Frederick ‘Fred’ Bien

Frederick ‘Fred’ BienFrederick “Fred” Bien passed away peacefully on Dec. 2, 2019, at the age of 86.

Fred was born Aug. 25, 1933, to Edward and Daisy Bien in Beijing, China. When the Japanese invaded China in 1937, his family was forced to move from Beijing to various locations throughout the country.

His father, a geologist with the Geologic Survey of China, was assigned to explore for petroleum in various locations in China; his family accompanied him. These locations included south-central China, central China and finally the Yumen Oilfield in the Gobi Desert of northwestern China.

The instability of constant moves, together with Fred’s chronic asthmatic condition that had minimal medical help in China, made for a chaotic, stressful growing-up period for Fred.

The war ended in 1945, and Fred’s father was sent by the Geologic Survey of China to the United States to train with American oil companies. The family arrived in the U.S. in 1946 and settled in Bakersfield, where Fred’s father worked with Richfield Oil Company.

Fred was enrolled immediately in sixth grade and immersed in learning English. He learned rapidly and was proficient enough in English after a year to be fully competitive with his American-born peers.

In 1949, after the Communist took over China, Fred’s parents decided to remain in the United States. His father joined the Richfield Oil Company and applied for U.S. citizenship for the family. Fred went on to graduate from Bakersfield High School in 1953 and earned an associate of arts degree from Bakersfield Junior College. He then enrolled in University of California at Berkeley and received a bachelor of science degree in physics in 1957.

After graduation, Fred joined the Naval Ordnance Test Station (now the Naval Air Weapons Station) at China Lake and began a very successful career in weapons systems research and operations analysis.

In 1963 he was awarded a fellowship to attend graduate school at the University of Arizona.

He received numerous letters of commendation for his performance at NOTS and was awarded a patent for the development of targeting optics.

To satisfy his love of travel he accepted several offsite assignments including a one-year position in Italy, where he was a participant in the Naval Scientist Training and Exchange Program. After his retirement in 1988 from what was by then the Naval Weapons Center, he and a group of colleagues were presented with the United States Navy Award of Merit for a warfare systems architecture and engineering project.

Fred maintained a very active life during and after his career at China Lake. He was an avid snow skier and fly fisherman. He learned how to fly and obtained a private pilot’s license. This enabled him fly to remote areas to pursue his interests in skiing and fly fishing. He also developed an interest in sailing, and after he retired, he purchased a sailboat. He and his wife Carole lived on the boat for five years and explored the coast of California and Mexico.

Fred had a very active and enjoyable life. He had many friends, including those who enjoyed his Chinese cooking and who will miss their annual Chinese cooking and eating festival. Among his best friends was his dog Vinny who provided joy, peace and companionship during the latter phase of Fred’s life,

He is survived by his wife Carole and stepdaughter Sonia (Reid), brother Albert, former wife Eva and their children Michael, Patrick and Guy, and grandchildren Patrick, Ashley and Morgan.

— Submitted by the family of Fred Bien

Story First Published: 2019-12-20