by Air Force Staff Sgt. Robert Barnett
JBER Public Affairs
3/18/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Adrenaline
and heat from exertion caused sweat glands to build up moisture,
forming drops of the liquid on Quinton Beach's forehead, dripping around
his eyes as he stared at his opponent, Micah Foreman, 17, who executed a
roundhouse kick aimed for Beach's chest.
A sharp cracking sound echoed through the room as Beach, 30, fired a cut
kick and caught his opponent in the stomach before the roundhouse kick
When his foot touched the floor, Beach followed the move with an outside
axe kick to Foreman's upper body, a second crack splitting the sound
waves in the dojo, followed only by the thud of Foreman dropping to the
Beach quickly helped his fellow martial arts practitioner up, and they
carefully analyzed what had transpired as they brushed off their
protective gear, made of condensed foam that makes a cracking sound on
It was an average sparring match in the Taekwondo Elite USA class in Anchorage, filled with award-winning martial artists.
Tech. Sgt. Quinton Beach, a 3rd Munitions Squadron munitions technician
on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, is a black belt.
The martial artist earned a third-degree black belt in tang soo do and
first-degree black in taekwondo. He is a member of the United States Air
Force Olympic Taekwondo team, a part of Armed Forces Sports, a program
funded through non-appropriated funds such as Army and Air Force
Exchange Service dividends.
"The AFS Program is designed to provide opportunities for Air Force
personnel to train toward and participate in Armed Forces, National, Pan
American, Conseil International du Sport Militaire and World
Championships to include the Olympics," said Stephen Brown, chief of AFS
out of Joint Base San Antonio, Texas.
Program participants enhance recruiting and retention efforts of the Air Force, Brown said.
Teams and team members often conduct sports clinics for both our military and civilian youth sports participants, he said.
Beach began practicing martial arts roughly 21 years ago with tang soo
do, hapkido and taekwondo. The martial artist has since been in nearly
300 tournaments. He has been married for 12 years and has four children.
"I am extremely overjoyed by all of my husband's accomplishments," said
Vernita Beach. "Balancing family, career, training, teaching and
obtaining a master's degree is no easy task. Yet, he does all of that
and so much more. He gives a little extra push and accomplishes the
extraordinary. After almost 13 years of marriage he never ceases to
Beach also has his unit's support.
"I've been blessed to have the Air Force support my competitions," the
native of Albany, Ga., said. "It's a great feeling to have your unit,
from the top down, support those things. Everybody's always asking when
my next competition is, or when I'm training and how they can help out."
In 2006, Beach was introduced to the World Taekwondo Federation. In
2007, he was invited to try out for the Olympic team. Although they
don't actually compete in the Olympics, they train towards it and
compete nationally and internationally in various competitions.
He has had to try out for the team every year.
"It's definitely motivating, especially when I have to go to the training camp," he said.
After several weeks of training, select few chosen and the rest go home.
The chosen remain for a few extra weeks of advanced training, designed
to prepare them for international competitions. They travel to different
countries as they represent their respective branches of service and
compete in their respective categories.
Currently, taekwondo, judo, wrestling and boxing are the only AFS that are combative, according to the AFS website.
"It's definitely motivating and empowering; you take pride knowing that
you get to represent your service," Beach said. "There are people out
there who want to train, who are just as good as you are, but who aren't
able to make it there. It gives me a sense of 'I've got to get this
done;' there are people counting on me; there are people picking up my
slack while I'm gone. I've got to do the best I can, I've got to
represent, to set the stage, to let everyone know that we've got a
For Beach, representing the Air Force means living by integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do.
"When other countries see us, they don't know individual names; they
just see 'USA' on our uniforms," he said. "It turns heads; it makes
people want to know who we are. Being that ambassador is critical. They
see the proper military image."
But it goes beyond just representing the Air Force, the black belt said.
"When you win the competition, you see the United States flag being
raised above the others, and you hear our anthem playing, it touches
you," he said. "You feel patriotic; it's electrifying."
"3rd MUNS has always espoused a culture of the outstanding," said Air
Force Maj. Joshua Trebon, 3rd MUNS maintenance operations officer and
native of Wadena, Iowa. "Beach is an example of how that can be applied
through off-duty sports and represent and reflect upon the culture of
the squadron. He's representing us internationally; in my opinion it's
Beach has won Air Force Male Athlete of the Year three times at the base
level; once as a senior airman at Misawa Air Base, Japan; and twice as a
staff sergeant at Diego Garcia and Aviano Air Base, Italy; and once
since he's been stationed at JBER. He competed in the Alaska President's
Cup in February, and will be competing in the Alaska State Championship
in March, which determines who will continue on to U.S. National, then
National Team Trials. He is also one of the Alaska State Athletic
Representatives for Taekwondo.
Outside of competitions, practicing martial arts is a lifestyle of improving fitness and overall health and well-being, he said.
"It's all about wanting to pull the best out of you," the technical
sergeant said. "Being a martial arts practitioner allows you to gain
confidence in your abilities. As you work out and train, you're going to
become smarter and stronger; your aerobic capacity, strength,
endurance, and focus will improve. It changes the way you carry yourself
as a child or as an adult. You're going to look at life and
circumstances from a different perspective."
It benefits everyone, he said.
"It keeps you fit to fight, fit to live," the black belt said.
"Excellence in all we do -- you look passed just meeting the minimum.
You want to crush it, to far exceed it. As a martial artist, you want
the triple digits on your Air Force fitness test. Once you get there,
you want to see how much better you can do. You want to get that runtime
down a few more seconds passed the maximum score, just for your own
personal gain. We train to beat our previous best; we love it."