Robert Beale was born on January 24, 1934, in Norfolk, Virginia. He was commissioned a 2d Lt through the Air Force ROTC program on June 7, 1955, and went on active duty beginning November 15, 1955. Beale completed Undergraduate Pilot Training and was awarded his pilot wings at Greenville AFB, Mississippi, in February 1957. After completing F-86 Sabre Combat Crew Training, he was assigned to the 45th Fighter Day Squadron at Sibi Slimane AB, Morocco, where he served from September 1957 to February 1958. He then transferred to the 77th Fighter Bomber Squadron at RAF Wethersfield, England, where he served until September 1960. Beale then completed an Air Force Institute of Technology assignment in October 1962 and served as a Weapons Systems Engineer until he was selected to attend Test Pilot School at Edwards AFB, Colifornia, in June 1963. After completing Test Pilot School, Beale served as a Flight Test Pilot at Eglin AFB, Florida, from August 1964 to August 1966. He attended Air Command and Staff College from August 1966 to November 1967, and was then assigned to the 44th Tactical Fighter Squadron as an F-105 Wild Weasel pilot at Korat Royal Thai AFB, Thailand, from November 1967 until September 1968. Col Beale then served with Headquarters U.S. Air Force in the Pentagon from September 1968 to August 1971, followed by Air War College from August 1971 to June 1972. After graduating from Air War College, he served as a Flight Test Officer at Edwards AFB from June 1972 to January 1974. Col Beale next served as Vice Commander and then Commander of the 24th Composite Group at Howard AFB, Panama, from January 1974 to August 1975. He served with the 4th Tactical Fighter Wing at Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina, from August 1975 to June 1978. His final assignment was as Director of Armament and Avionics Requirements on the Staff at Headquarters Tactical Air Command at Langley AFB, Virginia, from June 1978 until his retirement from the Air Force on June 30, 1979.
His Air Force Cross Citation reads:
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Air Force Cross to Robert S. Beale, Major, U.S. Air Force, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force as an F-105 Thunderchief pilot on a missile suppression mission on an isolated vital military target near Hanoi, North Vietnam, on 16 December 1967. On that date, Major Beale braved many concentrations of heavy antiaircraft artillery fire and eighteen surface-to-air missiles as he successfully led his missile suppression flight in diverting the hostile defenses away from the main strike force. He contributed to the destruction of one missile site only three miles from the center of the heavily defended target area and damaged at least one other missile complex. As a result of his actions, the main strike force suffered no losses, encountered only four missiles, and successfully destroyed this vital military target. Through his extraordinary heroism, superb airmanship, and aggressiveness in the face of hostile forces, Major Beale reflected the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.