If you have ever been to The Scoreboard on a Thursday night, then you know that Tony Beck is proud to be an America — after all, it’s his signature song. Beck is an Army veteran, who served in Desert Storm, and provides a much needed boost of patriotism to the Newton establishment.
“I started off in the Iowa Guard and then in February ’85, I started active duty in the regular army,” Beck said.
Beck had originally signed up 1982 and explained what inspired him to join.
“Finances, mainly. I planned on getting married. Needless to say, that fell through,” Beck said jokingly. “But I had fun in the military, believe me. One of the smartest things I did in high school was join the military.”
Like many vets, Beck said the ability to travel was one of the best parts of service.
“Seeing the countryside,” Beck said, “The scenery, I was seeing spots that I’ll never see again in my lifetime.”
Beck maintains a pretty sunny disposition and even carried it throughout boot camp.
“It wasn’t so bad, other than the drill sergeant in your face” Beck said jokingly. “It was like going to PE for me. That’s what it seemed like it. Between basic training and AIT (Advanced Individual Training), basic was a joke. AIT was a lot stricter.”
“It’s not as laid back (as basic),” Beck said. “You have to be there to do stuff, they are right on you. They want to make sure you get it done right for when you leave. You are putting those work skills to actual (use).”
Beck said he went to AIT to become a light and heavy welding mechanic and truck driver.
“Between basics and AIT, I would rather go through basics again,” Beck said.
During his time in the service, the U.S. had conflicts in both Grenada and Panama. Beck said he was ready and willing to go to either, if necessary.
“I wasn’t worried at all. If it was time for me to go, it was time for me to go,” Beck said. “Our post was on standby. Then when I was stationed at Fort Lewis, (Wash.) our unit was on standby. We knew we were going, we just weren’t for sure of the actual dates we were going.”
Beck never went to Panama or Grenada, but was deployed.
“I went to Saudi Arabia. I think it was August of ’90 when we shipped out,” Beck said. “Hot, hot, it was 140 degrees in the shade. Just very hot, when we first got over there it would be like 70 or 80 degrees and we would just have sweat pouring off of us.”
“After we got used to the climate change, that 70 degrees was cold, just cause of the temperature drop,” Beck said. “You wouldn’t think that 70 is cold, but in the desert it’s cold. If you don’t mind being in the desert (Saudi Arabia) it’s a neat spot to be.”
Other than the weather, Beck said a moment in January of ’91 is what stuck with him about his time over there.
“I do remember, that a Patriot and a Scud missile took out each other,” Beck said. “They took each other out right above our camp site. It was loud, very loud. They collided in mid-air and it looked like a big ol’ firework in the sky.”
“I think our whole company was in their MOPP (Mission Oriented Protective Posture) gear in five minutes,” Beck said. “That was something you learned in basic training. It don’t take too long to put that stuff on when you need to.”
Another thing that stuck out to Beck was the fires that Iraqi forces started in the Kuwaiti oil fields.
“It was so black out,” Beck said. “We had to have our headlights on in the day.”
Beck said he left the military in 1991 and in that same year he joined the VFW.
“I got my lifetime membership in ’92,” Beck said. “I have been the (Newton) Post Commander the last two years. I still got some military in my life.”
Staff writer Ty Rushing may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 426, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.