Philip Beitnes

Philip Beitnes Beloved father, grandfather, great-grandfather, Philip Beitnes, passed peacefully in his sleep at home surrounded by family, on March 23, 2013, just three months shy of his 94th birthday.

A celebration of his life will be held at the American Legion Post 684, on May 4, at 1 p.m., 641 W. Inyokern Rd. Each attendee is invited to bring a good story about him.

Born to Paul and May Beitnes (Paul a Norwegian immigrant, May a daughter of a Norwegian immigrant) in Mayville, N.D., June 21, 1919. His father died when Philip was 15,and he moved with his mother to Fargo N.D., to live with her parents and brother, Joe Olson, who took him under his wing.

During this period Philip engaged in farming, ranching and prohibition activities. At one point, driving livestock all the way to the stock yards in Fort Worth. He said being a cowboy was the hardest job he ever had.

Philip’s mother married a man from San Angelo, Texas, and moved there. Philip found a job in a hospital as an orderly. Eventually he was promoted to a surgeon’s assistant.

When World War II started, Philip joined the Army. He was inducted at the nearby facility, Fort Sam Houston, in October 1940. He was assigned to the 2nd Division, 371st Field Artillery Battalion, a spearhead division (three battalions instead of the normal four), which was an experimental division training in normal infantry methods, as well as cold-weather training, ski training and airborne training.

After this extensive special training, Philip’s unit was shipped to England and entered into the real war at Normandy, France, D-Day plus one, as a communications sergeant. His unit then pushed on to Belgium, the Battle of the Bulge, and on to Germany.

He earned the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Ribbon with five bronze stars, denoting five separate campaigns, the National Defense Ribbon, and the Good Conduct Ribbon. At the end of the war, he separated from the Army, three days shy of completing a five-year stint, in 1945.

Upon separation from the Army at Fort Sam Houston, Philip went back to work at the hospital until his Uncle Joe showed up in 1946 and persuaded him to go to China Lake, where he had obtained a job at the Naval Ordnance Test Station, with Caltech, working on the super-secret Camel T program, which was part of the Manhattan Project, the atom bomb.

When the program ended and Caltech pulled out, Philip became a civil service employee, and was instrumental in starting the Calibration Lab, which supported Sidewinder, Polaris, numerous other missiles and other programs.

Married in 1948 to Anne Jacobson, Philip had two sons, Brian and Anders. He retired from civil service in 1977. Philip enjoyed fishing at Lake Diaz and the streams surrounding Lone Pine, and traveling in Europe. He met a nice lady, Mrytle Ihle, and spent time with her. In later years, he committed himself to taking care of her in her ailing years.

Philip broke his pelvis in November 2012, and the doctors painted a grim prognosis. He proved them wrong and even ran a couple of victory laps around them, with the help of a walker.

As a widower, Philip leaves behind his two sons, Brian (Mary) and Anders (Judy); his grandchildren, Jesse (Casey), Jay (Lindsey), Nikki (Don), Phoebe, Sophie, and Audrey; and five great-grandchildren, Alannah, Brian, Trianna, Tyler and Haily. Also noteworthy, were Myrtle’s children Roland, who was like a son and a tremendous friend; David and Betty.

Phil was loved by everyone he came in contact with. He was kind, generous, a good friend, and would give you the shirt off his back. His passing leaves emptiness in our hearts that can only be filled by the memory of his kind words and deeds.

Submitted by the family of Philip Beitnes

Story First Published: 2013-05-01