Texarkana, TX 48° View Live Radar Sat H 75° L 58° Sun H 75° L 55° Mon H 66° L 47° Weather Sponsored By:

Beck makes his contribution in Arkansas National Guard

Beck makes his contribution in Arkansas National Guard

November 9th, 2018 by Junius Stone in Features

National Guardsmen Jon Beck poses for a portrait at Texas A&M University-Texarkana.

Photo by Hunt Mercier /Texarkana Gazette.

Before he put on the uniform himself, Jon Beck, 22, admired those who served and wore the uniform of the nation.

"I always had respect for those who served, for that uniform," he said. "I realized at a certain point that I needed to make my own contribution."

Another inspiration he had was some of his friends were already in the Arkansas National Guard and were serving at the local armory. So, this sealed the deal in his decision to join the infantry and become a rifleman.

"The armory here in Arkansas and the one at Hope house troops from the same unit," he said, referring to First Battalion, 153d Infantry Regiment, Bravo Company."

But to join them, he had to begin his journey at Fort Benning, Ga., home of the infantry, at an infamous place in the U.S. Army that produces new infantrymen.

"Sand Hill was seriously culture shock," said Beck. "I had never done anything like it in my life. I went in as a civilian and was plunged into the middle of this chaos. I was rushing around, getting yelled at, running and marching everywhere. Then showing up to wait for hours some places. The classic Army hurry up and wait routine."

Eventually he made his way through training, learning how to be a soldier and an infantryman and he realized he missed his family.

"Graduation day was nice, emotionally overwhelming, it was good to see my family again," he said.

One of the reasons he did decide to join, however, was knowledge that the home unit was preparing for a deployment, and Beck wanted to get in on that.

"I joined in 2015 and was sent to training in 2016," he said. "And we deployed Jan. 1, 2017, shortly after I came back from training."

Before his unit headed out to their area of operations, they were sent to Fort Bliss, Texas, to brush up on various skills, weaponsand operations and to get additional training in urban operations.

"We were there at Bliss a month, training up, getting ready. We wanted to make sure we knew what we were doing," he said. "We even had a simulated village made to be like the ones in our operating areas in Africa."

"I was ready to deploy," said Beck. "I'd never been overseas before and I wanted to go. Knowing my unit was going to deploy was a big part of me signing up when I did. It was almost spur of the moment. I decided and in one week, I was sworn in. And now I was getting ready to ship to Africa."

Beck's whole battalion was sent on this mission, with the battalion being mostly set up in the African nation of Djibouti. However, Bravo Company had a different mission.

"We were set up in a different location and a big part of it was pulling base security for the special operations guys stationed there, Secret Squirrel stuff," he said.

But that base was not the only place they stayed at during their deployment, which took up most of 2017.

"We were all over the place," he said. "We visited five different countries while we were there. Towards the end, the base we were guarding was in the process of being shut down and vacated. The last two weeks were miserable and kind of nerve wracking. At that point, we had no electricity, no running water. We were living the real infantry life. But we were ready to leave. Not only was the base shutting down and things were uncomfortable, but South Sudanese forces were moving into the area at the end. And some of us were concerned we might get shot at. We were glad to be out of there."

Though Beck got the deployment he wanted, made the rank of specialist and may be promoted to sergeant soon, he thinks that the six years he signed up for may be it for him.

"I'm in my senior year here at Texas A&M-Texarkana and will graduate soon with a business degree," he said. "I'm getting into the building materials supply business, taking over my dad's old business. The name is JR's Building Supplies. I am to open for business at the beginning of next year."

With his current plans, the military part-time life is complicated to juggle, so he plans to hang up his rank when his contract ends. That said, he is at the three-year mark of a six-year hitch. And so far, he has gotten what he signed up for.

"It is life-changing," he said. "Humbling. Seeing other cultures and ways of life. Most Americans don't really appreciate just how good we have it here."

He does recommend service to those who may be interested.

"You don't have to make a career out of it," he said. "But doing some time is worth the experience."

Getting Started/Comments Policy

Getting started

  1. 1. If you frequently comment on news websites then you may already have a Disqus account. If so, click the "Login" button at the top right of the comment widget and choose whether you'd rather log in with Facebook, Twitter, Google, or a Disqus account.
  2. 2. If you've forgotten your password, Disqus will email you a link that will allow you to create a new one. Easy!
  3. 3. If you're not a member yet, Disqus will go ahead and register you. It's seamless and takes about 10 seconds.
  4. 4. To register, either go through the login process or just click in the box that says "join the discussion," type your comment, and either choose a social media platform to log you in or create a Disqus account with your email address.
  5. 5. If you use Twitter, Facebook or Google to log in, you will need to stay logged into that platform in order to comment. If you create a Disqus account instead, you'll need to remember your Disqus password. Either way, you can change your display name if you'd rather not show off your real name.
  6. 6. Don't be a huge jerk or do anything illegal, and you'll be fine.

Texarkana Gazette Comments Policy

The Texarkana Gazette web sites include interactive areas in which users can express opinions and share ideas and information. We cannot and do not monitor all of the material submitted to the website. Additionally, we do not control, and are not responsible for, content submitted by users. By using the web sites, you may be exposed to content that you may find offensive, indecent, inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise objectionable. You agree that you must evaluate, and bear all risks associated with, the use of the Gazette web sites and any content on the Gazette web sites, including, but not limited to, whether you should rely on such content. Notwithstanding the foregoing, you acknowledge that we shall have the right (but not the obligation) to review any content that you have submitted to the Gazette, and to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content that we determine, in our sole discretion, (a) does not comply with the terms and conditions of this agreement; (b) might violate any law, infringe upon the rights of third parties, or subject us to liability for any reason; or (c) might adversely affect our public image, reputation or goodwill. Moreover, we reserve the right to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content at any time, for the reasons set forth above, for any other reason, or for no reason. If you believe that any content on any of the Gazette web sites infringes upon any copyrights that you own, please contact us pursuant to the procedures outlined in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (Title 17 U.S.C. § 512) at the following address:

Copyright Agent
The Texarkana Gazette
15 Pine Street
Texarkana, TX 75501
Phone: 903-794-3311
Email: webeditor@texarkanagazette.com