Duane Beeson was born on July 16, 1921, in Boise, Idaho. He enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force on August 15, 1941 and transferred to the British Royal Air Force's American Eagle Squadron 71 on September 5, 1942. Beeson then joined the U.S. Army Air Forces on September 23, 1942, and served with the 334th Fighter Squadron of the 4th Fighter Group, becoming its commanding officer on March 15, 1944. During the war, Beeson was credited with destroying 17.33 enemy aircraft in aerial combat, plus an additional 5 while strafing airfields, before being shot down and taken as a Prisoner of War by the Germans on April 5, 1944. After spending 390 days in captivity, he was released when the Russians freed the prison camp he was being held in on April 29, 1945. After the war, he was stationed at Sarasota Army Air Field, Florida, where he met Tracy Waters. They were married in January 1946. Col Beeson was diagnosed with a brain tumor and died on a plane flight to have an operation on February 13, 1947. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
His Distinguished Service Cross Citation reads:
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Duane W. Beeson (AO-885184), Captain (Air Corps), U.S. Army Air Forces, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving as Pilot of a P-51 Fighter Airplane in the 334th Fighter Squadron, 4th Fighter Group, EIGHTH Air Force, in aerial combat against enemy forces on 29 January 1944, in the European Theater of Operations. On this date Captain Beeson shot down two enemy aircraft. Captain Beeson's unquestionable valor in aerial combat is in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflects great credit upon himself, the 8th Air Force, and the United States Army Air Forces.