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 • Anadarko
 • Caddo County
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Spec Ronnie D. Beets
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Birth: Feb. 13, 1944
Caddo County
Oklahoma, USA
Death: Oct. 26, 1972
Ector County
Texas, USA



Combat Infantryman's Badge, Parachute Wings, Silver Star, Purple Heart, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal


Ronnie was born in Cyril, Oklahoma. He grew up in Odessa, Texas and attended Odessa schools. He attended Ector Junior and Senior High School and was a 1962 graduate. He was active in sports, played end on the Eagle football team and was a well liked student and was voted "Most Likely to Succeed" and "Mr. Congeniality" by his class. He married Merilyn Fraley also a 1962 graduate of Ector High School in August of 1962. Ronnie and Merilyn moved to Oklahoma City where Ronnie was working when he received his draft notice from Odessa. He was to be drafted into the Marine Corp in the spring of 1966. Ronnie decided that he would rather be in the Army, as his older brother was in, so he and Merilyn traveled to Odessa where he joined the Army.

He completed his basic training at Fort Bliss, Texas and then volunteered for airborne training and then went to Fort Benning, Georgia where he completed his infantry AIT and parachute training. He began his tour in Vietnam in early September 1966. He was assigned to B Company, 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division and he became a squad leader. On August 13, 1967, almost two weeks before the end of his Vietnam tour, his squad was ambushed while on patrol. Ronnie took charge and was credited with keeping his squad from being overran. During the action, he was credited with killing six V.C. Ronnie was seriously wounded when a grenade landed near him. For this action, he was awarded the Silver Star.

He received a serious injury to his spine and he was paralyzed from the waist down and was almost dead, when he was medevaced. He ended up in Camp Zama, Japan and eventually stateside to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio. He was then sent to a Naval Hospital in Long Beach, California for spinal cord injuries. He and Merilyn moved back to Odessa when he was medically retired from the Army in 1970. He had attended college at the University of Oklahoma and Odessa College following his medical retirement. He and his wife Merilyn had adopted two children, a boy and a girl in 1969. He resided in Odessa until he died from complications of his wounds in Medical Center Hospital in Odessa on October 26, 1972, five years from his Vietnam service.

He was buried with full military honors in Memory Lane Cemetery in Anadarko, Caddo County, Oklahoma. His name was added to The Wall in Washington D.C. in November 1986.

Merilyn Beets raised their two children and now lives in Boise, Idaho.

Silver Star Award Letter (PDF)
APO San Francisco 96350

23 December 1967



1. TC 320. The following AWARD is announced.

BEETS, RONNIE D RA18764896 SPECIALIST FOUR E4, United States Army, Company B, 2d Battalion (Airborne), 502d Infantry, APO 96347

Awarded: Silver Star Medal

Date of Action: 13 August 1967

Theater: Republic of Vietnam

Reason: For gallantry in action.

Specialist Four Beets distinguished himself by gallantry in action while engaged in military operations against an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam on 13 August 1967, while serving as a member of Company B, 2d Battalion (Airborne), 502d Infantry, 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division. Specialist Four Beets was serving as a machine gunner with his platoon when it came under extremely heavy attack while moving from Landing Zone White near Chu Lai. He manned a position on the perimeter, putting effective fire upon the enemy. During the night, the numerically superior North Vietnamese Army force mounted a full scale attack with mortars, rockets, grenades, automatic and small arms fire. Specialist Beets' position became a prime target, and he was seriously wounded in both legs by grenades and rockets. When the medic came forward to treat him, he refused treatment and told the medic to roll him over to this gun. Once in position, although in great pain, he again began to fire upon the enemy. He remained in position under the withering hail of enemy fire with complete disregard for his safety and injuries, until the enemy had been beaten back. Only then did he allow himself medical treatment. In the morning, six enemy bodies were found within twenty meters of his position. Specialist Beets' outstanding display of heroism in action and his devotion to duty were in the highest traditions of military service and reflects great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.

Authority: By direction of the President under the provisions of USARV Message 16695, 1 July 1966 and paragraph 27, AR 672-5-1.


Brigadier General, USA
Chief of Staff

Colonel, AGC
Adjutant General

Ronnie D. Beets is on the Wall at Panel 24E Line 111.

Memory Lane Cemetery
Caddo County
Oklahoma, USA
Created by: Billy M. Brown
Record added: Jun 03, 2007
Find A Grave Memorial# 19686654
Spec Ronnie D. Beets
Added by: Billy M. Brown
Spec Ronnie D. Beets
Added by: Billy M. Brown
Spec Ronnie D. Beets
Added by: Robin & Beverly Kellison
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- snm
 Added: Aug. 14, 2013
Thank you for your great sacrifice in preserving our country's freedoms. I will honor you in the only way that I can . . . by remembering you always. May you rest in peace.
- Charles A. Lewis
 Added: Jul. 18, 2012
May his sacrifice not be forgotten.
- Billy M. Brown
 Added: Nov. 27, 2011
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