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LCDR Donald Wayne "Dan" Beard
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Birth: May 11, 1928
Wichita Falls
Wichita County
Texas, USA
Death: Dec. 9, 1964, Vietnam

Buried at Sea, Memorial Headstone in Family Plot



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 Kingville, 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. 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. The remains of both aviators on board were recovered.

LCDR Beard was killed flying an A3J Vigilante, the highest and fastest flying of all Navy heavy attack models, and demonstrably all operational aircraft, capable of flight at over Mach 2 at sea level and climbing to over 91,000 feet with a 1000 Kg (2200 lb.) load. The aircraft was originally the A3J, an attack model; the A3J was subsequently modified specifically for reconnaissance, both photo and electronic, and redesignated the RA-5C. The RA-5C had the highest casualty rate of all aircraft types during the Viet Nam war because of its employment for bomb damage assessment photos after a strike had alerted the defenses that a BDA mission would follow, with no flak suppression preparation, and they were prepared for its arrival.

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.

Don's name is on Panel 1E Row 75 of "The Wall" on the DC Mall
Family links: 
  Johnie W Beard (1900 - 1952)
  Lola Bertha Beard (1902 - 1989)
  Johnnie Lavelle Beard (1925 - 1999)*
  Donald Wayne Beard (1928 - 1964)
  Robert Eugene Beard (1930 - 2005)*
  Jimmie D Beard (1933 - 1972)*
*Calculated relationship
In Memory Of
Citizens Cemetery *
Donley County
Texas, USA
Plot: Buried at sea
*Cenotaph [?]
Created by: Billy M. Brown
Record added: Oct 21, 2007
Find A Grave Memorial# 22330667
LCDR Donald Wayne Dan Beard
Added by: Billy M. Brown
LCDR Donald Wayne Dan Beard
Added by: Chuck Robertson
LCDR Donald Wayne Dan Beard
Cemetery Photo
Added by: Roy Lindsey
Photos may be scaled.
Click on image for full size.

 Added: Oct. 23, 2016

 Added: Oct. 3, 2016
Proud to be in '53.
- Jack Davison
 Added: Apr. 23, 2014
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