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Don Merrill Beerbower

Military

CO 353rd FS 354th FG 9th AF
KIA Aug. 9, 1944 Reims, France while straffing MACR #8150.
15.5 air kills/5 probable kills/14-33 damaged + 3 destroyed on the ground
P-51B s/n 43-12375 "Bonnie B II"
SSgt Leon Panter-crew chief, Sgt Jerry Downes-ass't crew chief, Cpl Don Langram-armorer

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918, takes pride in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross (Posthumously) to Major (Air Corps) Don Merril Beerbower (ASN: 0-730341), United States Army Air Forces, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving as Pilot of a P-51 Fighter Airplane in the 353d Fighter Squadron, 354th Fighter Group, NINTH Air Force, in aerial combat against enemy forces on 9 August 1944, while leading his squadron on an armed reconnaissance mission in the European Theater of Operations. On that date, Major Beerbower located an enemy airfield on which many aircraft were parked. In order to test the ground defenses, Major Beerbower made an experimental pass at the field destroying an enemy plane and a gun emplacement. Then, while his squadron swept over the field from one direction, he fearlessly attacked from another quarter, boldly exposing himself to concentrated fire from all sides of the field and effectively screening his comrades from the intense ground fire. Major Beerbower's airplane was struck repeatedly and crashed into the ground. The outstanding heroism and devotion to duty displayed by Major Beerbower on this occasion reflect highest credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of the United States.
General Orders: Headquarters, U.S. Strategic Forces in Europe, General Orders No. 97 (December 11, 1944)
Action Date: 9-Aug-44
Service: Army Air Forces
Rank: Major
Company: 353d Fighter Squadron
Regiment: 354th Fighter Group
Division: 9th Air Force

Service

Units served with

  • 354th Fighter Group

    354th Fighter Group

    Group
    The Group moved to England in the autumn of 1943 and was assigned to the Ninth Air Force in December 1943. The Group were the first to fly P-51 Mustangs operationally and in their bomber escort missions pushed to find the long-range limits of the...

  • 353rd Fighter Squadron
  • 9th Air Force

Aircraft

  • 43-12375 'Bonnie B'

    P-51 Mustang
    P-51B Mustang FT*E 43-12375 "Bonnie B", 353rd FS, 354th FG, 9th AF. While on a fighter sweep in the Reims, France area he took the squadron down to strafe a German airfield. On their second pass his plane took hits in the wing and fuselage, then went...

  • 43-12457

    P-51 Mustang
    Don Beerbower's P-51B #43-12457 survived the war and was scrapped on Jan. 28, 1946. #43-12375 was fitted with the 85 gallon internal tank, Malcom sliding hood and the vertical fin extension/fillet.

Associated Place

  • Boxted

    Military site : airfield
    Boxted was built for heavy bombers and became operational from May 1943. In the few months B-26 Marauders of the 386th Bomb Group were stationed there, there were two night attacks by the Luftwaffe. On 17 August 1943, one man was killed when bombs...

  • Lashenden

    Military site : airfield
    Close to but completely separate from RAF Headcorn, Lashenden was built for the RAF during 1942-43 as an Advanced Landing Ground (ALG), initially as a light bomber base and then as a training base for mobile fighter squadrons. Enlarged and improved for...

  • Cricqueville Airfield

    Military site : airfield

Events

Event Location Date
Born Davidson, Saskatchewan, Canada 26 August 1921

the son of Clarence W. and Josie F. Beerbower

Lived in Hill City, Aitkin County, Minnesota, United States 1942
Enlisted Ft Des Moines, Iowa, United States 24 January 1942

as a Private in the Air Corps

Died Saint-Thierry, France 9 August 1944

While on a fighter sweep in the Reims, France area he took the squadron down to strafe a German airfield. On their second pass his plane took hits in the wing and fuselage, then went into a straight vertical climb, stalled and dove straight down into the ground. Beerbower jettisoned the canopy during these maneuvers and managed to get out of the aircraft, only to hit the tail. He never opened his chute. The plane crashed 500 meters south of St. Thierry, France. 9th Aug 44. KIA. MACR 8150. He was promoted to Major before his death.

Promoted

Major.

Buried

Initially buried on 20 August 1944 in the Western Cemetery in Reims, he was re-interred after the war at the Epinal American Cemetery, Epinal, France. Plot A, Row 30, Grave 42

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
24 April 2018 00:10:00 fugari Changes to nickname, service number, role, biography, awards, events, place associations and media associations
Sources

JCook Photo Collection & Archives

Date Contributor Update
24 November 2015 16:01:14 ED-BB Changes to service number, biography, awards, events and place associations
Sources

NARA WWII Enlistment records
ABMC website

Date Contributor Update
06 June 2015 21:26:01 Al_Skiff Changes to media associations
Sources

http://www.fold3.com/image/28700055/ MACR 8150 Details.
http://www.aviationarchaeology.com/src/dbmacr.asp?MACR=8150 MACR bare bones.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/dougsheley/7990150577 Accident details.
https://airforce.togetherweserved.com/usaf/servlet/tws.webapp.WebApp?cmd... Memorial / DOB / Homestate.

Date Contributor Update
06 June 2015 21:25:30 Al_Skiff Created entry with surname, middlename, firstname, nationality, service number, highest rank, role, biography, events, unit associations, place associations and aircraft associations
Sources

http://www.fold3.com/image/28700055/ MACR 8150 Details.
http://www.aviationarchaeology.com/src/dbmacr.asp?MACR=8150 MACR bare bones.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/dougsheley/7990150577 Accident details.
https://airforce.togetherweserved.com/usaf/servlet/tws.webapp.WebApp?cmd... Memorial / DOB / Homestate.

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