Last Known Activity
A son of Walter G. and Amelia H. Beck, Richard A. Beck was born on July 18, 1922 in Arizona. The US Census 1930 lists the family as residing in Tucson. Beck graduated from Tusser High School, and was attending San Bernardino Junior College when he joined the service.
Beck enlisted on September 10, 1942 as a private in the Army Air Forces in Los Angeles, California. He was selected for flight duty, and trained as a pilot. He was then moved to transitional flying with multi-engine aircraft. He was commissioned, awarded wings, and given a crew for training purposes. This crew later deployed to England, arriving at Thorpe-Abbots on December 24, 1944. The crew was dispatched on 5 missions.
On February 3, 1945, the crew was scheduled to bomb the Tempelhof marshalling yards outside of Berlin, Germany. The aircraft was hit by flak in the target area, and both starboard engines caught fire. Beck attempted to extinguish the fire by a steep dive, but to no avail. The aircraft then pulled up, did a half roll, a split S, and fell, totally enveloped in flames. Witnesses saw two chutes deploy.
Seven bodies were recovered from the crash site, while the two parachutists were captured. The dead were buried in a POW cemetery at Dallgon-Dobertiz, and retrieved after the war. They were sent to other cemeteries. Lt. Beck now lies in the Ardennes American Cemetery in Belgium in Plot B, Row 8, Grave 37 after temporary burial as an "unknown" in 1946. In 1947, he was identified and moved to his present location.
US Census 1930
NARA Enlistment Records
Lt Richard A. Beck was performing the duty as First Pilot on B-17G # 42-102958, unnamed, assigned to the 350th Bomb Squadron.
Missing Air Crew Report 12047 covers this incident. Crew rosters show that the crew consisted of:
2 Lt Richard A. Beck p
2 Lt Walter A. Rosenberger, Jr. c-p
F/O Dale N. Snow nav
2 Lt Robert D. Carpenter bomb
Cpl Pedro A. Martinez eng/tt gun
Cpl Lavelle E. Giles btg
Cpl Dudley S. Ingraham, Jr. wg
Cpl Herald R. Boyd tog/ng
SSgt Danial E. McTaggert tail gun
Ranks and grades as of mission date.
Lt Carpenter and F/O Snow were the only survivors.
McTaggert's name appears in records as "Daniel," but family insists (as does gravestone) that "Danial" is correct.
In the crew photo, Beck is standing, at right.
Service photo source: