Major Jerome J. C. Beau, USMC (Ret.) passed away at his home on Feb. 2, 2010.
Jerry was born on Sept. 4, 1918, in Calvary, Wis., the eighth of nine children of Henry Simon Beau and Margarete Mary Brost.
Jerry came from a musical family. His mother played piano and guitar and his father played almost every instrument. Most of the children played in the family’s dance band, “The Wally Beau Orchestra.” Two of his brothers, Henry “Heinie” and Eddie, went on to become professional musicians and appeared in the Benny Goodman movie, “Sweet, Hot & Low Down” in 1944. Jerry’s mother wanted him to learn to play the violin but changed her mind after she caught him batting crab apples with the instrument. He learned to play the piano and the trumpet, and when he joined the Marine Corps, his biggest fear was that they would find out about his trumpet playing skills and make him a bugler.
Jerry grew up with firearms and was taught to use and respect them. He would carry his .22 caliber rifle to school, as did the other boys. He would check the traps that he set on his way to and from school.
Jerry said, “You never knew what you’re going to find in one of your traps. One time I found a mink, which brought substantially more money than a muskrat, and I became the richest kid in the third grade!”
He attended Fond du Lac High School.
He purchased a Model T Ford with his brother so they wouldn’t have to walk miles to school. They eventually sold the car to a Japanese scrap dealer for twice the money they paid for it.
Jerry joined the U.S. Marine Corps on Jan. 30, 1940, because “he wanted to collect souvenirs,” or so the story went. He was a “Mustang,” starting off as an enlisted man, and then became a Marines officer. He was a Marines Raider in B Company (later K Company) of the Third Marine Raider Battalion from Sept. 20, 1942, to Jan. 31, 1944, and participated in campaigns on Guadalcanal, Bougainville, and the Northern Solomons.
Jerry was spot commissioned as a second lieutenant on Sept. 28, 1944. On April 18, 1945, in Okinawa Shima, Ryukyu Islands, Jerry had an enemy soldier jump on his back with a grenade, but Jerry was able to throw him over and on top of his own grenade; however, Jerry caught some of the blast and he spent years picking shrapnel out that he swore came from his old Model T Ford.
Jerry then fought in the Okinawa campaign with C Company, 29th Marines, 6th Marine Division, where he was awarded a Bronze Star Medal for his actions on a mound of rock and dirt called [Sugar] Loaf Hill. Okinawa was secured on June 21, 1945, with nearly 7,000 Americans killed out of 25,000 total casualties.
On June 27, 1945, while on night jungle patrol, Jerry was bitten by a viper called a “habu.” Habus are deadly poisonous but Jerry refused to let them take his arm off and he spent two months in the Ninth Station Army Hospital where he declined a Purple Heart that was offered to him by an Army officer who didn’t know that Jerry was a Marine!
On Aug. 25, 1945, Jerry was promoted to first lieutenant and became adjutant to the battalion on Sept. 20, 1945. He ended up going to China from Sept. 30, 1945, to April 2, 1946.
While in China, Jerry was able to see the Walled City, the old section of Shanghai which is surrounded by 50-foot-high walls that are 30-feet thick. While in Peking, he got to see the Temple of Heaven, the Imperial City, the Forbidden City, the Winter Palace and the Royal Park. It was an historian’s dream come true for Jerry.
Jerry returned to the States in late April 1946, and served temporary duty at Headquarters Marine Corps in Washington, D.C., before being sent to Seattle, Wash.
During his tour in the South Pacific, Jerry learned the complexities of amphibious operations and loading and embarkation plans. Being a souvenir collector, he acquired the plans of every ship he was on.
He continued taking classes, collecting more plans, and he developed a network of people highly knowledgeable about loading and unloading ships. He found that his skills were highly sought after by the Navy during the Korean War.
On June 20, 1947, Jerry assumed the duty of inspector instructor, D Company, 11th Infantry Battalion in Spokane, Wash.
While in Spokane, Jerry met Grace (Orchard) Bunch, who had been widowed the prior December. Grace wanted nothing to do with Jerry at that time but he stayed in contact and eventually won her heart. They were married on Nov. 30, 1949; a marriage that was to last one month short of 50 years.
When the Korean War broke out, Capt. Beau was assigned to the U.S. Naval Forces, Far East, where he participated in the amphibious assault training and re-deployment of four infantry divisions between Japan and Korea; some 62,000 men along with their associated equipment and vehicles.
Before he retired from the Marine Corps on June 30, 1964, Major Beau completed three years assigned to the Central Intelligence Agency and another three with the National Security Agency. He would not discuss those six years of service except to say that, “He had no love for a certain Idaho Senator who tried to neuter the CIA.”
After Marine retirement, Jerry worked for the Fidelity National Bank in Filer, Idaho, he managed apartments in Twin Falls, Idaho, and then in 1975, he and Grace built their final home in Boise, Idaho.
In 1979, with Grace’s encouragement and assistance, Jerry started looking for the names of old friends he had served with in B/K Company, Third Marine Raider Battalion. He began securing muster roles of the company from the National Archives and the Marine Corps Historical Center. Then he started gathering muster rolls of the other companies in the battalion and eventually of all the Raider battalions. Finally in 1996, he published a compilation of every Marine and Navy man who ever served in the U.S. Marine Raiders during WWII, including those wounded in action, those killed in action and those missing in action and included their decoration awards.
Jerry was still providing information to his grandchildren and his great-grandchildren of “Raiders” up until the time of his passing.
He will be sorely missed.
Jerry, we salute you! Semper Fidelis!
Jerry was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Grace, his father and mother, five brothers and two sisters.
He is survived by his sister, Lucille S. Murphey; two daughters, Patricia A. Fisher and Erlene L. Fields; his granddaughters, Melissa Beau, Krystal Fisher, Danielle Fisher and LeeAnn Fields; his grandsons, Robert Lightfoot, Michael Lightfoot and Tim Fields; and numerous great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 20, 2010, at the Alden-Waggoner Funeral Chapel, 5400 Fairview Ave., Boise, Idaho. Cremation is under the direction of Alden-Waggoner. Inurnment will follow at Morris Hill Cemetery with full Military Honors provided by the United States Marine Corps.
The Alden-Waggoner Funeral Chapel of Boise, Idaho, is serving the family.