Born and raised in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the man who would become US Army Sergeant JD Beltz could not have known where life’s journey would take him.
After joining the military, his travels took him from training in Missouri, to Alabama, to being in Germany when the Berlin wall came down. In time, he was transferred to Fort Polk, and deployed in Operation Desert Storm, to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
“I just wanted to go and serve, and…I wanted to pretty much, get out of my town, see the world, and… to have some military service; so I could be proud, and my family could be proud of me.”
The military means different things to different people. To Sergeant Beltz, the discipline instilled by the military was important, but overall it’s everything that reminds you of America. “Every time you hear the national anthem or see the American flag, I don’t think so much of my hometown, I think of America and the military.”
Soldiers receive medals for their service. But most of the time, “You’re not expecting it, it’s just part of your duty.” The awards, however add up, becoming a visible symbol of accomplishment and pride to the soldier who wears them.
Sergeant Beltz is a member of the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association. “We are a brotherhood of veterans who do things to take care of other veterans, and we ride motorcycles together.” For veterans, getting together is important, carrying on some military structure in civilian life.
“Being in the military is everything to me. Duty, honor, country, God.” It’s hard to describe and has to be experienced to be understood. It’s impossible for someone to really understand what it means, unless you’ve been there.