BEARD, DONALD WAYNE
BEARD, DONALD WAYNE
Rank / Branch:
Date of Birth:
NON-HOSTILE-CRASHED ON LAND
Awards & Decorations:
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DONALD WAYNE BEARD, LIEUTENANT COMMANDER, U.S. NAVY, ODESSA, ECTOR, TEXAS
AWARDS AND DECORATIONS
Naval Aviator Wings, Air Medal, National Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, Korean Service Medal, United Nation's Service Medal(Korea), Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal
Donald was born in Wichita Falls, Texas. He was the son of Lola Bertha and Johnnie Beard. He was known as Dan and used that name routinely. He graduated from Clarendon High School in 1945 and joined the U.S. Navy at age 17 in August, 1945 toward the waning days of World War II. After serving a year as a yeoman, he was released from active duty and remained in the Naval Reserves. He re-entered active duty in 1947 and served two years as a seaman and as an Aviation Electrician's Mate. He was selected to attend the U.S. Naval Academy from the enlisted ranks of the active Navy. He entered the Naval Academy in August 1949 and graduated with the class of 1953. His father died his senior year at the Academy. He married his wife Donna in Amarillo after graduation in 1953.
After commissioning as an ensign, he was assigned to the USS Brown, DD546 and his ship saw action in Korea. He was selected for pilot training and trained at Pensacola, Flordia and at Kingsville, Texas. After flight training, he served with a VF squadron. He entered the U.S. Navy Post Graduate School in Monterey, Calfornia and graduated with his M.S. degree in 1960. He was then assigned to a Naval Air Wing at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico from 1960 through 1962. He then assigned the the USS Ranger (CVA-61) and it arrived in the coastal waters of North Vietnam on September 18, 1964.
On December 9, 1964, LDR Donald Beard was the pilot of a RVAH-5. The aircraft was a RA-5C, ID #BuNo 149306. The aircraft, piloted by LCDR Beard, was returning from a mission over the Ho Chi Minh Trail on a photo recon mission when it crashed in the mountains of South Vietnam just below the DMZ. The aircraft was found in early February 1965 along with the remains of LDCR Beard and his co-pilot. Little is known of what caused the crash except that it was thought to be operational rather than the result of hostile action. There was a bit of confusion on what had actually happened, early evidence pointed to the fact that the aircraft crashed as it approached the USS Ranger, but new evidence shows that aircraft crashed on land and not into the the sea.
Funeral Detail for LDCR BEARD on board the USS RANGER Photo from the U.S. NAVY Archives
LDCR Beard was buried with full military honors at sea. His family placed a memorial headstone in the Citizen's Cemetery, Clarendon, Donley County, Texas. This headstone is in the family plot with his parents. He was survived by his wife, Donna D. Beard and his two sons of Sanford, Florida and his mother was living in Odessa at the time. His mother passed away in 1989 and is buried at the Donley County Cemetery, next to her husband and the memorial headstone of LCDR Donald Beard.
Memorial Headstone, Citizen's Cemetery, Clarendon, Texas