SD Vietnam War Memorial Dedication Please Support the Memorial Soldiers, Heroes, and teachers information

 

 



In Memory of  U.S. Army Specialist Fifth Class

John Paul Beckers

Burke, South Dakota, Gregory County

August 27, 1947 - June 6, 1969

Killed in Action in Vietnam

John Paul Beckers was born on August 27, 1947, in Gregory, South Dakota, to William and Eunice (Stunes) Beckers. He had three brothers, William (Bill), Lyle, and Henry, and three sisters, Mary, Gayle, and Helen. John attended school in Burke, South Dakota, where he graduated high school in 1965. While in school, he excelled in all sports. After graduation, John worked for Delta Airlines for a time and then attended Huron (South Dakota) College for one year before he entered the service and hoped to go back when he was discharged.

John Beckers was drafted into the Army on January 3, 1968. He was trained as a Green Beret. He was also trained as a demolition specialist. He went overseas on June 3, 1968, and was a Specialist Fifth Class in Company A, 65th Engineers Battalion, 25th Infantry Division. At the end of his first tour, Beckers extended his tour for 90 days, which would allow him to get out of the service a little early and be able to register for college classes in the fall of 1969. As it turned out, the extension “cost him his life,” in the words of his brother, Bill.

Army Specialist Fifth Class John Paul Beckers was killed in Vietnam on June 6, 1969. His body was returned to the United States, and funeral services were held on Friday, June 20, 1969, at 10:30 a.m., at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Burke. Army Specialist Beckers was buried with military honors at the St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery in Gregory.

John received the following awards: Silver Star for rescuing a fellow soldier “under intense enemy fire,” the Bronze Star with “V” for Valor with first Oak Leaf Cluster, and the Army Commendation Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters. The following is the citation for Sgt. Beckers’ first Bronze Star with “V” for Valor for his actions on September 17, 1968:

For heroism in connection with military operations against a hostile force: Specialist Four Beckers distinguished himself by heroic actions on 17 September 1969, while serving with Company D, 65th Engineer Battalion in the Republic of Vietnam. While on a combat operation his unit came under intense enemy fire and sustained several casualties. With complete disregard for his own safety, Specialist Beckers fearlessly braved the enemy shelling as he carried his wounded comrades to safety. Throughout the entire battle Specialist Beckers continually exposed himself to the devastating enemy fire as he assisted his injured comrades. His valorous actions contributed immeasurably to the success of the mission. Specialist Beckers’ personal bravery, aggressiveness, and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, the 25th Infantry Division, and the United States Army.

He received his Army Commendation Medal with “V” Device (First Oak Leaf Cluster) for his actions on February 19, 1969. His citation is as follows:

For heroism in connection with military operations against a hostile force: Specialist Four Beckers distinguished himself by heroic actions on 19 February 1969, while serving with Company A, 65th Engineer Battalion. While returning from a reconnaissance in force operation, Specialist Beckers noticed a 105mm howitzer round lying partially hidden on the road. Immediately, Specialist Beckers warned the rest of his platoon of the potential danger. While inspecting the round, Specialist Beckers discovered an anti-tank mine, which was wired to a highly sensitive bamboo detonator. With complete disregard for his own safety, Specialist Beckers proceeded to destroy the booby trap. His valorous actions were responsible for preventing numerous injuries and damage to valuable equipment. Specialist Beckers’ personal bravery, aggressiveness, and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military Service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, the 25th Infantry Division, and the United States Army.

The following is the citation for his Silver Star for the actions leading to his death on June 6, 1969:

For gallantry in action: Specialist Five Beckers distinguished himself by heroic actions on 6 June 1969, while serving with Company B, 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry in the Republic of Vietnam. Company B was providing security for a convoy when they came under an intense attack from a large enemy force. Specialist Beckers, who was at the rear of the convoy, made his way to the front and joined the men sent to reinforce the platoon in heaviest contact. As the element approached the battle, Specialist Beckers spotted a man that was wounded and lying in an exposed position. Fearlessly, Specialist Beckers moved to the aid of his fallen comrade. Although subjected to a hail of enemy fire, Specialist Beckers, with complete disregard for his own safety, exposed himself as he began to carry his fallen comrade to safety. As he moved through the bullet swept area with the injured man, Specialist Beckers was fatally wounded. His valorous actions contributed immeasurably to the success of the mission and the defeat of the hostile force. Specialist Beckers’ bravery, aggressiveness, and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, the 25th Infantry Division, and the United States Army.

Survivors at the time of his death were his parents, Mr. and Mrs. William Beckers; three sisters, Mrs. Mary Jensen, Mrs. Gayle Corn, and Helen Beckers and two brothers: William C. Beckers and Major Lyle L. Beckers. A third brother, Henry, was a member of the Special Forces in Vietnam and was killed in a car accident when he was home on leave in November of 1965. Today, Lyle, William, Mary, and Helen (Hennessy) survive John. Lyle retired as a Colonel after 20 years in the Air Force. He served three tours in Vietnam as a jet pilot. William served in Thailand and Vietnam.

We thank the Beckers’ family for all their service and their sacrifices.

This entry was respectfully submitted by Anthony Tallos, 8th grade, Spearfish Middle School, Spearfish, South Dakota, on February 7, 2006.Information for this entry was provided by the South Dakota Vietnam Veteran’s bonus application, and the Gregory Times-Advocate (June 19, 1969). Additional information and profile approval by William (Bill) Beckers.


 


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