News: Epping, N.H., native continues family tradition with latest transformation
Story by Sgt. Bryan G. Lett
PORTSMOUTH, N.H. - “If you want to, you could have a real easy life,” said Sgt. Michael J. Hatzenbuhler to 24-year-old Epping, N.H., native, Tommy Seaman. However, that didn’t mesh with the goals Tommy had set for himself.
“And I know that I could (have an easy life), but it just didn’t feel right or appeal to me,” said Pfc. Tommy Seaman.
“I was not surprised when Tommy joined the Marines,” said Karen Seaman, his mother. “He has had the Marine Corps flag hanging in his room for years.”
Tommy’s grandfather on his mother’s side was a Marine during the Korean War and would tell Tommy about his experiences and what being a Marine meant to him, Karen said.
“’Once a Marine always a Marine’ was his motto,” Karen said. “Tommy and my dad were very close.”
Tommy was certain and confident enough in his chosen path that even when it slightly changed, his level of determination did not. He enlisted in the Marine Corps with a bachelor’s degree in politics from Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H.
“When he wasn’t chosen for the officer program he was somewhat disappointed, but understood why others were chosen before him,” Karen said. “He said, ‘Why should I get in the program before others who have been in for years?’ I knew then he would join no matter what.”
Just like his mother suspected, Tommy joined anyway and shipped to recruit training on Jan. 7.
“I always wanted to join; it started with my grandfather and I have always been a very competitive person and wanted to serve with the best,” said Tommy. “Once I made the decision no one doubted me or asked another question.”
Reactions to Tommy’s decision were supportive, and perhaps this was never more evident than when his parents, brother, sister and grandparents attended his graduation from recruit training aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C.
Karen had nothing but good things to say about her son’s recruiters.
“The recruiters he was working with were amazing,” she said. “They were so good to him. I can’t say enough good things about them. They seemed to really care about him and getting him ready for boot camp.”
Tommy was recruited out of Recruiting Substation Dover, N.H.,. His recruiter was Hatzenbuhler.
“He joined already performing a near perfect Physical Fitness Test, but never considered himself above the discipline required at the pool functions (training sessions), which he attended regularly,” said Hatzenbuhler. “He always had a smile on his face and was willing to put up with any inconvenience that we asked of him.”
The 2007 graduate of Epping High School graduated recruit training April 5, becoming a United States Marine and following in his grandfather’s footsteps, however, the Parris Island experience was not without a few surprises for him.
“I thought it would be a lot more physical, with more physical training, and I did not expect the hour of free time each night,” said Tommy.
This time quickly turned into letter writing and Tommy’s chance to communicate with his family back home.
“A lot of letters were going back and forth, and I ended up with a large bag full of letters,” said Tommy.
This most certainly was appreciated and enjoyed by his family.
“His letters home were wonderful,” Karen said. “He was very positive and excited about what he was learning and doing. We got a letter once a week. In his letters he usually mentioned some kind of food he wanted and expressed missing sports, especially the Bruins.”
His family greeted each of his letters with anticipation and excitement.
“When we got his first letter and he was so positive I started to realize he was going to be fine through boot camp,” said Karen. “I would rush home to get the mail. My daughter and I would be so excited to get the letter; we wouldn’t even get out of the car, but would read it in the driveway out loud.”
Tommy’s writing didn’t end with his family, as he also found a way to impact the lives of children in his hometown.
“He was also pen pals with a first grade class and our kindergarten class,” said Karen. “They wrote to him a few times and he wrote back to each classroom. The kids loved getting his letters.”
Upon his return home, Tommy visited the classrooms he had been writing to.
“He went to the elementary school and thanked the first graders for writing to him,” said Karen, who is a school teacher. “He also came to my kindergarten class and stayed for our morning meeting where he was a part of the group. The kids asked him lots of questions that he patiently answered, and then they presented him with a diploma for graduating boot camp.
“It was also his birthday, so they made him a card and sang happy birthday to him. The kids want to start writing to him already.”
Karen noticed a few minor changes in her son and Tommy would agree.
“I finally sat at the table the way they tried to teach me for 20 years,” he said. “I’ve noticed I am more assertive and offer my opinion now. I like to just get things done.”
His mother noticed a few other changes.
“He is standing and sitting with a very straight back! He was also eating everything in sight,” his mother added. “He seems so hungry!”
Although Tommy’s ten days off after recruit training and before Marine Combat Training were busy and filled with things to do; he made it to a Bruins game and is currently en route to North Carolina for combat training.
When asked about his feelings about the approaching combat training, Tommy’s answer fell right in line with who he is.
“I am a little nervous,” he said, “but this is what the Marines are about; teaching you how to be an infantryman.”