Bean obit

Henry Randall Bean

Henry Randall Bean


Henry Randall Bean was born at home Dec. 11, 1917, in the town of Mascot, Cochise County, Ariz. (in the district of Dos Cabezas). His parents were Thomas Payne Bean and Thelma Adelle Anderson Bean. He had one younger brother, Frank Richard Bean, who was also born and raised in Dos Cabezas. Henry never married or had any children.

The accomplishments listed for Henry in the 1936 (senior year) high school Cowboy Annual were basketball, tennis and theater. He was fondly known by the nickname of “Enriko Frijo.”

At the time Henry was growing up, it was not unusual for him to experience hunting with his uncles, Edgar Anderson and Ben Anderson, in the Dos Cabezas hills where they lived. According to Ed Smith, a friend who also lived nearby in Dos Cabezas, “Henry liked to practice quick draw with a gun that belonged to his grandfather (Onslow Bean). Henry was sitting at the table facing his dad, Tom, made a quick draw and the gun went off, barely missed Tom and blew a hole in the kitchen sink. I don’t think Henry ever wore the gun again. He told me that he almost killed his dad.”

Henry had a good sense of humor and was well liked by those who knew him. After high school, he worked at the local First Chance Mine in the mechanical, electric maintenance and bookkeeping fields. Later, he moved to Los Angeles to live with his uncle, Oliver Anderson, and aunt, Violet Beals. While there, he studied electricity at Frank Wiggins Trade School in conjunction with trigonometry at Franklin High School in Los Angeles and worked as an apprentice in the electrical field.

On Oct. 13, 1941, Henry enlisted in the Army Air Corps in Los Angeles. He attended the Army’s Technical School for Communications — Class Eleven, at Scott Field, Ill. The instruction he received took him to numerous in-depth training areas, where he traveled to MacDill Field, Tampa, Florida and Windover Field, Utah.

Tucked away in his 1942 Scottfield training alumni book was a newspaper clipping from his mother entitled “A Parent’s Prayer,” which goes as follows, “Heavenly Father, watch over and protect my son. Banish from my heart all anxiety. Help me to rejoice that he can be of service. May thy love and teachings guide him always. May he strive to do Thy Will. Help him to overcome temptation. Keep him strong, manly and cheerful. Help him to work hard, play fair and ever be wholesome and pure. May he be loyal and willing to sacrifice without flinching. May he hold dear the ties of home and friends. Give him courage and strength to do his utmost for God, country and humanity. Grant, O Lord, that victory and peace may soon be established. Into Thy gracious keeping I commend my son. Through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Amen.”

After Henry’s Scottfield training, he was stationed at RAF Thurleigh, England, where he became a radio operator with the “Grim Reapers” 423 Bombardment Squadron (H) and the 306th Bombardment Group (H). (H stands for heavy.) He flew on 22 missions over the skies of Europe. On his last mission, his plane encountered heavy flak, and a fire broke out in the compartment where Henry was stationed. The fire cut off communication with the front of the plane. Henry and two waist gunners bailed out over the English Channel. He only had three missions left to complete his tour.

Historian Clifford Deets, with the 306th Bombardment Group Historical Association, called the May 1, 1943, mission where Henry became MIA “one of the most notable in the 306th history.” This mission was also referred to and chronicled in the Stars and Stripes as the “May Day Massacre” by then-Private Andy Rooney (better known for his journalism and commentary on “60 Minutes”).

For his bravery and sacrifice, Henry received the Air Medal, three Oak Leaf Clusters and the Purple Heart. He is remembered on the Veterans Memorial Wall in Normandy, France, and now at home in the United States in Dos Cabezas, Ariz.

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