Lieutenant (Sep.) Robert Beatson enlisted in the Army, Jan. 8, 1941, then volunteered for the Army Air Corps and received his navigator wings April 22, 1943. A year later he had flown 30 missions over Europe aboard a B-24 Liberator from England. During his 28th mission, his aircraft was attacked head-on by German fighters. Beatson, at his navigator’s station was hit by a German 20mm cannon shell that ripped into his chest, left side, thigh and leg. The waist gunner had also been hit and an on-board fire forced the pilot to pull out of formation. The crew had a choice … try to land in neutral Switzerland or nurse the crippled bomber back to England. They voted and turned towards England. Beatson, while injured, continued to perform his navigator duties. His blood dripped onto the aircraft’s floor and bombsight, freezing. “I will always remember the color of frozen blood,” he recalled. They made it home and Beatson would spend a week in a hospital recovering. For his actions, Lt. Beatson was awarded his second Distinguished Flying Cross.
After the war, Beatson graduated from Georgetown University and became an F.B.I. agent. He was also very active in veteran’s affairs and is a former president of the Eight Air Force Historical Society, National Capital Area Chapter.