Harry Milton Beal was born Aug. 16, 1930, in Meyersdale, Pennsylvania. Not wanting any part of the coal mines, he volunteered for the Navy in 1948 as a gunner’s mate, his first duty was aboard the destroyer tender USS Shenandoah (AD-26). Sounds boring, right? So much so that Harry, after his first three-year stint was up, tried to join the circus but in the end, remained working for Uncle Sam.
Soon volunteering for more exotic duty, Harry made the ranks of the Navy’s frogmen of Underwater Demolition Team 21 in 1955 where he had a chance to “run around in swim trunks and boondockers all day.”
Then came parachute training, helo casting, and all sorts of other stuff. When the call went out for the SEALs, Harry was on record as being the first on the roster of plankowners in 1962.
“President Kennedy wanted some idiots who could see lightning, hear thunder, bounce a ball off their nose and has stupid written right there and I put my hand up,” said Harry.
After retiring from the Navy in 1968 after a couple turns in Vietnam, Harry went back home to the Keystone State, where he worked for PennDOT for another 20 years.
He pushed off from the beach for the last time on 26 January, striking out for his next assignment.
Here he is speaking in 2017, at age 87.