|Birth: ||Jul. 22, 1922|
|Death: ||May 12, 2012|
Contra Costa County
Harrison Thompson Beardsley Of Moraga, CA passed away on Saturday, May 2012 at age 89 of natural causes with family at his side. Born July 22, 1922 in Chicago, Illinois, he attended Wheaton HS where he lettered in football and track. He attended the University of Chicago before enlisting in the US ArmyAir Force in 1942. Commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant, he received 2-weeks flight training in Florida before being sent to the South Pacific. Co-piloting a Mitchell B-25 with a crew of 10 over the mountains of New Guinea, his plane was forced down and ditched in a swamp, in Japanese occupied territory. As the tallest of the crew, the native aborigines chose Lt. Beardsley as "chief of the white men" disregarding the pilot, a Captain but still a shorter man. With razor blades and fishhooks, Lt. Beardsley bribed the local chieftains to lead the Americans out of the jungle, past enemy patrols and over the mountains to the Australian zone. They were MIA for 5 days. After the war, Mr. Beardsley worked as a reporter in Fargo, ND and for the Dayton Journal Herald in Ohio. He moved his family to the SF Bay Area in 1956 to work in public relations for Kaiser Aluminum. He traveled the world for Kaiser and in 1963 was posted to London where he moved his family. Later, he joined Doremus & Co. a financial PR and ad agency representing prominent electronics and biotech companies in Silicon Valley. He started his own firm, Beardsley Communications in the early 80's. He is the author of a novel, Flying For An Angel. A long-time member of a prominent SF social club, he enjoyed acting, writing and directing in many of the club's productions. Mr. Beardsley was also the editor of the "La Familia" newsletter of a children's hospital in Guatemala, which he visited. He is survived by his sisters, Barbara Mate of Newport, OR. and Cynthia Waggoner of Vero Beach. FL and his son, Peter Beardsley of Novato, CA, his daughter, Janet Beardsley and his grandsons, Warner Brown and Will Brown all of Petaluma, CA. In lieu of flowers or charitable donations, it is requested that any donations in his name be given to: Hospital de la Familia Foundation P.O. Box 12981. Berkeley, California 94712-3981. www.hospitaldelafamilia.com/ Tel: 707-252-9069.
B-25D-5-NA "The Wolf Pack" Serial Number 41-30099
Pilot Lt. John Fabale, O-799548 (survived) New Britian, CT
Copilot F/O. Harrison T. Beardsley, T-637737 (survived)
Built by North American. Assigned to the 345th Bombardment Group, 501st Bombardment Squadron on April 5, 1943. Nicknamed "The Wolf Pack". This aircraft flew over 100 combat missions. Pilots included Marston, McKenney and Milton N. Harper (completed his tour of duty in this bomber). Crew chief was Mike H. Juroshek.
Took off from Biak bound for Nadzab on a laundry run, with a four man crew and 6 passengers. The aircraft experienced engine failure on the journey, and forced landed in the upper Keram part of the Sepik River in a swamp. Aside from the crew, there were nine passengers aboard, all members of the 501st Bomb Squadron, "Air Apaches". The crew all walked away from the crash, and after five days were rescued, and returned to their destination on September 18.
This B-25 remains Fairly complete in the swampy plain along the Sepik. Over the years, instruments have been taken the majority of combat fittings are still in the aircraft.
Visited by RAAF Searcher Team led by S/L Keith Rundle during 1948. At the time, he mistakenly declared that the crew were still missing, and entered the co-ordinates into the records of the Colonial government.
John Fabale, Jr. reports:
"After the war, we got a package from the U.S. goverment, with Dad's diary in it. Apparently, it had been captured from a Japanese prisoner at the end of the war at Wewak, and he has used some of the paper inside it. Since it had my Dad's name on it, they were able to return it to us.
WORLD WAR II
Sacramento Valley National Cemetery
Plot: Section 12; Site 158
Created by: Kim S.
Record added: Sep 06, 2012
Find A Grave Memorial# 96632169
Added: Dec. 29, 2012
Added: Sep. 6, 2012