Thursday, November 29, 2007

A Tribute to Slim

By Larry Miller

He was a hero, and we didn’t know it. And I doubt he ever considered himself a hero – but isn’t humility a common trait among the truly heroic?

I didn’t know him well, but Warren Beamish and his wife Gladys were good friends with our family.

He loved horses and would perform with his horses and as a rodeo clown in communities around western Nebraska and the surrounding region. Warren grew up in Michigan during the Depression years of the ‘30s. It was there that he became acquainted with my uncle Alex Miller and decided to accompany Alex back to Chadron, Nebraska. He was a “hired hand” for my grandfather Bill Maiden, among other jobs he had over the years. In 1942, Warren married Gladys Warren.

In World War II, like so many other young men, he went into the Army and was shipped overseas. It was in July 1943, when – as part of the American invasion of Sicily – that “Sergeant” Beamish and one other soldier helped open up enemy beaches for an Allied assault.

Official Army records indicate that “…on 10 July 1943…a few minutes after landing…Staff Sergeant Beamish, then a Sergeant and squad leader, volunteered to accompany an army officer and, under fire from enemy guns, succeeded in moving inland, assaulting a gun position and pill box which was being manned by six Italian soldiers.”

After opening up a landing site, they then proceeded up the beach, capturing another 25 Italian soldiers manning 20 millimeter and 50 caliber guns. Their actions opened the beach for 500 yards, allowing a successful assault – the largest such amphibious assault of its kind up to that time of the war.

For his “extraordinary heroism” during this major Allied invasion, Staff Sergeant Warren W. Beamish was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the highest combat medal awarded by the United States military – second only to the Medal of Honor. Read the text of the award.

Who knew? Like so many of his era, Warren came home from the war and – according to his wife Gladys – never talked about his war-time exploits. He merely got on with his life in Chadron, Nebraska. He and Gladys raised two children, Bill and Bonnie.

Warren "Slim" Beamish died on July 21, 1998. He was 80 years old. We've compiled a few photos to help tell this story.

It was Warren Beamish and others like him who won that war. Winning for us a way of life that most of the rest of the world can only dream of enjoying. It is right that we should honor him and others who've fought for our country.

Thanks, Slim. Belatedly, but with much admiration.

The Eagles Had Heart!

The song "Heart" from the Broadway show “Damn Yankees” back in the mid-1950s became a hit recording for both Eddie Fisher and the McGuire Sisters. 

But its lyrics could well have been penned for the Chadron State Eagles football team in their stellar comeback last weekend (Nov. 24th) against Abilene Christian.

You’ve gotta have heart
All you really need is heart
When the odds are sayin'
You’ll never win
That’s when the grin should start

The Eagles simply wouldn't accept defeat. Despite trailing the Abilene Christian "Wildcats" by 29 points in the third period, the CSC "Eagles" displayed great stamina -- and even greater heart -- by chipping away slowly at that margin as the minutes and seconds raced off the clock in the fourth quarter. It was a second round NCAA Division II playoff for the southwest region, played in Chadron (Nebr.) on a soggy Elliott Field.

You've gotta have hope
Mustn't sit around and mope

The heart displayed by the Eagles shone no brighter than from the CSC sideline, as star running back Danny Woodhead climbed atop a bench, as he often has done this year, to rally the crowd behind the Eagle defense. The sheer tenacity of offense and defense alike allowed the Eagles to narrow the gap -- albeit at a pace that was agonizingly slow. The clock was not their friend. But finally, at the end of regulation play, Chadron State had managed, almost unbelievably, to tie Abilene Christian, 56-56. A joyous moment for Eagles fans, and a moment of consternation for the many fans who'd left the game at the end of the third period.
When your luck is battin' zero
Get your chin up off the floor
Mister you can be a hero
You can open any door...
There's nothin' to it but to DO it!
And then there were THREE overtime periods. In the end, it was a series of enormous team efforts that gave Chadron a 76-73 win over Abilene. 

The high score and great drama caught the attention of the New York Times, which has enjoyed giving its lofty, if not somewhat condescending, coverage of "tiny Chadron State." It reminds me of the perpetual toungue-in-cheek coverage of Slippery Rock (PA) football scores over several decades.  Read what the Times had to say about the Chadron State-Abilene Christian game.

Our appetites, and those of thousands of other Eagles fans, are whetted for the next chapter in this wonderful unfolding of Chadron State College athletic history. That will occur next Saturday, December 1, when the Northwest Missouri University team invades Chadron for another round of Division II playoffs. Stay tuned!
Hats off to the Eagles -- they had heart!