In his blood: Fairchild Master Sgt. has competed in rodeo practically his whole life

  • Published
  • By Scott King
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
It started early for him, riding in the back of a pickup with his father from one rodeo to the next through corn-lined roads of rural Nebraska.

Master Sgt. Travis Beck, 92nd Aerospace Ground Equipment flight chief, grew up working on ranches learning about cattle, horses and discovering his passion - rodeo.

"Rodeo was a past time my father had always enjoyed, so naturally I picked it up," Sergeant Beck said. "Through my adolescent years, I learned from him and the rodeos he took me to, and started to compete on my own entering every event I could through middle school."

Sergeant Beck spent most of his life in the small town of Maxwell, Neb. With a population of only a few hundred people, he had small town values and a hard work ethic instilled in him early.

He took those values and hard work ethic to Tyron, Neb., where during his first few years of high school he blossomed into a serious contender in the rodeo arena.

"In my freshman and sophomore years of high school I had the chance to represent my school in the Nebraska High School Rodeo Association," Sergeant Beck said. "I was able to make it to the state finals both years in the steer wrestling1 and team roping2. I also traveled to Pueblo, Colo. where I qualified for the National High School Finals in steer wrestling in 1996 and 1997."

After graduating high school, Sergeant Beck decided to give up his scholarship to rodeo at a local college and join the Air Force for a four-year tour. In 1997, he enlisted in the Air Force and began his career as an aerospace ground equipment mechanic stationed at Yokota Air Base, Japan. Following that assignment, he was assigned to Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, where he was re-introduced to rodeo.

"While at Spangdahlem, I was able to start back to rodeoing," he said. "I joined the European Rodeo Cowboys Association which allowed local U.S. military and Germany's military to travel Europe and rodeo together. We rodeo'd in almost every bordering country of Germany at one time or another."

He was crowned the 2001 and 2002 ERCA All-Around Cowboy3. 2002 was the first year the ERCA had become a part of the Professional Armed Forces Rodeo Association. As part of the association, he traveled with several other cowboys from Europe to Bandera, Texas for the 2002 World PAFRA Finals. The team represented well taking home seven of the nine "world" titles.

For a few years, Sergeant Beck was off the rodeo circuit while serving as a military training instructor at Lackland AFB, Texas.

"In 2005 I was able to start rodeoing again and got back into team roping and steer wrestling," he said. I met up with an old friend of mine from Nebraska and we won a set of horse trailers together - it was my greatest moment of my rodeo career thus far - I really needed a trailer."

In 2007, he was assigned to Fairchild where he was able to start up rodeoing again and head back on the road.

"Every summer weekend and most week nights are filled with practice, but it's something I love to do and have had the support to allow me to do it, he said."In 2008, I made it to the Pro-West Rodeo Association year-end finals in Yakima, Wash. in the saddle bronc5 riding. Then in 2010, I took a big step joining the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association."

In this association, he was able to compete in Cheney, Omak and the Pendleton Rodeos. He also was able to make it back to the PAFRA World Final that was held in Glen Rose, Texas in Nov. 2010. There, he won the calf roping6, steer wrestling, and chute dogging7 competitions and won the prestigious All-Around Cowboy title.

"Rodeo is a great American sport that has been around for hundreds of years," Sergeant Beck explained. "Luckily for me, I have had the Air Force leadership support that has allowed me to peruse my rodeo passion. When people find out I'm in the military and able to rodeo at the high levels I am, they look at me and the Air Force in a whole new perspective."