GySgt. Stanton Beale was born March 17, 1937, in Philadelphia, PA. Keeping his real age a secret, at fifteen, he began his military career by enlisting in the United States Navy at the 30th Surface Division 4th Naval District in Pennsylvania on December 9, 1952. He completed Navy boot camp in Bainbridge, MD.
In 1953 then assigned to submarine chase ship PCER-853, 4TH Naval District Academy Indianapolis, MD. On March 22, 1954, after two years of service in the U.S. Navy, Seaman Apprentice Beale’s true age was determined, and he received a minority discharge COG from the Navy. On March 23, 1954, now being of legal age to serve in the armed forces, he joined the United States Marine Corps. He shipped off to boot camp at Parris Island, SC, and began his Marine Corps career.
Pvt. Beale was among the first waves of black recruits to go through recruit training at Parris Island following President Harry S. Truman’s executive order for a full integration policy of the armed forces in 1949. Prior to that, all black recruits that joined the Marine Corps went through recruit training at Montford Point.
Pfc. Beale graduated from Parris Island in June of 1954 and was now ready to begin a career in Marine Corps Aviation. He was sent to Naval Air Tactical Training Command (NATTC) in Jacksonville, FL, for Airmen Prep School. Next, he was sent to continue training as an aircraft structural mechanic in Memphis, TN.
After completing MOS school, he was given orders to report to Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) El Toro, CA, in 1954. Then Pfc. Beal was transferred to Fleet Marine Force Pacific (FMFPac) 1st Marine Air Wing Division NAS 955 Iwakuni, Japan. He was assigned to repair aircraft MARS-17 at the tail end of the Korean War. Cpl. Beale stayed in Iwakuni until October of 1958, and then he was transferred to Cherry Point, NC, until 1960. Again he was transferred back to 1st Air Wing VMR-253 for a secondary OS as an aircraft member MOS as aircraft engine mechanic, where he was given the billet of and flew as 1st mechanic crew member. Later in his career, he qualified as a crew chief for R4Q-1 and R4Q-2 transports for Marines in and out of Laos, Thailand, during the conflict from 1960 through 1963. Sgt. Beale’s MOS also led him to join MAG-11 NAS Atsugi, Japan, east camp 1964. He returned to VMGR-352 in El Toro, assigned to KC-130F fuels systems school and NCOIC fuel systems.
After completing fuel systems school, Sgt. Beale had a burning desire to complete each phase of KC-130F systems school to qualify as a KC130F flight engineer. His MOS did not allow him to take these courses, so to complete all phases of his training, SSgt. Beale had to complete them in an unorthodox way. By taking leave during off-duty time and being allowed by senior Staff NCO’s to complete these courses, SSgt. Beale was finally able to complete training. After completing all the required courses, he received orders to report back to 1st Air Wing at MCAS-Futema Okinawa, Japan, to serve on a flight crew in Vietnam. He now had only one day and one last chance to qualify as KC-130F flight engineer, and he needed a full flight crew in order to qualify.
SSgt. Beale assembled all of the crew except for a test engineer. Forced with major opposition because of racial tension, no one would volunteer to give the test. MSgt. Nicoranic, hearing of this dilemma, came back early from his leave to fill in the position and administer the flight test. Flight tests for a flight engineer 3 included in-flight aircraft emergencies that the engineer must handle. Gunny handled four actual in-flight emergencies.
After completion of the test, the KC-130F taxied down the runway with a full audience awaiting. MSgt. Nicoranic stepped out of the bird and said to the onlooking crowd, “Your lily-white flight line is gone...this man is qualified.” To the cheers of the whole flight line in April of 1966, SSgt. Beale became the first black flight engineer in the Marine Corps On KC130F Aircraft.
He was then immediately transferred to Vietnam.
While in Vietnam, SSgt. Beale flew aerial support, provided inflight refueling of attack aircraft over targets, flair drops at night in the DMZ at Ashau Valley, troop transportation of wounded, WIA, KIA, and provided logistical combat support of all troops in all locations, including Kasan under constant attack under fire during landing and takeoff. To qualify for one air medal, a flight must take 20 hits on 20 occasions. SSgt. Beale qualified for 23 recorded citations. “On a side note, most crew members had twice as many unrecorded flights than recorded,” state GySgt. Beale.
He extended his tour at every opportunity given and stayed in Vietnam from 1966 through 1969. Returning to the U.S. in 1970, he was ordered TAD to Naval Squad VXE-6 Quonset Point, RI, to fly Lc-130R aircraft (ski-equipped aircraft to land in snow and ice conditions). Trained in extremely cold weather survival to prepare to participate in operation Deep Freeze in Antarctica. McMurdo Station was the base of operation, and the crew’s mission was to supply logistical support for scientific research all over Antarctica.
GySgt. Beale was the flight engineer for the longest flight recorded in Marine Corps history, which began at McMurdo Station and extended to Russian Station Vostok in sub-degree temperatures and back. He received an Antarctic Expeditionary Medal for the mission he and his crew completed. His crew was also recommended for a citation from President Nixon for that flight achievement and the diplomacy of this event because it was the first pertaining to relations between the Soviet Union and the U.S. GySgt. Beale completed that duty by walking on the actual point of the South Pole. He returned to Vietnam in 1971 back to fly a similar mission. His unit was one of the last aircraft to remain in Vietnam until 1972.
GySgt. Beale ended his career in 1975 in El Toro after 21-1/2 years of active service. “The Marine Corps has given a boy from the streets of Philadelphia a chance to travel around the world 12 and a half times. I am forever grateful for the opportunity that the Marine Corps has given to me.”