SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Keith Longoria is using his barber chair for more than a haircut after spending more than two decades dedicated to the Army.
“This was a hobby turned career now. I wouldn’t change it — change a thing,” said Longoria, who is a barber at Savannah’s Traditional Barbershop.
Cutting hair and giving out a fresh shave in a barber chair wasn’t his first career choice. His military service started right after high school at 17 years old.
“I started as a PV2 and I only had that because of my ROTC during high school. I came with a little extra money, a little rank on my shoulders. I ended as a CW3. Chief Warrant Officer 3,” Longoria said. “Never in my wildest dreams would I thought I would have made it there.”
Military service is almost like a family business for his family.
“I’ve been moving every three years since I was 6 years old just as a military brat,” said Longoria.
It was one larger-than-life man — his grandfather and three-war veteran — who showed him the way.
“When he told me about being in the military, it’s all I ever wanted to do,” Longoria said. “He laid the groundwork down and I followed in his footsteps. Put my boots on right behind him. That’s my guy, man.”
After three deployments and a total Army service time of 22 years and one day, Longoria retired from the Army.
“I’ve known the military since I was a kid. Never known anything different. Why not take a risk on myself?”
A risk it was, indeed. But, the next part of life was there all along.
“I was self-taught. I bought a set of clippers in 1998 and I never went to another barber shop for probably 20-something years. I learned how to do it,” Longoria told WSAV.
In so many ways, the barber shop runs a tight parallel to his Army service.
“It is different as far as the career aspect, but it’s still people,” he said. “It’s still dealing with people.
“The military is a people business. You gotta take care of your people.”
Longoria’s seat is often occupied by another soldier walking in just looking for a haircut but leaving with so much more.
“They’re all our brothers and sisters. I’ve had that my entire life. It’s a people business. If I can do anything in my power today to make something have a great day, then I did my job for the day,” Longoria said emotionally.
He’s still giving back to his country and his fellow soldiers one haircut at a time.
“Giving back and being able to be an open ear or a shoulder — something for them to lean on — know they’ve got somebody. They’ve always got somebody. Come to the barbershop.”
Longoria graduated from Savannah Tech and has also competed and won several awards for his work as a barber at both the state and national levels.