Highest rank achieved: 1st Lt.
Honors: D.F.C. & 3 Purple Hearts.
Missing Air Crew Report (MACR) #4723
He was in the 746th Bomb Sqdn., 456th Bomb Grp. 15th A.F. He was pilot of a B-24H (S/N: 42-52222) with 9 other crewmen leaving Stornara Field with a course northeast to the target of Ploesti, Rumania on May 5, 1944. According to S/Sgt on another plane:
“We were flying at an altitude of about 19,600 feet, just before target time. There were flak bursts between our ship and the one piloted by Lt. Richard E. Beck. I heard an explosion, looked out, and saw the ship break in two. There was no immediate fire. The bulk head must have been blown out because I could see the bombs coming off the rack. Two parachutes were seen to open. The plane fell into a flat spin. It is possible that those in the forepart of the plane, if uninjured by the explosion, were later able to bail out, the flak burst having hit in the vicinity of ball turret and bulk head.”
Beck’s co-pilot, Lt. John Teune, in his statement about Beck remembered that Beck shoved throttles forward, presumably to keep the plane nose up. If Beck did bail out, it seems that the Romanians wuold have picked him up since the plane was cclose to the target; the country was heavily populated and alerted, and there seemed to be no active underground help. He recalled Beck having approx. 16 sorties (29 missions in 15th Air Force).
Beck was declared killed in action May 5, 1944. Three of the crew survived.