GREENFIELD — No one could have predicted his journey, let alone where he would end up at the height of his career.

Back in 1988, Scott Beeson was affectionately known as the “class clown” of his New Palestine High School senior class. Today, Beeson has a career with the U.S. Army he takes very seriously. Beeson, 46, has taken on a major role at one of the nation’s more hallowed sites — Arlington National Cemetery.

Beeson, 46, leads some 2,000 soldiers who serve in the U.S. Army Honor Guard. His unit is responsible for conducting military ceremonies at the White House, the Pentagon and other national memorials. Their duties include maintaining a 24-hour vigil at the Tomb of the Unknowns — commonly known as The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier — as well as providing military funeral escorts at Arlington National Cemetery and ceremonies in Fort Myer, the Army base next door to the cemetery that serves as the regiment’s home.

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“I pinch myself every day because of where I am,” Beeson said. “It’s just amazing.”

In March, Beeson became the 31st command sergeant major of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, known as The Old Guard — the oldest active duty infantry unit in the U.S. Army.

From working with his soldiers in training to handing over an American flag to families of fallen soldiers, the duties touch Beeson’s heart deeply.

It’s his responsibility to make sure the soldiers under his command are prepared to do their job in a way that respects the dead during ceremonies, including teaching them proper protocol and formations to honor those who have served and are being laid to rest.

But the regiment’s duties are not solely ceremonial. The unit also is charged with overseeing security of the Washington, D.C., area, which for military purposes includes both Maryland and Virginia.

“If anything breaks out, it will be my boys who will put on their combat gear,” he said.

Beeson signed up for the military just two weeks after graduating from high school and the path changed his life. His post today is a far cry from where he thought he was headed at the time.

Beeson was a happy-go-lucky kid; he never took his future too seriously.

“They had those things in high school of ‘Most Likely to Succeed’ and stuff, and I was not even in that conversation,” Beeson said with a laugh.

Beeson’s parents, Marvin and Margi Beeson of Greenfield, said as a kid, their middle son had a zest for life and drove them crazy.

As a young teen, Beeson’s parents said Beeson was more interested in having a good time than getting good grades.

You’d never guess it from the man he is today, his mother said.

“It’s amazing to us, his transformation,” Margi said. “He’s gone up in the ranks fairly quick.”

Beeson’s thirst for adventure led him to duty in South Korea, becoming part of the 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment. He served in Operation Just Cause; Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm; Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom VI and VIII, among other deployments.

“He’s been all over and done so much,” his father said. “We couldn’t be more proud of him.”

Beeson, who also has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice with a focus on homeland security from the University of Maryland, said his original goal was to become a drill sergeant, which he accomplished. He than quickly found out working hard had its rewards.

Beeson has earned the Bronze Star Medal (third award), the Purple Heart Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (third award), the Army Commendation Medal with Valor, among other achievements.

Beeson and his wife, Gisele Beeson, are parents to five children. All of the Beeson’s children and his wife serve or have served in the military, except their youngest daughter, Montana, 16, who has plans to join.

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Kristy Deer is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3262 or kdeer@greenfieldreporter.com.