Donald Wayne BeardLieutenant Commander
RVAH-5, CVW-9, USS RANGER
United States Navy
11 May 1928 - 09 December 1964
Panel 01E Line 075
US Naval Academy, 1953
The database page for Donald Wayne Beard
Don's home of record is Amarillo, Texas, but he attended schools in Odessa, Texas, when he was younger. Lieutenant Commander Beard had served 14 years in the Navy as an aviator at the time of his death. His aircraft crashed at sea for unknown reasons. He is remembered by the Permian Basin Vietnam Veterans Memorial located at the Midland, Texas, International Airport and Ector County, Texas. May his sacrifice never be forgotten.
Placed by a PBVVM representative,
19 Sep 2007
LCDR Donald Wayne Beard was a Clarenton, Texas native, born in Witchita Falls, Texas. He went by the name of "Dan". He first entered the Navy at age 17, August 1, 1945 during the waning days of World War II and completed yeoman school. He left the active Navy after a year and then reentered six months later on February 14, 1947 as a Seaman 1/C and trained as an Aviation Electrician. He served until June 15, 1949 when he reported to the United States Naval Academy as a Midshipman. At the time, his Naval Rank was AEAN. He graduated with the Class of 1953 and married his wife Donna, who was from Amarillo. His father passed away his during his senior year and his mother moved to Odessa, Texas to be closer to his siblings. He served on the USS BROWN (DD-546) after being commissioned as an ensign. The USS BROWN saw action in Korea while he was serving in the ship. After returning from Korea, he completed flight training at the Pensacola, Florida and at Kingsville, Texas. He served with VF-114 in the Pacific until July 1, 1958 when he attended the United States Navy Post Graduate School in Monterey, California and finished his M.S. degree. He then served with the Navy Air Wing at Kirtland Air Force Base from 1960 until he joined the USS RANGER. The ship began its tour off the coast of Vietnam in September 1964 and he served until his death in December 1964. He was buried at sea. He left his wife and two small sons.
From a PBVVM representative,
A Note from The Virtual WallThe USS RANGER (CVA-61), with Carrier Air Wing 9 embarked, arrived off Vietnam on 18 September 1964 for her first cruise in Vietnamese waters. On 09 Dec 1964 she lost her first aircraft - RVAH-5's RA-5C BuNo 149306, crewed by LCDR Donald W. Beard and LTJG Brian J. Cronin of West Hartford, CT.
Very little is known of the loss, other than it appears to have been an operational rather than a combat loss. The remains of both men were recovered, a rather unusual circumstance for at-sea aircraft losses.
Donald W. Beard was born in Wichita County, Texas, to Bertha M. and Johnnie Beard. Although he was buried at sea from USS RANGER, there is a memorial stone in Plot 3461-42 of the Citizens Cemetery, Clarendon, Donley County, Texas, which includes the inscription "11 May 1928 - 9 Dec 1964 WW II".
The photo at the top of this page comes from the US Naval Academy yearbook, the Lucky Bag, for 1953.
The point-of-contact for this memorial is|
a Permian Basin Vietnam Veterans Memorial Representative,
Billy M. Brown
4015 Melody Lane, Odessa, Texas 79762
Top of Page|
With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 1 Aug 2004
Last updated 03/09/2008