MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
Cpl. Michael Kean knew from a very young age that he wanted to lead Marines. He knew that the core values the Marines stood for – honor, courage, and commitment – were traits he wanted to emulate.
“I’ve known I wanted to be a Marine since I was six years old,” said Kean a native of Crossville, Tennessee.
Not having a stable father figure growing up, Kean realized that, by joining the Marines, he could be the role model he never had for junior Marines under his care.
Kean joined the Marines at the age of 21 as a landing support specialist with Combat Logistics Regiment 45 out of Marietta, Georgia. Waiting those couple of years after high school to gain life experience seemed to pay off in his leadership skills.
“He’s an outstanding Marine,” said Gunnery Sgt. Khoa Truong, a supply staff noncommissioned officer who has worked closely with Kean during Integrated Training Exercise 4-14, an exercise which placed the Marines in an austere desert environment for annual training. “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 noticed his ability to tackle problems better than most corporals in his situation.
“I like it. I work better under stress,” said Kean.
This is apparent of his situation coping with a wife of two years, a six-year-old son, eight-month-old daughter, working as a volunteer grief counselor and a full-time job working for John Deere. As if his plate weren’t full enough, he is also a part-time college student at Grantham University.
Balancing work and a complicated personal life can be stressful for anyone. For this Reserve Marine the balancing act provides motivation.
Missing his family back home seems to be the biggest drawback. His little girl is learning how to walk and missing those moments has been hard for him. Video chats with his family ease the pain of being apart, 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,” said Kean. “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. Sgt. Matthew Toucey, a landing support specialist with CLR-45, recalls how devoted Kean has always been to his Marines.
“He’s the most intense and most caring person I know,” said Toucey. “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 considers him 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 ITX 4-14. Kean’s role has been vital to the success of the landing support team’s missions, added Toucey.
He is directly responsible for the storage facilities for the air combat element, arrival/departure airfield control group and the unit marshaling area.
His caring demeanor for everyone around him earned him the call sign “Care Bear” while in Afghanistan. “We just wanted to mess with him,” Toucey said laughingly.
It apparently was a good fit because the call sign has stuck with Kean even to this day. It doesn’t bother Kean; he sees it as a term of endearment from his Marine brethren.
Kean’s ultimate goal is to retire from the Marines as an officer but plans on climbing the enlisted ranks first before he crosses over to the commissioned side. Learning how to lead Marines as an noncommissioned officer first before learning how lead them as an officer will only help build upon his ability to lead Marines in the future.