08/31/11 — CHARLES J. BECK

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Died Aug. 28, 2011

PUNTA GORDA, Fla. -- Retired Air Force Col. Charles Joseph Beck, 92, Punta Gorda, Fla., died Aug. 28, 2011.

A native of Indianapolis, Ind., Col. Beck was the only child of Charles Christopher and Mary Louise (Taylor) Beck.

Col. Beck was a graduate of Shortridge High School, the Air Staff Intelligence Course at the Air University, the Senior Officers Management Course at George Washington University, the University of Maryland and the Industrial War College of the Armed Forces in Washington, D.C.

Col. Beck received his wings as a sergeant pilot in June 1942, and was commissioned in June 1943. In a highly unusual military ascension, he rose through the ranks and was awarded his eagles as a full colonel in April 1953. He was one of the elite corps known as the "flying staff sergeants," who were honored by Congress in 1971.

As a squadron commander during World War II, Col. Beck spent 25 months in the South Pacific, participating in the Solomons, New Guinea, Ryukus and Philippines campaigns, accumulating more than 600 combat hours.

Col. Beck's decorations include the Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster and the Air Medal with Four Oak Leaf Clusters. The majority of his flying experience was in multi-engine aircraft, including hundreds of hours as a B-52 pilot.

In April of 1947, he was assigned to the 509th Bomb Wing at Walker Air Force Base, N.M., which was at that time the only atomic wing in the United States Air Force.

In 1949, Col. Beck was selected as a charter member of the Combat Evaluation Group ,and then served as director of operations and deputy wing commander at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., Strategic Air Command headquarters, for three years.

Col. Beck was selected as one of the three commanders charged with developing new bases in Spain. He was liaison officer with the Spanish Military for the Joint United States Military Group, in addition to base commander at Moron, Spain.

This assignment was one of the most challenging of his career given the delicate political climate under the dictatorship of Generalissimo Francisco Franco. He oversaw the transformation of an olive grove into a fully operational bomber and fighter base. In recognition of his service, he was awarded the Cruz del Merito by the Spanish government.

Col. Beck served as base commander and vice wing commander of the 92nd Bomb Wing at Fairchild Air Force Base in Washington, commander of the 5th Bomb Wing at Travis Air Force Base in California, commander of the 68th Bomb Wing at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina and director of maintenance at Ogden Air Force Base in Utah.

Col. Beck retired from the United States Air Force after 311/2 years of service in 1973.

Col. Beck was married for 65 years to the former Norvella "Vel" June Judd of Markleville, Ind. They lived in Sarasota for 30 years before moving to Bradenton in 2004 and Punta Gorda in 2010.

He is survived by their two children, Becky Bovell of Punta Gorda, Fla., and Thomas C. Beck of Eugene, Ore; son-in-law, Paul T. Raffa; daughter-in-law, Marie N. Beck; three grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

Services will be held at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.

Memorial gifts should be donated to the Salvation Army, 2120 Loveland Blvd., Port Charlotte, Fla., 33980.

Friends and family are invited to visit www.nationalcremationsociety.com to sign the guest book.


Published in Obituaries on August 31, 2011 1:49 PM