Charles Joseph Beck (Colonel, Ret. USAF), 92, of Punta Gorda, FL died August 28, 2011 of congestive heart failure. 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, 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, 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 Solomon's, 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 AFB, New Mexico, which was at that time the only atomic wing in the USAF. In 1949, Col. Beck was selected as one of the charter members of the B-29 Lead Crew Training Squadron, later to become known as the Combat Evaluation Group. He served as Operations Officer and Deputy Commander for this elite organization which is charged with evaluating the top crews of Strategic Air Command. Subsequently, he was transferred to Offutt AFB, NE, SAC headquarters, where he was Wing Director of Operations and Deputy Wing Commander for three years.
Col. Beck was selected as one of the three original Base Commanders given the responsibility of developing new bases in Spain into a state of operational readiness. While serving his tour in Spain, he acted as Liaison Officer with the Spanish Military for the Joint United States Military Group, in addition to his role as Base Commander at Moron, Spain. The assignment as base commander was one of the most challenging of his career given the delicate political climate under the dictatorship of Generalissimo Francisco Franco. He was charged with transforming a tranquil olive grove into a fully operational bomber and fighter base. In recognition of his services in developing Moron AFB, and for his work in community relations with the Spaniards, he was awarded the Cruz del Merito by the Spanish Government.
Col. Beck served as Base Commander and then as Vice Wing Commander of the 92nd Bomb Wing, Fairchild AFB, WA. In April 1960, he was assigned as Commander of the 5th Bombardment Wing at Travis AFB, CA. Following attendance at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, Washington, D.C., Col. Beck was transferred to Seymour Johnson AFB, NC where he commanded the 68th Bomb Wing.
In his final assignment, he was director of Maintenance of the Ogden, UT Air Force Base which involved 5,000 personnel. Col. Beck retired from the U.S. Air Force after 31-1/2 years of service in 1973. He was a member of the Military Officers Association and Sara Bay Country Club.
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, FL and Thomas C. Beck of Eugene, Oregon; 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.
Friends and family are invited to go to www.nationalcremationsociety.com
to sign the guest book.
National Cremation Society, Port Charlotte, FL.