Lt. Howard Vander Beek 1917-2014 (USN Retired), skipper of the LCC 60, thence by descent through his family. The successful purchaser of this lot will receive a notarized letter signed by the children of Howard Vander Beek attesting to the authenticity of the offered lot as being the actual flag belonging to their father and flown from his vessel on D-Day.
Lt. Howard Vander Beek's naval career spanned four years (1942-1946) in which he saw action in the European, Mediterranean and Pacific Theaters of operation, including action in three major sea land invasions and an eyewitness to history that few can equal.
Vander Beek was born in Oskaloosa, Iowa in 1917. He graduated from the University of Iowa in 1938 and entered service as a midshipman in October of 1942, at Notre Dame University, South Bend, Indiana. After graduation he was sent to Fort Pierce, Florida to train at the new Amphibious Naval Scouts and Raiders School (in many ways the forerunner of the modern day Navy Seals) whose focus it was to provide reconnaissance and raiding missions to support amphibious landings. In this role, Ensign Vander Beek participated in the invasion of Sicily on July 16, 1943, scouting favorable landing locations and assessing the overall situation in his assigned sector.
After the invasion of Sicily, Vander Beek was transferred to a new program and vessel that would serve in leading waves of troops and equipment ashore while under enemy attack. The newly developed vessel designed and built for this task was the Landing Craft Control. LCC's as they were called, were 56-feet in length, thirteen feet in beam and adorned with the latest technology including radar, various types of radio transmitters and receivers and manned with a crew of 14 typically drawn from Scouts and Raiders trained sailors. From a distance they looked like little cut-down PT boats. Their main job was to find and follow safe routes in to the beach, after leading in the first wave, they were to head back out and bring in the consecutive waves until relieved. After that, they were used as all-purpose command and control assets during the invasion.
Lt. Vander Beek's new assignment took him to England where he and his crew trained diligently and prepared for the invasion of continental Europe, known as Operation Overlord. Vander Beek's specific assignment that day was to guide troops into Utah Beach sector Green. Three boats that day were assigned the treacherous task of leading all the landing craft, troops, armored vehicles and materials to their goal of quickly establishing a foothold on continental Europe on the beach code named Utah on the Cherbourg Peninsula, part of the northwest coast of France. However, of the three boats tasked with that critical assignment of ensuring a successful landing, all were disabled before the invasion began, save one, the LCC-60 piloted by Lt. Howard Vander Beek. In his book, D-Day: June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II, Stephen Ambrose wrote, "That left only Vander Beek's LCC 60 as a guide for LCTs and the first wave of LCVPs at Utah. It was an impossible task for one boat to do the work of three, made even worse by the offshore wind and strong tidal current." Ambrose also accounts that during the chaotic time, €œLts. Howard Vander Beek and his navigator Sims Gauthier of the LCC 60 took charge. They conferred and decided to make up for the time lost by leading the LCTs to within three kilometers before launching the tanks (which were supposed to be launched at five kilometers) giving them a shorter and quicker run to the shore. Using his bullhorn, Vander Beek circled around the LCTs as he shouted out orders to follow him."
As luck would have it, the strong winds, currents and smoke steered their approach 500 yards or more, south of the designated landing area. Potentially this error was very serious, but as it turned out the errors in landing actually proved fortunate. Not only was the beach farther south less thickly obstructed, but the enemy shore defenses were also less formidable than those opposite the intended landing beaches. Vander Beek and crew, as the sole control vessel for Utah that day continued to lead the second and third waves successfully to Utah Beach, all the while as the offered flag flapped in the smoke, wind and bullet riddled air while attached to the staff on the stern of the LCC 60.
A few months later, Vander Beek and the crew of the LCC 60 found themselves of the coast of southern France in mid-August of 1944 once again guiding LCVP's to their costal strike points in what was code named Operation Dragoon. And, once again, the offered lot flew from the stern of Vander Beek's vessel, the LCC 60. After duty off the coast of Southern France, Vander Beek was transferred to the Pacific serving on the attack cargo ship U.S.S. Woodford which was one of the first groups of ships to enter Tokyo Bay (September 8, 1945) six days after the formal Japanese surrender ceremony on board the U.S.S. Missouri. In June of 1946 Vander Beek was released from active duty. Upon return to civilian life Howard married, had two sons, earned an M.A. in 1948 and a Ph.D. in 1952 from Columbia University in New York City. From there he became an English Professor at Iowa State Teachers College (now the University of Northern Iowa) writing a textbook on English and teaching summers at the University of Colorado. He retired as professor Emeritus of English in 1983. In 1995, Howard Vander Beek wrote and published an insightful war memoir under the title, "Aboard the LCC 60 Normandy and Southern France 1944."
The Vander Beek children interestingly note that of all their father's naval memorabilia, uniforms, pins, buttons, and medals, none were kept nor treasured except the offered lot- his flag, as well as a scrap book filled with black and white images of his time in service. Such, however should not be a surprise, for indeed in the American culture, there perhaps is nothing as iconic, powerful, moving, and poignant as an American flag flown in battle, from the circular 13-stars variant which flew at Valley Forge to the example hanging in the Smithsonian Institute which inspired Francis Scott Key to pen the National Anthem or to the image made famous by photographer Joe Rosenthal at the raising of the Stars and Stripes on Mount Suribachi at the Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II. As such, there is probably nothing that unites the American public as much as this symbol. It is usually, and sometimes sentimentally, invoked in an effort to express in a manner in which words are inadequate, the heroic actions, deeds, and losses of America's finest, both known and unknown. In recent times, the image of a tattered American flag hanging from the scorched and mangled iron beam jutting out of the rubble which was once the World Trade Centers in New York, in like manner, captured the hearts of a nation and engendered a sentiment of deep unity as Americans.
At the end of his memoirs, Vander Beek wrote of his first return to Normandy, on the 50th anniversary of D-Day, in June of 1994. "During the two weeks of stirring events commemorating the 1944 Normandy Invasion, the expressions of gratitude and manifestations of esteem were overwhelming...However, the most momentous experience for me, took place during a solitary stroll on the gray sands of Utah Beach. As I gazed pensively out upon undulating waters through a gossamer mist, the mental images of the LCC 60 and the seaman aboard her enacting their roles in a theater of hostility appeared. Then, gradually, the haze disintegrated, the ashen skies slowly changed to azure, and the billows calmed to gentle ripples on a silver-blue sheet. In the soft caress of an early June breeze, I felt the reassurance of His warm and comforting touch."
Notice: Jackson’s is your sole and only source for one stop packing and shipping. With over 50 years of experience, our professional, affordable and efficient in house shipping department will be happy to provide you a fair and reasonable shipping quote on this lot. Simply email us before the auction for a quick quote: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-800-665-6743. Jackson’s can expertly pack and ship to meet any of your needs. To ensure quality control Jackson’s DOES NOT release to third party shippers.