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Info Sheet/Obituary - Neal Gordon Beard
Died 15 April 2009

Neal Gordon Beard, 61, died suddenly on April 15, 2009 in Vancouver, Washington. His passing is a great loss to friends and family.

Neal was born December 31, 1947 at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, the son of Harley E. Beard and Berniece S. Menze. He was baptized into the Christian faith at Trinity Lutheran Church in Lincoln, Nebraska. He moved to Bellevue, Washington with his family in 1957. He was confirmed in his faith in 1962 at Pilgrim Lutheran Church in Bellevue.

Neal was a member of the Boy Scouts and an active participant in the Explorer Scout Search and Rescue program. He graduated from Sammamish High School in 1966 and attended Bellevue Community College before enlisting in the United States Army on July 24, 1967.

Neal earned his helicopter pilot's wings and was commissioned a Warrant Officer on April 26, 1968. During his Army service, Neal had two combat tours as a helicopter pilot in Vietnam, serving with the 176th Aviation Company, 16th CAG, F Troop (Air), 4th Cavalry, 5th Special Forces; HHC 2nd Brigade, Aviation Section 101st Airborne Division (Airmobile), and the 120th Assault Helicopter Company.

He was decorated for heroism with the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Silver Star. He was also awarded the Bronze Star and 16 Air Medals. As a result of his efforts, the lives of many American solders were saved during heavy combat.

Following his separation from active service, Neal flew Chinook helicopters with the 92nd Aviation Company.Neal returned to Seattle in 1973 and settle in Kirkland and then Bellevue, Washington. He worked for Bethlehem Steel before becoming a letter carrier for the U. S. Postal Service on Mercer Island before retiring in 1992. He later worked for the Icom Company in Bellevue and for Werner Trucking as a truck driver, moving to Kettle Falls, Washington before returning to Bellevue in 2004. He moved to Vancouver to work for Key Trucking.

He was an avid online gamer, participated in Civil War reenactments and loved to ride his Harley Davidson motorcycle. Neal was a member of the Vietnam Helicopter Association, the Vietnam Veterans of America, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the Harley Owners Group. He was a member of the committee that worked for the establishment of Tahoma National Cemetery.

He was preceded in death by his parents and two grandchildren. He leaves to mourn one sister, Nikki Rene Martin of Mt. Angel, Oregon; one brother, Gary of Bellevue, adopted brother Scott of Indian Trail, North Carolina; a son, Neal E. Beard of Lawton, Oklahoma; a daughter, Sarah News of Oakland, California; a grandson, Jesse Beard; four nephews and three nieces. A graveside memorial service was held at 1:30 p.m. on Friday, May 8, 2009, at Tahoma National Cemetery, Kent, Washington.