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.