they called the Clippers, to a championship in 29 Palms.
In 2018, Shawn was given the opportunity to try a new career, recruiting. He reported to Stockton, CA where he currently serves as a Production Recruiter. He’s recruited 25-30 people into the Marine Corps and still keeps in touch with all of them.
“Whatever job you have in the Marine Corps, the common denominator is you’re a Marine. You joined something bigger than you. We all have a piece in protecting the nation, we all have a piece in keeping this country safe.”