(Host) Bridport, the small town in the rolling farmland between Middlebury and Lake Champlain, is home to the family of Specialist Alan Bean. His parents described him as a man with a big personality – someone you wouldn’t forget.
They shared some of their memories and reflections with VPR’s Nina Keck.
(Keck) Alan and Kim Bean point to a recent family photograph hanging on the wall in their Bridport living room. Their 22-year-old son Alan is wearing his National Guard uniform. His mother Kim says her son felt very proud to be serving his country.
(Kim Bean) “He loved it, he loved being a part of it. He was a funny child. He just – if you were having a bad day, he’d do something to snap you out of it. You couldn’t help but laugh, he just knew the things to do or say that would turn you around in a heartbeat. And I just can’t imagine what’s going to happen without that.”
(Keck) Before moving to Bridport three years ago, the Beans lived in Charlotte. Alan went to Champlain Valley Union High School. His father says he dropped out his senior year, got his high school equivalency degree and joined the National Guard, where he was trained as a convoy escort.
(Alan Bean, Sr.) “He liked guns, he liked the war games. And when he went into basic I thought it would be a good builder for him. And it was – it made him a hell of a man.”
(Keck) Alan had never traveled or been out of the country before. His mother says that was part of what intrigued him about joining the military – he wanted to see more of the world. When his company was deployed in January, Kim says her son was both excited and scared.
(Kim Bean) “He was afraid of flying, so when it came to fly to Iraq, he was really nervous. He called us from the airport that morning and we talked to him before he flew over to Iraq. And so these are things you’re always going to remember, now.”
(Keck) He was a big kid, say his mother – over six feet tall with red hair and brown eyes. He gave great big bear hugs, she adds softly and kids loved him.
(Alan Bean, Sr.) “He loved to hunt, hunt and fish. And he liked trucks and cars and to tinker with stuff. Country music – he loved his country music. Biggest red neck you’d ever meet. A good friend of his told me today, Bean was a rusty truck and a six pack of beer. And he was happy.”
(Keck) Alan Bean says his son talked about becoming a police officer or state trooper when he finished his tour in the military. He pauses after saying this then leans toward the microphone.
(Alan Bean, Sr.) “I want people to know him for who he was. Not just a face and a name on the TV screen or in the paper. I want people to remember who he was. You can remember Alan as being bigger than life. He was just there. People that met him once remembered him because his personality was so big. He touched so many people.”
(Keck) Alan and Kim say they do have one thing that they’re grateful for – their new grandson who lives in Maine. Their late son Alan left behind a son he never got a chance to meet. Gabriel Alan Bean was born the day after his father landed in Iraq. The Beans say they’re not certain when their son’s remains will be returned home and so no funeral has yet been planned.
For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Nina Keck.