Categorized | News

For a Local Hero

By Thomas Sellers Jr.

Sgt. Stephen New

Sgt. Stephen New

"Ms. Jeanne" Beckman makes a check out on behalf of Pop's Bar and Grill to the parents of the late Sgt. Stephen New Saturday. The Millington eatery raised $600 from its upside-down Christmas Tree. Beckman and the staff decided to pay tribute to New after losing his life in Afghanistan in July.

“Ms. Jeanne” Beckman makes a check out on behalf of Pop’s Bar and Grill to the parents of the late Sgt. Stephen New Saturday. The Millington eatery raised $600 from its upside-down Christmas Tree. Beckman and the staff decided to pay tribute to New after losing his life in Afghanistan in July.

From the Patriot Guard Riders from Tipton County to everyday residents of Bartlett, the Mid-South has rallied in support of the New family after losing their son Sgt. Stephen New last month.
The latest to give back to the New family and express love during their time of loss was Pop’s Bar and Grill in Millington.  Stephen’s parents Michelle and Bill made the trip from their Bartlett home to Pop’s 6365 Navy Road location for a check presentation.
The business opened by the late William “Pops” Lee Beckman is now under the operation of his wife Jeanne “Ms. Jeanne” Beckman. Back in December Pop’s featured an upside down Christmas Tree fully decorated by Donna Ankebrant, Rhonda Ledbette and Terri Strauser.
The trio used the tree in a raffle raising $600. Since January, the women and Beckman were looking for a charity to donate the money.
“Once we heard of one of our own dying overseas, we felt it was right to donate the money to his family in his name,” Beckman said.
New was killed in Kabul, Afghanistan, when his unit was attacked by small-arms fire. The Defense Department said 29-year-old Bartlett native died July 28 in Bagram. New’s unit came under fire in the Sarobi District of Kabul Province.
New was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 20th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Jackson, Miss. New was welcomed back to the United States earlier this month at the Millington Regional Jetport.
On Aug. 17 his parents returned to Millington to meet with well-wishers and the staff of Pop’s.
“People have been just awesome showing there love for Stephen and for our country and the love of God has been amazing and just overwhelming,” Bill said.
Beckman presented the couple with the check holding a picture of her late husband. She expressed her sympathy to the New family and shared stories of Pops. Michelle talked about her son and the recent days of support.
“It means a lot of people love him,” she said. “They might didn’t know him, but they love him and respect him for what he did for this country. That he was ready, willing and able to do whatever was necessary.
“He was a kind of a scamp, at the same time everyone loved him,” Michelle recalled. “I discovered how much more than I ever knew how much people love him. Even people who knew him when he was younger and into mischief, nothing serious. He was just a lovable scamp.
“But he grew up into a man who truly loves God and wanted to do what’s right,” she added. “So he became a Special Forces soldier because I believe he truly believed in their motto, ‘De oppresso liber’ which means to free the oppressed. And that was what he was all about.”
In 2009, Stephen joined the Mississippi National Guard and was assigned to a Special Forces Group (Airborne) in Jackson. In 2011 he attended a Special Forces Assessment and Selection and was chosen to become a Special Forces medical sergeant, according to a biography released Tuesday by the Army Special Forces Command. He completed the Special Forces qualification course last year.
Before joining the military, Stephen was home-schooled until the eighth grade. He attended Shadowlawn and eventually graduated from Bolton High School. While doing the things boys do, Stephen had a love for his skateboard.
Michelle said her son always had a daring side and gravitated toward his calling in life serving in the Special Forces.
“I can see that he could have been used so much more in so many different ways,” she added. “But it was just very obvious the whole time along that God has a plan. He only had a two-year contract initially. He wasn’t quite sure he was going to like it on a long term basis. But one thing led to another led to another. When he graduated, he had a chance to go directly to airborne.”
New posthumously receive the Tennessee Fallen Heroes Medal, the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart, the Mississippi Medal for Valor, and several other awards.
With so many honors and residents reaching out on behalf of Sgt. New, the fallen soldier might not understand the large outcry.
“He might say, ‘All of this is unnecessary really,’” Bill acknowledged.
“He had two favorite words,” Michelle concluded. “One of them was ‘nonsense.’ And the other one was ‘out-rageous.’ And I think he would have said, ‘Out-rageous.’ He would have thought, ‘Wow, all of this for me. I was just doing my job, doing my job.’”

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