By Steve Jusseaume
Hampton Union, Tuesday, January 15, 2002
[Staff photo by Emily Reily]
HAMPTON — The other day, Phil Bean recalled first hearing early on Sept. 11 that two planes had slammed into the twin World Trade Towers, the first hint that something in America was changing. And drastically.
"When I was told that I thought it was a joke. Watching all that unfold on TV was somehow surreal," he remembered.
Since that day he had it in the back of his mind that he might eventually be involved. A Marine reservist, Bean knew the possibility existed that he might be called back to active duty, unrealistic though it seemed. A single father, 44, with a business to run and two teenagers to raise, he thought the odds long on being recalled. But two days before Christmas that possibility turned into reality, and last week he knew for sure, he was going to the Middle East.
Last night Bean, a long-time Hampton resident with a grown daughter, a son in college and a daughter who's a sophomore at Winnacunnet High School, was scheduled to leave for Tampa, where he'll receive his orders and likely end up somewhere in the Middle East, "somewhere in the sand," though he's not sure where.
He read his orders aloud over a beer at the Beach House restaurant Saturday. "Ordered to report for further instructions... Involuntary mobilization in support of Operation Noble Eagle/Enduring Freedom... 12 months or up to two years," he read, shaking his head.
"I'm way too old for this."
Bean seems a natural to be called up. He spent four years on active duty with the 2nd Marine Division from 1983 to 1987. He was a field grade officer specializing in mountain and Arctic warfare, serving with the special operations training group in the Sierras, Greenland and in Norway with the British Royal Marines and the Dutch Royal Marines. He also served in Korea for a month during Desert Storm.
Like most reservists, Bean knew there was always the chance he'd be called.
"Every Marine, they all know they're just a phone call away," he said, noting that fully one-half of America's military preparedness consists of reservists.
"It would be impossible to fulfill the Armed Services' commitment without reservists," he said. "Everybody's in the barrel waiting for their turn.
"And this is a long-term war and everybody will get their turn.
"The support I've received from the business, from my family and from the town has been great. This is a world-class community with world-class people," Bean added.
At Bean Insurance off Lafayette Road, Phil's two brothers, Bob and Scott, will handle affairs during his absence. As far as the kids go, his 24-year-old daughter Jackie moved here from Boston as soon as she heard, and will stay as long as needed to help with the house and her brother Alexander, 18, and sister Samantha, a WHS sophomore.
"All three of my kids stepped right up. They're tough kids. Their unity and cohesion has been unbelievable," Bean said.
And Bob and Scott know what it's about. The Bean family knows the nature of the military. Bean's father served in World War II and Korea and his three brothers have all served, in the Marines, the Coast Guard and the Army.
His fiancee has also been supportive. Sheila Lynch, a vice president with the 99 Restaurant Corporation, has "been awesome about all this."
In fact, the couple was recently in Washington, D.C., and drove by the Pentagon.
"Seeing that just reinforces my resolve," he said.
One of three reservists in his 50-man unit to be reactivated, Bean said he hasn't had to make too many preparations.
"A state of preparation is a core part of your life," he said. "While this came out of the blue, as a Marine you always have your sea bag packed. I keep two packed bags in the house."And that everyone around him has lined up in support, including the Hampton community, doesn't surprise Bean. "This challenge only validates the core decisions in your life, the basic decisions I've made," he said. Bean has no apprehensions about going. "It's a double-edged sword. I'm ready to go, but I'll miss my kids, this community. But no, I have no fear. The real fear is that the nature of warfare has changed so much," Bean said. "The innocent and defenseless become targets, there are no traditional battle lines anymore. This kind of war touches everybody. And I have every confidence this worldwide terrorist will be destroyed completely. "A 44-year-old father and businessman is going. If that doesn't speak to this new paradigm, nothing does."