Duane Beeson

Born in Boise, Idaho, on 16 July 1921 Beeson eventually moved to Californa, where he worked as a hotel clerk.  Deciding to leave this boring job behind, he joined the Royal Canadian Air force on 23 June 1941, and was commissioned as an officer on 26 February 1942, being sent overseas shortly afterwards. 

 

Once in England, Beeson completed the five-month long Spitfire conversion course at RAF Usworth, just south of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, with No. 55 Operational Training Unit, before being posted to No 71 'Eagle' Sqn at Debden, in Essex He arrived on the unit of 5 September, and 24 days later became a part of the US Amry Air Force when No 71 Sqn was transferred to VIII Fighter Command control. 

 

Now flying with the 4th Fighter Group (FG), 2Lt Beeson was a assigned to the 334th FS, which swapped its Spitfire VBs for P-47C Thunderbolts in early 1943.  He seemed to click with the Republic 'heavyweight', and scored his first victory on 19 May 1943 when he shot down a BF 109 over Holland.  From that point on this score rapidly rose, and he became the 4th FG's first ace on 8 October.

 

 'Bee" Beeson was given command of the 334th FS on 15 March - by which time the unit had converted to P-51B Mustangs,  On 5 April 1944, he was shot down by flak while strafing a German airfield at Brandenburg, near Berlin.  Immediately taken prisoner, Beeson was released following the surrender of Germany.  He elected to stay in the AAF postwar, and was promoted to lieutenant-colonel on 24 October 1945.  However, a promising career was cut short when Duane Beeson died for a brain tumor on 13 February 1947, aged just 25.*

 

References

Aircraft of the Aces Legends of World War 2

Compiled by Tony Holmes Osprey Aviation 2000

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