|Golf helps retired Sergeant Major teach Marines
“Being a Marine was the best thing I did in my life,” says retired Sgt. Maj. Grant Beck.
been around Marines his entire adult life, Beck should know. He joined
the Marine Corps Reserves in February 1958 when he was still in high
school. After graduation, Beck became an active-duty Marine and was
stationed at Camp Lejeune.
The first highlight of his career
came in 1964. “I re-enlisted in 1964 and got married and bought a new
car, all within 15 days of each other, and then I went to the drill
field,” says Beck. (In March 2008, Beck and his wife Nancy will
celebrate 44 years together. They have a son and a daughter who both
live in Jacksonville.)
having earned the rank of sergeant, Beck returned to Parris Island as a
drill instructor. “You’re starting people on the same road that you had
been on for awhile. We had the advantage of knowing what it was like,”
says Beck of why he enjoyed his DI experience.
Next, Beck was
assigned to Vietnam as part of the 1st Military Police Battalion with
the primary responsibility for defending the Da Nang Air Force Base and
was in country for the Tet Offensive of 1968.
When he returned
to the United States, Beck was stationed in Rhode Island at Brown
University as the assistant Marine officer instructor for the Reserve
Officer Training Corps. Beck served at Brown from 1968 through 1970
when the university was a hot bed of social activism. Beck remembers
that he and his colleagues were “subjected to strong ugliness” as
military representatives on campus.
“I almost felt like I was on three years of combat duty and only got paid for one,” says Beck of his Brown experience.
the end of his time at Brown, Beck’s Marine colleague was called away
for other duty and, as Beck says, “I had the dubious distinction of
being the last Marine ever stationed at Brown.” After he left, the
Students for a Democratic Society succeeded in removing ROTC units from
Beck served his second tour in Vietnam after leaving
Brown when he was deployed in November 1970 as a military advisor with
the 51st Army of the Republic of Vietnam.
“What the first [tour]
lacked in action, the second one made up for and then some,” said Beck
of his assignment, which included approximately 22 days out of each
month spent in the field.
After returning from Vietnam, Beck
later had another career highlight when he was selected to help build a
new course for 1st sergeants and master sergeants at Quantico, Va.
August 1987, Beck became the sergeant major of Marine Corps Base Camp
Lejeune until he retired Oct. 1, 1989, thus ending his career at the
same place he had started it.
After retiring from the Corps,
Beck went to work part-time at Paradise Point Golf Course aboard Camp
Lejeune. Later, he went through the Professional Golf Association
apprentice program and then earned the “Class A” PGA card. He has been
a golf professional at the course ever since and has had the
opportunity to teach service members and their families to golf.
opportunity to stay around Marines, work with Marines, teach Marines. I
never wanted to get away from that,” says Beck of why he enjoys being a
teaching professional aboard the base.
Editor’s note: In honor
of Veterans Day, The Globe is running a series of profiles on the
veterans who served their country with pride.