Last Known Activity
Donald Lee Beals was born on September 27, 1923 in Brookings, South Dakota, the son of Daniel Levi and Clara Ruth Beals. He had 1 brother and 1 sister. He graduated from Brookings High School in 1941, and then attended State University studying engineering until he left school and enlisted as a private in the Army Air Corps on January 7, 1944.
He was accepted into the Aviation Cadet program, and took his flight training at Kelly and Foster Fields in Texas. He was then assigned to Richmond, Virginia for advanced training. Upon completion of this training, he was assigned to the 494th Fighter Squadron and given additional flying tactics at Walterboro, South Carolina.
Beals deployed to England in 1944 where he was assigned to the 48th Fighter Group of the Ninth Air Force. He was then designated as a replacement pilot to the 494th Fighter Squadron again, and was promoted to 1st Lieutenant. The 48th Fighter Group moved to France after D-Day.
He flew approximately 40 combat missions in the P-47 aircraft, usually in the ground-attack role. He participated in the Battle of the Bulge, dropping bombs and strafing enemy positions. On April 17, 1945, he was on a fighter sweep mission around Dresden, Germany, strafing aircraft on the ground when his aircraft was hit by flak. He had become separated from his wingman, and was never seen again. His body or the aircraft wreckage were never located, although the crash site has been given as 40 miles North of Dresden. He is remembered today on the Walls of the Missing at Henri-Chappelle American Cemetery in Belgium.
NOTE: Information receivd from his family on June 22, 2016 indicates the remains were found, recovered, and identified in 2015. Expectations are that he will be buried in Arlington Natiional Cemetery.
Lt Beals was flying P-47D # 42-28372, unnamed,assigned to the 494th Fighter Squadron.
Missing Air Crew Report 14387 was issued.
Family history records that he planned to marry Pricilla Hill after the war.
News reports regarding Lt. Beals' recovery can be found here: http://www.wtol.com/story/33669643/the-long-journey-home-honoring-an-american-hero
Service photo source: