Face of Defense: Corporal Follows Dream of Leading Marines
By Marine Corps Sgt. Adwin Esters
U.S. Marine Corps Forces Reserve
MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif., July 9, 2014 From a very young age, Marine Corps Cpl. Michael Kean said, he knew he wanted to lead Marines, because the core values the Marines stand for -- honor, courage, and commitment -- were traits he wanted to emulate.
Marine Corps Cpl. Michael Kean, right, discusses the instructions for the day with a fellow Marine during a desert training exercise, June 16, 2014. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Adwin Esters
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
“I’ve known I wanted to be a Marine since I was 6 years old,” the Crossville, Tennessee, native said.
Kean said he never had a stable father figure while he was growing up, and that he realized that joining the Marines could enable him to be the role model he never had for junior Marines under his care.
He enlisted at age 21 and served as a landing support specialist with Combat Logistics Regiment 45 out of Marietta, Georgia. Waiting a couple of years after high school, he said, gave him life experience that seemed to pay off in his leadership skills.
“He’s an outstanding Marine,” said Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Khoa Truong, a supply staff noncommissioned officer who has worked closely with Kean during Integrated Training Exercise 4-14, an annual desert training exercise. “He does nothing but drive above and beyond his required duty and has been filling the role of someone above his rank. He gives me 100 percent every day.”
Truong said he noticed Kean’s ability to tackle problems better than most corporals in his situation.
“I like it. I work better under stress,” Kean said.
Kean is a busy man. He and his wife of two years have a 6-year-old son and an 8-month-old daughter. He works as a volunteer grief counselor and has a full-time job working for a tractor manufacturer. He’s also a part-time college student at Grantham University.
Balancing work and a complicated personal life can be stressful for anyone, but this Marine reservist said the balancing act provides motivation.
Missing his family back home seems to be the biggest drawback, he said. His little girl is learning how to walk, he added, and missing those moments has been hard for him. Video chats with his family ease the pain of being apart, he said, but sometimes he has to explain the necessity of his job to his wife.
“She’s a great Marine wife. I just explain to her that I don’t want my lance corporals to suffer while they are out here,” Kean said. “They are just as important to me as my own family.”
Even in the midst of his juggling act, Kean still finds time to motivate and inspire those around him.
“He’s the most intense and most caring person I know,” said Marine Corps Sgt. Matthew Toucey, a landing support specialist with CLR 45. “He is never afraid to go to bat for the Marines under his charge. If he were pinned sergeant tomorrow, he’d be more than ready for that role.”
Toucey deployed with Kean to Afghanistan in 2010-2011, and Kean said he considers the sergeant to be a good friend and mentor. On top of his standard corporal duties, Toucey added, Kean has been filling the billet of a sergeant or above, facilitating all of the training that has been going on during the desert exercise. Kean’s role has been vital to the success of the landing support team’s missions, he said, as the corporal is directly responsible for the storage facilities for the air combat element, the arrival and departure airfield control group and the unit marshaling area.
His caring demeanor for everyone around him earned Kean the call sign “Care Bear” while in Afghanistan.
“We just wanted to mess with him,” Toucey said with a laugh. It apparently was a good fit, because the call sign has stuck with Kean even to this day. The corporal said he sees it as a term of endearment from his Marine brethren.
Kean said his goal is to retire from the Marines as an officer, but that he plans on climbing the enlisted ranks first. Learning how to lead Marines as a noncommissioned officer first before learning how lead them as an officer, he explained, will help to build his ability to lead Marines in the future.