Humans of Hamden: Shamar Farmer
By Angela Varney
Shamar Farmer had been through 26 foster homes, four group homes and two homeless shelters before serving four years in the Marine Corps. He is now 27 years old and a senior political science major at Quinnipiac University, still celebrating his adoption three years ago with his family.
“I’ve known my family since I was eleven,” Farmer said. “I was supposed to be adopted by them, actually, but it didn’t happen until I was 24. Being in all of those homes and stuff left gaps in my education, so the learning curve was different for me.”
Due to the time spent cycling in and out of foster homes throughout high school, Farmer fell behind in his classes, leaving his teachers to believe he may not be able to graduate on time with the rest of his class. He wouldn’t take no for an answer. Farmer volunteered to take community college classes to make up for what he had missed and, despite his teachers’ doubts, he succeeded.
“I ended up doing it, which, kind of blew me away that I actually did it,” Farmer said, smiling. He continued to attend community college classes upon graduation but soon realized it wasn’t for him.
“I was in class one day and said, ‘I’m not going to be here,’ so I left. Walking down the street, I saw this guy in a tan uniform,” Farmer said, “We started talking and, next thing I know, I’m signed up for boot camp. That fast.”
After completing boot camp, Farmer spent a few years traveling within the United States before being deployed to Japan where he would spend a year and a half immersed in their culture. He was there in 2011 when the 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami hit the country.
“It scared the shit out of me,” Farmer said, shaking his head. “When it first happened, I was coming off of Mt. Fuji after warfare training. I went to the grocery store and thought that the elevation change was why I was about ready to faint and pass out because I was just shaking.”
He realized the elevation change was not to blame, once he began to notice the look on everyone else’s faces: terror.
“We all ran outside and the next thing I know, I see cars shifting parking spaces,” Farmer said. “I was like, ‘Woah, that’s crazy! It’s like the world is going to open up and swallow us whole.’”
Within a week, Farmer and his fellow service members drove 22 hours across mainland Japan to go to Sendai Airport to go help clean up the rubble so the U.S. could fly in supplies.
During his service, Farmer was one of the youngest lance corporals in the Marine Corps’ history to be awarded his black belt red tab in the Marine Martial Arts Program after training while being a chaplain bodyguard in Japan. This, Farmer said, is the fondest memory of his service. The hardest? Losing brothers and sisters that he served with.
“When you try and tell a story about someone that you have lost … it’s very realistic,” Farmer said, “It brings you back to reality when you’re thinking about the great times you’ve had with that person before realizing, ‘Oh wait. They’re not here anymore.’ But, you’re here, and you’re going to do the best you can to live up to their memory.”
Farmer said he has learned a lot throughout his lifetime, but the biggest lesson he learned was about the importance of humility.
“Be humble,” he suggested.
Farmer acted on his own advice after being thanked for meeting for the interview.
“Most veterans I’ve had the conversation with don’t really know what to say when people say thank you,” Farmer said,“It’s not like we expect it, so we say thank you because it’s all about (all of) us.”