Marine spends break giving thanks, visiting family

After 13 grueling weeks of boot camp in San Diego, California, U.S. Marine Corps Pvt. Sam Beavers is home for a month.

A few days after arriving in Seymour, he stopped by Seymour High School to visit some of his former teachers. He graduated from there in June.

Then he made his way over to Seymour-Redding Elementary School to thank teacher Chata Toppe and her kindergarten class for the note they sent to him while he was at boot camp. He also read a book to them and answered questions. His mom, Dee Beavers, also was there since she’s an English learner teacher at the school.

“I don’t get to do that stuff very often, so it was pretty cool,” the 18-year-old said. “Community service is a big part of the Marine Corps. It’s important, so I wanted to start off my Marine Corps career, my first less than 10 days being out of boot camp, doing community service.”

Dee said it was good to see her son give back in that way.

“Those kids will always remember that experience,” she said.

“I’m hoping in 10 years, I can get at least one Marine out of that. That would be great,” Sam said, smiling.

Wearing his dress blues and cover, Sam received several questions from Toppe and her students about his uniform and boot camp.

Before he left the classroom, Sam held the sign they made for him as they gathered around him for a photo. While at boot camp, he received a picture of the sign in the mail since it was too big to mail.

It reads “Dear Sam, we hope you are doing well at boot camp. Your mom helps us learn every day. Thank you for serving our country, the USA, and for helping to keep us safe. Love, Mrs. Toppe’s K class.”

During boot camp, Marines don’t have access to their phones. Sam only talked to his parents, Dee and Kevin Beavers, via phone when he first arrived in California and on the last week. In between, they communicated via letters.

Sam said he spent a third of his time at boot camp in classes. The rest of the time was spent running, hiking, doing pushups, obstacle courses, workout sets and other physical testing.

How did he get through that?

“Mindset,” he said. “You get to the point where you don’t care that (drill instructors) are screaming at you in your face. They are yelling and screaming at you, but in the end, you can tell by the way they are going about it that they care about you and they want to make you a better person. Even the toughest, hardest ones, they’ll scream at you, and 5 minutes later, they are going to be teaching you a lesson on how to do something.”

Sam made the decision to join the military at the start of his senior year and enlisted in the Marines on Aug. 13, 2022. He chose to focus on military police and was able to intern at the Seymour Police Department.

His interest in law enforcement goes back to elementary school interacting with SPD Officer Tim Toborg while taking the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program.

“I didn’t want to go to college, and law enforcement is what I wanted to do,” Sam said. “I figured the Marine Corps was probably better than anything, especially Marine Corps military police. I spent a lot of summers out West with a lot of Marines. They had a big influence on me. I saw how successful they were and how all of them had 20-plus-year careers in law enforcement and 20-plus-year careers in the military, and I just wanted to give that a shot.”

Dee said she was good with her son’s decision.

“That’s just Sam,” she said. “The second semester of senior year, he just lived out of that police station. I would joke with people, if I wanted him home, it’s like, ‘OK, how do you call the police to tell them your son is spending too much time with the police?’ He loves it. He loved that.”

Once he did his first ridealong with Seymour police, Sam knew he made the right career choice.

“I was worried if I did it and I didn’t like it because I put my entire career plan off of it, and I fell in love with it,” he said.

To prepare for boot camp, Sam spent a year in Sgt. Kevin Dooling’s weekly PT program in Columbus.

“The PT program that he puts on up there every Thursday night is really good,” Sam said. “I had all that time from (enlistment) to when I got shipped to get ready. Going into it, you’re required to do it. A lot of people don’t really keep with it and they pay for it at the end, too, when they get to boot camp.”

When he heads back to California, he will spend a month doing Marine combat training. Then he will head to Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri for military police school, where he will learn about his responsibilities as a police officer at a military base.

“Then I’m off in the fleet, wherever my duty station is,” Sam said. “They’ll assign me a duty station. It could be anywhere from Japan to North Carolina. Everything in the Marine Corps is based off of the need of the Marine Corps.”

His plan is to spend at least four years in the Marine Corps and then work for a civilian police department.

So far, Sam said he has benefited a lot from being in the military.

”Discipline, lots of discipline,” he said. “It has given me something to be proud of, obviously. Like this uniform, I take a lot of pride in it. I’ve only been wearing it every day since I got back.”