Kermit King Beahan

Kermit King Beahan

Joplin, Jasper County, Missouri, USA
Death 10 Mar 1989 (aged 70)
Clear Lake City, Harris County, Texas, USA
Burial Houston, Harris County, Texas, USA
Plot Section K, Site 389
Memorial ID 30493177 · View Source
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United States World War II Army Officer. He was the bombardier (Crew C-15) aboard the B-29 Superfortress bomber (tail #44-27297) "Bockscar" that dropped the atomic bomb “Fat Man” on Nagasaki, Japan, on August 10, 1945. He attended Rice University on a football scholarship during the 1930s. He had enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps in 1939 as an aviation cadet but washed out of pilot training, becoming a bombardier instead. He was serving as a bombardier instructor when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. During World War II, he was assigned to the 97th Bombardment Group (Heavy) and took part in the first Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress raids in Europe. He flew 13 combat missions over Europe (Eighth Air Force) and 17 missions over North Africa (Twelfth AF, then Fifteenth AF), was shot down and crash-landed four times (twice in Europe and North Africa). He returned to the United States as a bombing instructor at the AAF Central Bombardier Instructor School ("Bombardier College"), Midland Army Air Field, Texas. In the summer of 1944, he was recruited by Colonel Paul W. Tibbets to be part of the 509th Composite Group, which was formed to deliver the newly created atomic bombs on Japan. He deployed to North Field on Tinian, Northern Mariana Islands and flew five credited combat missions in the Pacific with the 393d Bombardment Squadron, 509th Composite Group (including the Nagasaki sortie). Selected to be part of the crew whose mission was to bomb Nagasaki, the flight conducted on Beahan's 27th birthday. Admiral Frederick L. Ashworth, who participated on the mission as weaponeer, credited Captain Beahan with saving the mission from failure by finding an opening in the clouds by which to complete the required visual bombing of the city. An estimated 35,000-40,000 people were killed outright by the bombing of Nagasaki, the majority of whom were munitions workers. He also participated in the first atomic mission that bombed Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. Flying as part of the crew of USAAF Silverplate B-29 bomber (B-29-40-MO 44-27353, Victor number 89) "The Great Artiste" (Crew C-15's regular aircraft) which was a reference to his bombing expertise, he could "hit a pickle barrel with a bomb from 30,000 feet", his aircraft acted as the blast instrumentation support aircraft for the mission. He remained in the military until 1964, when he retired from the U.S. Air Force with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He died of a heart attack in 1989.

Bio by: SBR

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: Erik Lander
  • Added: 11 Oct 2008
  • Find a Grave Memorial 30493177
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Kermit King Beahan (9 Aug 1918–10 Mar 1989), Find a Grave Memorial no. 30493177, citing Houston National Cemetery, Houston, Harris County, Texas, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .