Today’s veteran: Aaron Beck, 61
Born: Omaha, Neb.
Residence: St. Marys
Service: Air Force, 5 years
Duties: Telecommunications control specialist
Rank: Staff sergeant
Recognitions: National Defense Service Medal; Good Conduct Medal; Longevity Service Military Ribbon
Duty stations: Japan; New York; Lackland Air Force Base, Texas; Biloxi, Miss.
His story: Aaron Beck knew what to expect when he enlisted in the Air Force after his high school graduation.
He grew up in an Air Force family, living in eight states and two foreign countries until his father retired in 1971.
“It made sense. I thought the Air Force was a better fit,” he said.
Beck’s father worked with computers in the Air Force, and he learned enough to know the career path he wanted to pursue.
“I wanted to get into computers,” he said.
The test to qualify for computer training was only offered once a year, which was too long for Beck to wait, so he was trained as a telecommunications control specialist. His job was to diagnose problems and improve communications signals that often degraded because they were analog signals.
He was sent to a communications center in Japan, where he said it fell in love with the job. He extended his time in military an extra year because he liked serving in Japan so much.
He work schedule enabled him to get off base and interact with the local residents. His superior officers told his crew they were like ambassadors and to be on their best behavior.
“They told us don’t embarrass yourself. Don’t embarrass your country,” he said.
The the high-security job had an irregular work shift that made it difficult at times.
“It messed with your body clock,” he said.
He was promoted to shift supervisor, responsible for quality control and training.
“You had to have technical knowledge and how to communicate,” he said. “I was able to deal with the technology and able to talk to people.”
After his tour of duty in Japan, Beck was sent to Rome, N.Y., where he dealt with multiple communications facilities.
He left the Air Force because he wanted a change after spending most of his life tied to military service. He spent two years in Bible college before accepting a job with SPRINT in the early days of wireless communications.
Beck said he chose training in telecommunications because he saw the civilian applications.
“It gave me self confidence, a career field and opportunities,” he said. “It turned out to be a very good career field for me.”
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