Born May 20, 1922, in Richmond, Virginia, Milton Ruppert Beirne was the second of four children, all of whom attended St. Benedict Parochial School. Milton and his two brothers graduated as cadets from Benedictine High School while his sister attended St. Gertrude.
In school, Milton flourished in every subject and in athletics. He was the captain of the football team and co-captain of the basketball and baseball teams. Along with his talents on the field, Milton was also a gifted pianist and taught piano to neighborhood children.
After graduation in 1940, he attended Richmond Professional Institute, now Virginia Commonwealth University, with the hopes of one day attending the prestigious Julliard School of Music. But, like so many young men and women at the time, World War II altered his plans.
Army Air Corps Insignia
Milton volunteered to serve in the United States Army Air Corps. He trained in Midland, Texas and with his brother in Boise, Idaho. In the spring of 1944, he deployed to England with the 506th Squadron, 44thBomb Group, 8th Air Force as a bombardier. Sadly, his final mission came on July 29, 1944. He and his crew were assigned the mission to bomb shipbuilding facilities in Oslebshausen, Germany. Before reaching their assigned target, Milton’s plane went down over the English Channel with only one survivor.
His family was notified a few days after the crash. The altar of St. Benedict Church was decorated with poinsettias in his honor for the Midnight Mass that Christmas. While his body was never recovered, a memorial was placed in the Beirne Family section of Holy Cross Cemetery in Richmond.
The Virginia War Memorial honors and pays tribute to Milton and all of the 11,770 men and women who gave their lives so we could enjoy the freedoms we have today.