Wednesday, December 7, 2011

One Member of "The Greatest Generation" - Raymond Hill Beamer, Jr.

Raymond Hill Beamer, Jr., son of Raymond Hill and Maud Lucy (Dunbar) Beamer, was born 24 December 1917 in Cherokee Co, Kansas.  He died 23 August 2003 in Topeka, Shawnee Co, Kansas.

"When he had a chance to be transferred to Hawaii he gladly accepted it. He enjoyed many things about his life in Hawaii. They got to travel to the different islands and he was thrilled at seeing an active volcano. He sent us pictures of it in eruption. My husband knew Dr. F. X. Williams, an Entomologist stationed in Hawaii at that time and suggested to Ray he go to see Dr. Williams. They were more than kind to the boy away from
home. When we sent him movies of the family for his Christmas, he could take them to the Williams’ and they would project them for him. They offered him many kindnesses.
     On Dec. 7, 1941, Ray took his pack and climbed a nearby mountain alone, just hiking. While on the mountain, he began noticing unusual activities back toward camp. At first he thought it was just a practice. But when it continued he saw something strange was going on and he hastily sped down the mountain to Camp to see the last of the Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor. He has never liked to talk about it very much. He admits we all did foolish things. We had had no training for such an emergency. Everyone knew nobody would dare attack the US. I think he could have stayed in Hawaii for the duration of the war but after a time he felt he wanted a change and asked to be transferred. He was transferred to a camp in California and after some months training there was sent overseas.
     One observation he made after war was declared may be of interest. He felt that before Pearl Harbor, the residents of Hawaii looked down on the men in uniform. They were careful not to have their daughters meet soldiers they passed by in their cars and did not offer rides when soldiers were hiking into town. But after Pearl Harbor they couldn't do enough for a man in uniform. . .
     November 13, 1943, Ray and Eleanor were married in a simple but lovely service in the Reilly home in Topeka. Eleanor followed Ray from camp to camp while he was in the USA. When he was sent overseas to the European Theater, Eleanor came home to live with her mother and sister, Lena, while he was away. On December 1, 1944, Beth was born. She was a darling baby and Eleanor was a lovely mother; but it was hard to have the father so far away.
      And of course the uncertainty was agonizing for Ray. Ray was in the Battle of the Bulge and after the Armistice was signed he was in the Army of Occupation in Germany for some time. The training he received from the GI Bill was a Godsend to him. . ."
[Source:  The Lucy Beamer Memoirs - RAYMOND BEAMER, JR essay, pages 5-6]

"He taught us to love our country and told many stories (over and over!) about the war--how he stood on Oahu overlooking Pearl Harbor (it was his day off) and watched as the bombing of WWII began. Later, he landed in Normandy and with his battalion fought his way to Berlin. As he made his way from "foxhole" to "foxhole" with his machine gun, he found a ferret which became his pet. It is still hard to picture this soldier hiding in the ground with a ferret peeking out of his pocket, while crocheting his much loved doilies."
[Source:  Beth Beamer Deakins' A Eulogy to Raymond Hill Beamer, Jr., August 2003]

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