NHRA Mello Yello Funny Car world champion Jack Beckman will visit the Gunter Annex of Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Ala., May 2 to be presented with the U.S. Air Force Wall of Achievers honor in Enlisted Heritage Hall.
Beckman, a former Air Force sergeant and avionics technician on the F-111D, will visit the base the day before he begins competing in the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway.
Beckman joins an impressive list of former enlisted airmen receiving the honor, including President George W. Bush, Brig. Gen. Chuck Yeager, singers Johnny Cash and Gene Autry, actor Charlton Heston, and comedian Flip Wilson.
Beckman recalls losing interest in high school and dropping out. At 17, he earned his GED certificate before passing the armed services test and enlisting.
“That was likely the best decision I ever made,” he says. “It gave me direction, focus, job skills, and a renewed sense of self-worth.”
He was honorably discharged as a sergeant at age 21.