Honoring a local veteran: Clarke Bugbee’s experience in the navy


Ava Wilson

AWHS Physics and Environmental Science teacher and Navy veteran Clarke Bugbee.

Every year on Nov. 11, all throughout the country people celebrate Veterans Days, a Federal Holiday meant to honor those who have served in the U.S. military. Veterans Day is a day to commemorate  all veterans, especially those in our community. Clarke Bugbee is an AWHS science teacher who served in the U.S. Navy for five years. He joined the service in 1984, when he was 17 years old. 

Bugbee was sworn into the military at age 16 and began his service at the age of 17. In 1984, he traveled from Marin County to Chicago for bootcamp, spent time in Virginia training, and was eventually stationed in San Diego before any deployments. Having gone to train for the military after high school, he knew he was not mentally ready for college and would have not done well.

“I was not going to go to college right out of high school; I would not have been successful,” Bugbee said.  

Raised in Marin County, Bugbee attended San Rafael High School. His experience in the Navy helped him mature, as he was living on his own in a demanding military environment. Given heavy loads of responsibility, Bugbee remembers experiencing many people in his squad, as well as superiors, counting on him for the first time.

 “Coming from a place of not having a lot of responsibility and wanting to…do my own thing and party and all those things, all of a sudden…it’s time to get to work…When you’re doing your job, everybody counts on you,” Bugbee said.

Throughout serving, Bugbee’s main job was working on an aircraft carrier as a radar navigator. He was responsible for navigation, keeping account of other objects in the water, and most prominently anti-submarine warfare. 

Although Bugbee loved what he was doing, he knew it wouldn’t be his long-time career. By the time his service was up, he was ready to take on college and return to civilian life. He left the service at 22.

 “When I was ready to get out, I was ready to get out. There was no looking back,” Bugbee said. 

Once he finished his time in the service, Bugbee went on to study marine biology at the College of Marin. Wanting to be an oceanographer, Bugbee decided to teach Physics in the Universe and Environmental Sciences at AWHS. Bugbee felt he was prepared for anything after his experiences with the US military. His time serving in the Navy taught him several lessons including compassion, discipline, being a team player, and reliance on his own abilities. Because of his time in the military, Bugbee has been able to carry out the lessons he learned through his teaching career. 

“Discipline is important; you can’t just let them go, but also, they’re kids. You can’t just rein them in,” Bugbee said.

Because of his time in the military, Bugbee has been able to carry out the lessons he learned through his teaching career. 

Bugbee describes his time in the Navy as “life changing,” specifically going to Pakistan and learning the dynamic there versus what he had experienced living in Marin.

“Going from Marin County to Pakistan is a completely different vibe. The colors, the smells, the people, the culture, the religion, everything is completely different … It completely changed my world, and so I realized I really appreciate what I had growing up,” he said.

After reflecting on his time in the Navy, Bugbee acknowledged the young people that serve in the military today and in years to come.

“I think it’s good to honor the people who have been in the service and still are. It’s such a big organization and [there are] so many things going on in it [the military]. I think certainly a day to remember and honor is good,” Bugbee said.