My Dad is a Marine

Base Info
Col. Clifford D. Chen, who is currently stationed on Okinawa, and his daughter, Summer, mug for the camera a few years back. Courtesy photo
Col. Clifford D. Chen, who is currently stationed on Okinawa, and his daughter, Summer, mug for the camera a few years back. Courtesy photo

My Dad is a Marine

by: Tetsuo Nakahara | .
Stripes Kanto | .
published: May 01, 2013

Without a doubt, children in the military community are a resourceful group who endure many challenges their peers in the civilian world don’t. There is the constant moving to new duty stations and separation from parents on deployment. But as you’ve read in this paper and at during April’s Month of the Military Child, this group of youngsters is proud of what they are and that their parents proudly serve their country.

But not all kids know exactly what their parents do in the military, and sometimes it might be hard for service members to explain it in a way a child can understand. That is why Marine Col. Clifford D. Chen , AC/S Aviation Ground Support Dept. 1st Marine Aircraft Wing Okinawa, has written and illustrated a series of books that helps explain what service members do.  Chen, currently serving on an unaccompanied tour on Okinawa, said he wanted to write and illustrate a simple book that would explain to his daughter Summer what he did. Below are Chen’s thoughts behind his “My Dad is a Marine” series, which is available online at

Q: How and why did you start to write and illustrate the book?
A: I started to write and illustrate the book as a fun way to explain to my daughter what my job was.  I like to doodle and had been drawing cartoonish pictures of Marines, so the idea developed from there.  My daughter was in kindergarten at the time and she didn’t really know what a Marine was or even what the military did.  I was particularly inspired when I went to pick her up from school in uniform and one of her classmates pointed at me and shouted “Hawaii Army National Guard.”  It seemed that very few civilian children or even perhaps Marine kids had an understanding of who Marines were.  I started doing some drawings when she was in kindergarten but didn’t actually develop a finished product until about 6 years of off and on dabbling.  I started by giving electronic copies away to people in my office, but they encouraged me to actually publish it.

Q: What do you want to teach children the most from your book?   
A: I want them to know their parents have an important job that can be difficult for them with an understanding that it is hard on the children, too, but that we always love our children more than anything in the world.  We do this job because it is our duty and our calling to serve our nation.

Q: What’s your take on military children? 
A: Military children have a challenging lifestyle that would be difficult for anybody. They are special because they continue to love and provide support to their parents and they are part of a very small percentage of the American people who are connected to the military.

Q: What do you want children to learn from the military community? 
A: Their parents have all kinds of jobs (as) Marines, and each one is important. The military community is an extended family that is there to support them.

Q: What advice would you give parents raising children in military community?  
A: I would say do everything you can to love and support your children because they are living a more challenging lifestyle than any of their peers.

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