General, U.S. Army
Dwight Edward Beach, the first child of D. Edward and Amanda (Luick) Beach, was born on the Beach Farm in Lima Township (Chelsea), Washtenaw County, MI, on 20 July 1908.
Beach attended the University of Michigan for two years before transferring to the U.S. Military Academy. After graduating with the Class of 1932, he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Field Artillery and detailed to the Army Air Corps. Prior to World War II he served with various horse-drawn field artillery units.
After Pearl Harbor and the beginning of WWII, Beach was transferred to the Southwest Pacific where he organized and commanded the 167th Field Artillery Battalion, using wild horses purchased in Australia to draw the artillery. After converting to tractor-drawn artillery, his unit in the 41st Infantry Division participated in campaigns in the Southwest Pacific area from Australia, through New Guinea, to the Philippines and Japan. In the Philippines he became Executive Officer of the 24th Division Artillery. Beach participated in four amphibious assaults at Aitape, Maffin Bay, Wakde' and Palawan, also in the follow-up phase of amphibious operations in Biak and Zamboango. He also participated in overland operations at Davao.
After WWII, in Korea Beach commanded the artillery of the 11th Airborne Division; artillery of the 45th Infantry Division; and served as Artillery officer and Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans and Combat Operations, Eighth United States Army. In November 1954, he was appointed Chief of Staff, Eighth U.S. Army in Korea.
Following Korea, Gen. Beach was assigned to the U.S. Continental Army Command as the Director of the Office of Special Weapons Development at Fort Bliss, TX. He was then assigned to the Department of the Army in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Military Operations as the Director of Guided Missiles. During Gen. Beach's tour at the Pentagon, the U.S. Army placed the first free-world satellite (Explorer I) in orbit in January 1958, and accomplished the first missile intercept of very low attitude aircraft in May 1958. Gen. Beach commanded the 82nd Airborne Division from July 1959 to April 1961.
In May 1961, Gen. Beach became the Deputy Chief of Research and Development, Department of the Army in Washington, DC. During the escalation of US involvement in Vietnam, he served as Commanding General for the U.S. Army Combat Developments Command in Fort Belvoir, VA. From 1965 to 1966, Gen. Beach simultaneously served as Commander-in-Chief of the United Nations Command, Commander of U.S. Forces in Korea and Commanding General of the Eighth Army in Korea. General Beach's final assignment was as Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Army, Pacific, from September 1966 to July 1968. He retired from the Army on 1 August 1968.
During his service, Beach attended the Armed Forces Staff College and the Army War College. He also served as an instructor at the U.S. Military Academy (Tactics); the Field Artillery School; the Command and General Staff College; and the Army War College.
General Beach's awards and decorations include: Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star Medal, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, World War II Victory Medal, Occupation of Japan Medal, Korean Service Medal, United Nations Service Medal, and Philippine Liberation Ribbon.
At the beginning of his military career in 1932, Dwight Beach married Florence Eileen Clem, originally of San Antonio, TX, and they had five children. After 62 years of marriage, Florence preceded Dwight in death on 5 January 1995.
After his retirement from the Army, General Beach returned to the Beach Family Farm in Michigan, where he died in July 2000 at age 92.
The Dwight E. Beach Middle School, in Chelsea, MI, is named in his honor.
GEN Dwight E. Beach has Honoree Record 186 at MilitaryHallofHonor.com.
Dwight Beach's brother, Captain Kenneth Otto Beach, was on Bataan and survived the horrific ‘Bataan Death March.' He was a prisoner of the Japanese for 33 months. Capt. Beach died of his wounds on 28 January 1945 and was buried at sea in the Pacific Ocean, near Okinawa. A cenotaph for Capt. Beach is located in the Lima Center Cemetery.
Bio compiled by Charles A. Lewis
Florence E. Clem Beach
1912–1995 (m. 1932)