Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) 1st Class (IDW/EXW/DV) Joshua Beemer spent much of 2012 in Afghanistan, where he volunteered countless hours of free time to help local children read and learn math skills. (Rob Curtis / Staff)
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CTI1 (IDW/EXW/DV) Joshua BeemerHometown: Windsor, Mo.
When he joined the Navy: Jan. 4, 2000, left for three years and rejoined in August 2006.
Job: Assigned to Navy Information Operations Command at Fort Gordon, Ga., since December 2010. (His first duty station was aboard the USS Constitution in Boston Harbor).
2012 volunteer efforts: Served as secretary at the Cat in the Hat Language Arts Center, as member of the Fallen Comrade Honor Guard, volunteer at Bagram Airfield mosque, chairman of NIOC Georgia SafeRide program, member of the Columbia County Dive Rescue and Recovery Team
Personal: He is 34, married to wife, Marissa, and they have a 4-year-old daughter, Liliana.
FORT GORDON, GA. — From collecting intelligence in Afghanistan to remotely tracking pirates around the world to defusing improvised explosive devices in Iraq, Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) 1st Class (IDW/EXW/DV) Joshua Beemer has done it all, often while operating above his paygrade.
And whether he’s at home or deployed, he also invests hundreds of hours of his personal time to help the community around him. He’s helped children in Afghanistan further their education, he’s helped sailors further their careers and he’s helped render honors for fallen comrades.
For his demonstrated commitment to serving others, Beemer is our 2013 Navy Times Sailor of the Year.
Currently stationed at Navy Information Operations Command at Fort Gordon, Beemer monitors pirates, hijacked ships and maritime crime around the world. He is only just settling back into stateside life after returning in May from an eight-month individual augmentee deployment to Afghanistan.
“I came here to serve my country, so I might as well go out and do something,” he said of his voluntary trip to Afghanistan.
During the deployment to Bagram Airfield, Beemer served in an Army O-4 billet, providing time-sensitive intelligence to tactical war fighters downrange on IED placement and green-on-blue attacks. He also worked in detention facilities to ensure that enough intelligence was gathered to keep insurgents locked up and to initiate judicial proceedings.
Sailors who worked with him overseas said he was nicknamed “Big Brother,” because of how well he got to know those at the command.
“He looks out for his junior sailors like no other first class,” said Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) 2nd Class (IDW/EXW) Brianna Taylor. “I wouldn’t have gotten those two quals without him.”
Beemer likes mentoring sailors and said he hopes sailors will read his story and take advantage of the many exciting opportunities the Navy offers.
“I think a lot of people that complain say, ‘Every day’s the same, and I’m so bored,’” he said. “I think humans in general tend to feel sorry for themselves, and I’m guilty of doing it myself, but you get to that point where you realize it’s not that bad. I live in America, number one; that’s like winning the lottery by itself.”
Beemer said his humble beginnings taught him it’s important to help out those less fortunate.
“I came from a pretty poor family in central Missouri. I think most of us probably come from that lower-middle class, and a lot of us do pretty well for ourselves after you stay in for a while,” he said. “You like to give back when you can.”
While in Afghanistan, Beemer served as the secretary of the Cat in the Hat Language Arts Center, which teaches Afghan children ages 6 to 11 basic English and math skills. While the time with the kids gave him a break from operations, he also did it because he missed his 4-year-old daughter, Liliana.
“It’s just nice to go and work with kids, because kids are kids no matter what race, religion, where they’re at, what culture they’re from,” he said. “Just watching the antics of these kids, it’s the same as watching my daughter and her little friends.”
In Afghanistan, Beemer also volunteered with the Fallen Comrade Honor Guard, which renders final honors to military members killed in action, whose bodies pass through Bagram before flying back to the U.S.
“I’ve lost a couple of pretty good friends,” Beemer said.
Afghanistan wasn’t Beemer’s first trip overseas with the Navy. He deployed as an explosive ordnance disposal technician to Iraq, where he enjoyed the brotherhood and being on the front lines. After a family friend was killed in the same job, he left the community, learned Arabic and joined the intelligence community.
At Fort Gordon, Beemer serves as the mission manager for the linguist cell. Prior to his deployment, he served as the leading petty officer, and his team’s efforts resulted in the release of more than 200 hostages and nine pirated vessels, as well as the detainment of 11 piracy suspects. Beemer was unable to go into more detail about his day job, citing classification concerns.
“I think he stops time” to get everything done, said Chief Cryptologic Technician (Collection) (SW/AW) Lyndon Harris, Beemer’s immediate supervisor at NIOC.
On top of work, Beemer also is the chair of the SafeRide program on base, which provides transportation to sailors to prevent drunken driving incidents. His No. 1 goal of the program is to help out his shipmates.
“I think that’s the reason that most people stay in the military; it’s not because of the money or the lifestyle, because God knows that’s difficult, it’s the people,” he said. “If we don’t look out for each other, we don’t usually have someone where we happened to be stationed to look out for us.”
Beemer, who joined the Navy in 2000, took a three-year break from military service, but found that he missed the structured life and camaraderie that came with being in uniform.
“As I went through school, I realized a lot of those things I didn’t like about the Navy as a young person are things that are very endearing to me as I got older,” he said. “People show up on time, they’re dressed well, they’re not just there to let the hours go by and collect a paycheck, they’re there because they believe in what they’re doing.”