Rank Insignia Previous Honoree ID Next Honoree ID

honoree image
First Name: Kermit

Last Name: Beahan

Birthplace: Joplin, MO, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Air Force (1947 - present)

Middle Name: K.

Date of Birth: 09 August 1918

Date of Death: 09 March 1989

Rank: Lieutenant Colonel

Years Served:
Kermit K. Beahan

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Kermit K. Beahan
Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Air Force

Kermit K. Beahan was born on 9 August 1918 in Joplin, MO. He attended Rice University on a football scholarship during the 1930s.

Beahan, a Bombardier, took part in the first B-17 raids in Europe. He flew 12 missions over Europe and 19 missions over North Africa. He was in planes that were shot down and crash landed twice in Europe and twice in North Africa. He returned to the U.S. as a bombing instructor in Midland Texas.

In the summer of 1944, he was recruited by Colonel Paul Tibbets to be part of the 509th Composite Group which was created to deliver the atomic bomb. He flew on the Hiroshima mission in The Great Artiste, a B-29 that was named after him, purportedly because he could hit a pickle barrel with a bomb from 30,000 feet, or he was "good with the fairer sex."

On 9 August 1945, Beahan's 27th birthday, he was the bombardier on the B-29 Superfortress Bockscar, which dropped the atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan.

Following the Japanese surrender, he returned to the U.S. as a crewman in the record-breaking 1945 Japan-Washington flight under Lieutenant General Barney M. Giles. He retired from the Air Force in 1964.

Medals and Awards

Silver Star Medal
Distinguished Flying Cross (3 Awards)
Air Medal (8 Awards)
Purple Heart (2 Awards)

In Retirement

After retiring from the Air Force, Beahan worked as a technical writer for the engineering and construction firm Brown & Root through 1985.

In 1985, on the 40th anniversary of the Nagasaki bombing, Beahan said he would never apologize for the bombing, and that he had been thanked for his role by a group of 25 Japanese. He said the bombing was the "best way out of a hell of a mess." Beahan hoped that he would forever remain the last man to have dropped an atomic bomb.

Death and Burial

Lieutenant Colonel Kermit K. Beahan died on 9 March 1989 in Houston, TX. He is buried at the Houston National Cemetery in Houston, TX.

Honoree ID: 2230   Created by: MHOH




Honoree Photos

honoree imagehonoree imagehonoree image

honoree imagehonoree image

honoree image