Hamilton County

Lt. Col. Willis E. Beightol





"I wish the people in America could know the whole story. They would put a stop to all this business of strikes and would really put their backs in the war effort,” says Lieut. Col. Willis Beightol in a cablegram to his mother, Mrs. Grace Beightol of Webster City. Colonel Beightol is now located in the Middle East sector.

Mrs. Beightol has four sons in service: Duane A., at the Ottumwa air base, Lieut. Col. Willis, Aviation Cadet Ward Weldon, and Pfc. Leroy E.

Source: Daily Freeman Journal, Webster City, IA - July 8, 1943


Webster City Aviator Given Purple Heart for Action.

Lieutenant-Col. Willis E. Beightol, son of Mrs. Grace Beightol of this city, mentioned in the following Associated Press dispatch from Cairo as the recipient of a Purple Heart award for wounds received in the raid on the Ploesti oil fields in Rumania, also took part in the epochal raid on Rome, July 19.

The Rumanian raid last Sunday was a decisive blow to Hitler’s oil supply with reports filtering back via Turkey that unprecedented damage was done by the U.S. bombers which came in low over their target despite heavy anti-aircraft fire and dogged opposition by German fighters.

Daring Action

CAIRO —(AP)—Less than 2 hours after their raid on the Ploesti oil fields in Rumania last Sunday a score of officers and men were decorated with the Purple Heart by Maj. Gen. Lewis H. Bremerton, commander of the ninth air force, for wounds received in the daring action.

The recipients included Lt. Col. Willis E. Beightol, Webster City, Iowa.

Source: Webster City Freeman - Aug. 5, 1943


Mrs. Grace Beightol of this city has just received a telegram from the war department confirming the Associated Press dispatch from Cairo, Egypt, Aug. 5, which said that her son, Lt. Col Willis E. Beightol, had been wounded in the epochal flight by U.S. bombers over the Ploesti oil fields in Rumania on Aug. 1. Extent of the injury was not known but the AP article stated the Webster City flier had been awarded the Purple Heart following the flight.

Source: Daily Freeman Journal, Webster City, IA - Aug. 20, 1943

Col. Beightol Depicted in Scenes of B-29 Base at Saipan.

Lt. Col. Willis Beightol, veteran Webster City army airman, is serving as a staff officer with the B-29 forces based on Saipan and is pictured in recent newsreels taken of Superfort activity in that sector of the Pacific.

Colonel Beightol’s mother, Mrs. Grace Beightol, has received word from Ensign Henry (Bud) Hovland, also of this city, that he had recently seen two of the latest newsreels by Paramount and RKO—Pathe and was very surprised to see the Webster City officer clearly depicted on the screen.

Ensign Hovland, now serving aboard a destroyer-escort, said in his letter that he had gone to see a movie and with it was a newsreel showing a B-29 base on Saipan. The news pictures showed the planes and the pilots preparing for a mission over Tokio. Then the pilots were shown heading for the “briefing” room, where they receive their final instructions.

“The officer giving them the briefing lecture,” Ensign Hovland, “was none other than Willis.  I could hardly believe my eyes when I first saw it.”

Later the Navy officer saw a different newsreel showing the same scenes. Major Robert Mitterling and his parents, Drs. E. S. and Christine O. Mitterling of this city, have also reported seeing the same news pictures while in Des Moines recently.

Colonel Beightol, Webster City’s highest ranking air officer, is a veteran of many aerial campaigns in the Middle East theater and was among the American pilots who made the epic first air assault upon the oil fields of Ploesti, and attack in which he as wounded.

Source: Daily Freeman Journal, January 3, 1945

NOTES: Ward David and Grace Townsend Beightol were the parents of five sons and one daughter. Their son, Lt. Col. Willis Eugene Beightol was awarded the Purple Heart.

Sons, Maj. Ward Weldon Beightol and Lt. Col. Willis Eugene Beightol both served in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.

Sources: Daily Freeman Journal and ancestry.com