Col. Louis Beck

The Career Army Intelligence Officer Served In Three Wars And Later Was A Baltimore School Board Aide

August 09, 2009|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

Col. Louis Beck, a retired career Army intelligence officer who served in three wars, died of liver failure Aug. 2 at the Veteran Administration's Extended Care and Rehabilitation Center in Northeast Baltimore.

He was 90 and had lived in Northwest Baltimore.

Colonel Beck, the son of parents from Lithuania and Belarus, was born and raised in Hartford, Conn., where he attended Hartford High School.

In 1943, he was inducted into the Army, where he earned his General Educational Development diploma.

After graduating from the Army's Counter-Intelligence School in Dallas, he held assignments at what were then Camp Polk and Camp Ploushe in Louisiana.

He was then assigned as a technical sergeant to a combat intelligence unit in Europe, where he fought at the Battle of the Bulge and the campaign for the Rhineland.

In 1945, he was commissioned a second lieutenant and was assigned as the public safety officer with the 7th Army headquarters in Heidelberg, Germany.

His World War II decorations included the Luxembourg Croix de Guerre and the Order de la Couronne with Palms.

During the Korean War, he was based in Japan, and he earned a Bronze Star for his intelligence work. He was later liaison to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization for military intelligence procedures.

In 1966, he was deployed to Vietnam for a year, where he was executive and operations officer for the military's counterintelligence division.

Colonel Beck was awarded the Oak Leaf Cluster for his Bronze Star for "distinguished service against hostile forces," said his daughter, Cindy Fox of Arnold.

His final assignment was at the Army's Military Intelligence School at Fort Holabird. He retired with the rank of lieutenant colonel in 1971.

"His military intelligence work was so secretive and sensitive that if he had an operation, a minder had to be in the hospital's operating room during surgery to make sure he didn't say anything important under anesthesia," said his son-in-law, David Fox, who also retired from the Army with the rank of lieutenant colonel.

Because the exact nature of his work was so sensitive, family members knew few details in recalling his various assignments.

"Had he been captured, he would have had to have ended his life by taking a cyanide pill," his daughter said.

While in the Army, he earned two bachelor's degrees from the University of Maryland, one in military history in 1961 and the second in English in 1963. He earned a master's degree in 1965 in liberal arts from the Johns Hopkins University.

After his military career ended, Colonel Beck was appointed executive assistant to the president of the Baltimore school board, a position he held for 13 years until retiring a second time in 1984.

The former Benhurst Road resident who later moved to Brighton Gardens, a Pikesville assisted-living facility, had spent the past year at the Veterans Administration center on Loch Raven Boulevard.

Colonel Beck enjoyed photography and reading history books. He was also an avid fan of classical music and opera.

He was a member of Beth El Congregation, Jewish War Veterans and Vietnam Veterans Association.

His wife of 64 years, the former Ruth Krugman, died in 2004.

Services with military honors will be held at 10 a.m. Aug. 24 at Arlington National Cemetery.

Also surviving are a son, Donald Beck of Eldersburg; a brother, Solomon Beck of Enfield, Conn.; a sister, Roselyn Eichelman of Windsor, Conn.; four grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

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