Eugene M. "Mitch" Beard, BG Frank & Bobbie Gillespie, LtCol Ivan B. Grimes Memorial Scholarship
Eugene Mitchell “Mitch“ Beard was born on September 15, 1919, in Andrews, South Carolina. At the age of five his family moved to Washington, D.C. Upon graduation from Roosevelt High School and after a year’s employment by General Motors Acceptance Corporation, he enlisted as a private in the 121st Observation Squadron, District of Columbia.The Air Guard unit was federalized on September 1, 1941, and was part of the Anti-Sub Command operation stationed at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, which flew O-52 and O-47 aircraft searching the Atlantic for Nazi submarines. Mitch was the communications section NCO and performed some missions as radio operator. He attended Air Corps Office Candidate School in Miami Beach, Florida, and received his second lieutenant bars in the spring of 1943. His first assignment after being commissioned was detachment commander of an Anti-Sub Command and First Bomber Command Bomber Crew Training radio facility in Bermuda for twenty months. Later he returned to the U.S. and was assigned to the First Bomber Command at Mitchel Field as a communications officer. He then became a communications officer, with the 319th Bomb Group serving on Okinawa until V-J Day. Returning to Washington, D.C., he rejoined the Air National Guard and attended American University. He was then sent to the Air Force Communications School at Scott Field. He was recalled to active duty in 1948 and assigned as communications officer at Perrin AFB in Texas. He then attended the Airborne Radar Officers Course at Keesler AFB in Mississippi, where he was retained as an instructor at the school during the 1950-51 academic year. From 1951 to 1955 he was assigned to the HQ USAF Inspector General Office at Norton AFB, California, as an electronics officer on inspections of Air Force units around the world. Taking time off for six months, he attended Syracuse University in New York under the “Bootstrap” Program. Mitch was married in 1953 to Joyce Lenore Reeves, a former teacher and United Air Lines stewardess from Salem, Oregon. He was next assigned to the 16th Air Force and Joint U.S. Military Advisory Group in Spain, where he joined the Strategic Air Command (SAC) Team. His assignment was to help prepare the Air Force Spanish Bases for SAC’s “Operation Reflex” during 1955-59. Returning again to the U.S., he was the telecommunications officer for the 2nd Air Force (now designated the 8th Air Force) stationed at Barksdale AFB, Louisiana. The assignment included the supervision of SAC Communication Centers in mid-continent America with regard to the teletype and primary alert systems. He received the Air Force Commendation Medal for the period 1959-63 for directly enhancing the capability of the headquarters staff, unit leaders, and operational forces to react more rapidly. Mitch and Joyce had two children; Diane Louise, born in Spain in 1958, and a son, Daniel Edward, born in Salem, Oregon in 1964. Upon retirement in 1963, he and his family moved to Corvallis, where he received his master’s degree at State University. His wife Joyce died of cancer in 1966. Mitch never remarried and raised both children himself. He was a newspaper columnist who edited and produced newsletters for Rotary, the Military Officers Club of Corvallis, and Toastmasters Club for more than seventeen years. He was also active as treasurer for Grant Avenue Baptist Church and served as one of its deacons. He was active in the Republican Party as precinct committeeman and was a candidate for county commissioner. He also spent a time as judge pro-tem in a small Oregon city. Mitch passed away on July 24, 2002. Mitch’s children, friends from Rotary, and the Military Officers Club contributed to this Endowed ROTC Scholarship Fund in his memory.
Frank W. Gillespie was born September 27, 1912 in Gaines, Michigan. Following graduation from Gaines High School, he was selected to attend the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, and upon graduation was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. After graduation in 1936, he was assigned to the U.S. Army’s Flight School at Randolph Field, Texas. He graduated in 1937 and was awarded his pilot’s wings. After graduation that same year, he married Bobbie. Like many military wives, Bobbie traveled with and helped her husband in his duties in many foreign locations. They were assigned to the Panama Canal Zone where their first child Frank, Jr. was born. Two more sons, Michael and James, were born while Frank was assigned to the Pentagon. During his distinguished military career, Frank served in a variety of overseas and stateside assignments that brought him to the highest ranks of the Air Force. During World War II, he served in North Africa, Italy, and Hungary. Following World War II he was assigned as the Air Attache to Australia, in addition to stateside assignments in Pennsylvania, Florida, Washington D.C., and Minnesota. In 1959 he was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General and was the commander of the 25th Air Division at McCord Air Force Base in Tacoma, Washington. From 1961 to 1964 he commanded the 86th Air Division at Ramstein Air Force Base, Germany, before returning to the states to assume his final command. From 1964 to 1966, he was the commanding general of the 26th Air Division, Adair Air Force Station, Oregon. Following his retirement in 1966, Frank and Bobbie made the Willamette Valley and Corvallis their home. During the ensuing thirty-three years, both became committed to service to the community. Bobbie performed volunteer service for the Episcopal Church of the Good Samaritan, the American Red Cross, and the Good Samaritan Auxiliary. She was a chapter member of the Corvallis Assistance League. In 1968, Frank received a master’s degree in counseling and guidance from Oregon State University and worked for the Oregon Employment Service from 1980 to 1986. He was a member of the Corvallis Rotary Club, Corvallis Elks Lodge No. 1413, and the Albany Woodpeckers. Frank and Bobbie were members of the Corvallis Country Club and the Military Officers Club of Corvallis, where Frank served one term as president. Frank and Bobbie were also strong supporters of education and military service. Their son, Michael, graduated from OSU in 1967 and commissioned through Air Force ROTC as a second lieutenant. Brigadier General Gillespie passed away on July 21, 1996, and Bobbie followed him in May 1999. Friends and family contributed to this Endowed ROTC Scholarship in their memory.