Doug Beckstead

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It is fitting that as our nation celebrates its rich history this Independence Day, we celebrate the life of a man who dedicated himself to preserving the history of our great state and nation. Well-respected historian, Doug Beckstead, suddenly passed away in his home Tuesday, July 1. He leaves behind his loving wife of 30 years, Carol; daughter Rebekkah; son-in-law Justin; and grandson Aiden;son Jeremiah; daughter-in-law Korinne; and granddaughters Katie, Amelia and Memory. Services will be held 11 a.m., Wednesday, July 9th, at St. Nicholas of Myra Church in Anchorage.

Doug was born September 24, 1958 in Salt Lake City, Utah. He graduated in 1985 from the University of Utah, with triple Bachelor degrees in history, geography and political science and triple master's degrees in history, law and anthropology in 1992.

In 2006, Doug began an assignment that changed the history of not only his life, but also the lives of all Alaskan Air Force personnel, past and present. Doug joined the 3rd wing Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson as a military historian - researching, collecting information and writing the history of the 11th Air Force Alaska NORAD region.

Doug deployed as a civilian to combat zones three times in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he wrote living history of military operations there. In Afghanistan, he was most proud of his volunteering time at the hospital heli-pad, where he was known as "the big guy," pulling the litters off of the helicopters and into the hospital.

Among the many lives he touched was the family of 2nd Lieutenant Harold Hoskin. Doug's determined efforts led to the 2006 discovery of Hoskin's remains from a B-24 crash in the Alaska wilderness in 1943. Doug's research helped the remains be identified in 2007 and laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery.

In 2009, Doug received the John R. Burton Award, a biennial award given to the best history office in the Air Force.

Doug, known by many as a true friend and scholar, was very giving of his time, serving on the board of the Cook Inlet Historical Society, as a member of the Alaska Historical Society and worked with "We the People," a high school civics competition program, as well as a UAA student showcase, helping put together the National History day competition, and "Alaska at War," an international conference to commemorate the 50th anniversary of WWII in Alaska. He also volunteered for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and was a board member of Assistance Resources of Alaska. Doug was a close friend of Santa and helped Santa numerous times here in state and in Afghanistan.

For those wishing to honor Doug's memory, the family requests donations be made to his favorite charity - Assistance Resources of Alaska, 431 East 45th Avenue, Anchorage, AK 99503.

Published in Alaska Dispatch News from July 4 to July 5, 2014
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