March 29, 1973
Tan Son Nhut Airport, Saigon
Under the terms of the negotiated peace agreement with North Vietnam, all U.S. combat troops leave Vietnam.
U.S. troops filed into a C-130; Army Master Sergeant Max Beilke was the last in line to board the aircraft. Colonel Bui Tin, head of the North Vietnamese observer team, handed Master Sergeant Beilke a rattan mat decorated with a painting of a pagoda. He told him he hoped Beilke would return as a tourist; he was certainly welcome to do so. Master Sergeant Beilke accepted Colonel Bui Tin’s gift, and boarded an aircraft for home. The last American combat soldier had left Vietnam.
Drafted in 1952. Korean veteran, Vietnam veteran, retired from the military in 1974; was this Minnesota farm boy through serving his country? Not at all. Wishing to continue his work with a heart for fellow veterans, Beilke completed his education earning a BA from the University of Maryland, and a Masters from the University of Central Michigan. He then went to work for the National Association of Uniformed Services, and later accepted a position with the Department of the Army as the Deputy Chief of Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Personnel, Retirement Services Division, where he labored tirelessly for veterans and their families. And he worked at the Pentagon.
September 11, 2001
Pentagon, Arlington, VA
War of Terror. Hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 hits the Pentagon.
Max Beilke was in a meeting on September 11, 2001 with Lieutenant General Timothy Maude and retired Lieutenant Colonel Gary Smith at the Pentagon when the hijacked airliner was crashed into the outer ring of the building by terrorists. These three men and seventy-one other personnel were killed.
To this patriot, forty-one years after he boarded the C-130 that would bring him home, the words of Abraham Lincoln from his Gettysburg Address are dedicated, because we remember and honor, always:
“It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us-that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion-that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain-that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom-and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”