Army Master Sgt. named honorary roadie for rock band KISS

 By Frank Ready | The Centre Daily Times

When reviewing potential job candidates, it helps to keep in mind that it’s better to be overqualified than hardly qualified at all.

Army Master Sgt. Gregory Newton doesn’t have a ton of experience, per se, in the role of the rock band roadie, but he does bring certain set of skills to the table that are hard to ignore.

Newton is the operations noncommissioned officer in charge at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle. He monitors day-to-day functions (management experience), keeps an eye on the students (works well with others) and performs many computer-related tasks (technical skills).

It’s hard to say exactly which one of these qualities caught the eye of Hiring Our Heroes, a program that was founded by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation to help veterans and homecoming servicemen and women find gainful employment.

 Since 2011, the organization has held more than 1,000 hiring events — and approximately three tours with the painted faces of Kiss.

“The band wanted to help recognize these local hometown heroes,” Eric Eversole, president of Hiring Our Heroes, said.

The legendary band’s Freedom To Rock tour has bestowed the title of “Roadie for the Day” upon one veteran or military service member from each of the 29 towns they’ve played so far.

Newton was selected to lend the band a hand in preparation for its Tuesday performance at the Bryce Jordan Center, where he’ll even be the focus of an honorary tribute held later during the show.

Until then, he’ll bust his butt.

“They’re expected to work as a hard as any day they have in the military,” Eversole said.

That includes — but is certainly not limited to — chores like setting up the stage or running materials up to the will-call center.

Newton doesn’t mind breaking a sweat. He was born into an Army family and shortly after graduating high school, realized that he had fallen hard for the lifestyle.

After enlisting, Newton spent three years in Germany working in military intelligence.

The spirit of the Army is what he enjoys most, a natural camaraderie that develops when people of different backgrounds unite under the same cause.

“There’s not really any hate. Everybody works together, we’re all there with the same intent,” Newton said.

These days, finding good help is never easy, so Hiring for Heroes reached out to local Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion posts to locate potential honorees/muscle.

When Newton was offered the gig, he jumped at the chance to rub elbows — or at least be elbow adjacent — with Kiss.

“It’s one of those bands that you grow up listening to,” Newton said.

To hear Eversole tell it, Newton is in for a special night.

The head of Hiring Our Heroes attended Kiss’ concert in Fort Wayne, Ind., earlier this month and said that it was one of the most moving experiences of his life.

“The fans were actually lining up to shake the veteran roadie’s hand and thank them for their service,” Eversole said.

For Newton, it’s a fitting grace note to what has been a rewarding career. He recently submitted his retirement package for next summer and is in the process of figuring out what he wants to do next.

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