Famous Normandy World War II Pathfinder Has Died At 92


With great sadness we learn the passing of Maynard L. Beamesderfer, a World War II Pathfinder of D-day. He was 92.

Beamesderfer, whom his many friends affectionately called “Beamy,” served as one of the original 350 Pathfinders, who were the first combat paratroopers to jump into Normandy, France, before the D-Day invasion in 1944.

The Pathfinders were tasked with setting homing devices to direct incoming aircraft which followed and carried the Allies’ paratroopers for the invasion. The homing devices guided the planes and paratroopers to their intended drop zones in Normandy along the western coast of France.

Being a Pathfinder was dangerous work but laid the ground work for the successful invasion at Normandy, which many historians characterize as the beginning of the end for Nazi Germany.

Beamesderfer had recently suffered a stroke, but Ceballos wasn’t sure if his death was related to that or what the exact cause was.

"We all had an awful lot of respect for Beamy because of how much he must have suffered during World War II," Ceballos said. "All the World War II veterans suffered a lot and went through a lot during that period of time."

Beamesderfer also did a combat jump during Operation Market Garden, the Allies’ failed invasion of Holland, and he fought during the Battle of the Bulge.

He was also active in the local chapter of the 82nd Airborne Division Association, where he had many friends and was widely respected.

A native of Pennsylvania, he was an electrician by trade, Ceballos said. Beamesderfer was instrumental when the local paratrooper organization renovated a dilapidated building on Fort Boulevard in Central El Paso and turned it into its clubhouse in the late 1990s, Ceballos said. The club still uses that building.

Ceballos characterized Beamesderfer as a quiet often reserved man, who was fun-loving once you got to know him.

World War II veterans are dying off at a rate of more than 400 a day, according to various groups that track this, Ceballos said. The local airborne veterans group is down to just six World War II veterans, he said.

Beamesderfer’s World War II service was highlighted in the book “First to Jump,” authored by the New York Times best-selling author Jerome Preisler.

Beamesderfer left the Army after World War II with a rank of acting first sergeant, Ceballos said.

On behalf of the members of The Greatest Generations Foundation, thank you for your service to our country. We will never forget you. 

Remember Those Who Served
The Greatest Generations Foundation