Jefferson Davis Beard was born in Pensacola, Florida, on January 30, 1898, son of John Shepard Beard and Genevieve Sullivant Beard, both deceased. He attended Staunton (Virginia) Military Academy before receiving an appointment to the United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, from the Third Congressional District of Florida on July 2, 1917. He was a member of the crew squad as a midshipman, and upon graduating in June, 1921, he was commissioned Ensign. By subsequent promotions, he attained the rank of Captain to date from June 21, 1942. Upon his transfer to the Retired List of the Navy on March 1, 1952, he was promoted to Rear Admiral on the basis of combat awards.
After graduating in 1921, he remained at the Naval Academy on temporary duty. In November of that year, he joined USS California, flagship of the US Pacific Fleet, for duty as Assistant Communication Officer, and after June, 1922 he had other duties aboard that battleship until detached in July, 1923. He then had duty in the Asiatic Fleet, consecutively in USS Hart, Mine Detachment, August 1923-May-1924; USS Pampanga, South China Patrol, May, 1924- January 1925; USS Abarenda, Receiving Ship based at Cavite, P.I., January-September, 1925; USS Canopus, tender of Submarine Division 17 and flagship of Submarine Divisions, Asiatic Fleet. As Gunnery Officer during that period, he won the Gunnery Trophy in the gunboat class each year, 1924-25.
He took passage in the battleship Colorado for the West Coast, and after a period of leave, he was assigned to USS Toucey attached to the US Naval Forces, Europe, and later operating in the Atlantic as a unit of Destroyer Division 25, Squadron 9, Scouting Force. When detached in June, 1928, he attended the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island, for the Junior course, followed by a year at the Naval Postgraduate School, Annapolis, General Line course.
Ordered to duty at sea, he served June to October, 1930 in USS McFarland, transferring to USS Blakeley, both destroyers attached to the Scouting Force, and in the latter he was Engineer Officer after April, 193l, and Executive Officer from April, 1932 to May, 1933. He then served a two year tour at the Naval Academy, Executive Department , and from June, 1935-37, he was attached to USS Maryland, based at San Pedro, California. After a year as Gun nery Officer of USS Chester, first at Pearl Harbor, later at San Pedro, he had temporary duty on the West Coast before reporting for a second tour of duty at the Naval Academy, where he served as an Instructor in the Department of Marine Engineering from July, 1938 to June, 1940.
Ordered to duty in USS Ranger, he served aboard that carrier as Damage Control Office and First Lieutenant from June, 1940. That vessel was later on escort duty in the southeast Atlantic, and on December 8, 1941 when the United States entered the World War, she was at the Naval Operating Base, Norfolk, Virginia. Thereafter until his detachment in November, 1942, the Ranger was flagship of Commander Aircraft ,Atlantic Fleet at naval bases in Bermuda, Argentia, Newfoundland, Trinidad, and the Gold Coast of Africa.
The year December, 1942-43, he was assigned to the carrier escort Pre-commissioning Detail at Kaiser-Vancouver Shipbuilding Corporation, Naval Air Station, Tongue Point, Astoria, Oregon. There after until June, 1944 he attended the Naval War College, Newport Rhode Island, completing the command course. Reporting for duty in the Pacific Fleet, he was attached to the Seventh Fleet as Commander Escort and Minecraft Squadrons, and later was Commander Service Squadron FOUR, Service Force, Seventh Fleet , until December, 1945. He was awarded the Legion of Merit with combat distinguishing device, V, the citation stating:
"For exceptionally meritorious conduct...as Commander Task Units 77.7.l and 77.10.3 and as Commander Service Squadron FOUR, Service Force SEVENTH Fleet, during operations against enemy Japanese forces in the vicinity of the Philippine Islands from October 9, 1944 to August 15, 1945... Despite repeated enemy serial attacks, (he) accomplished the fuel replenishment at sea of the SEVENTH Fleet ships participating in the Leyte and Lingayen invasions of the Philippine Islands. Through his leadership and administrative ability, he created a smoothly working organization which served the Fleet with maximum efficiency throughout the Philippine and Borneo campaigns.. "
He served two months attached to the Naval Fleet Activity, Yokosuka, Japan, followed by an assignment as Assistant Chief Officer at the Naval Operating Base, Guam, Marianas Islands, and from February to April, 1947 he was Chief Staff Officer.
Returning to the West Coast , he had temporary duty in the 12th Naval District, before reporting in September, 1947 for duty as Inspector-Instructor of Naval Reserves at Jersey City , New Jersey, having additional duty as Officer in Charge of Naval Reserve Facilities there until November, 1948. Ordered to the 3rd Naval District New York, New York, he assumed duty as Supervisor of New York Harbor. He was so serving when his retirement became effective on March 1, 1952.
In addition to the Legion of Merit with Combat V, Rear Admiral Beard has the Victory Medal (WWI) ; American Defense Service Medal; American Campaign Medal; European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal; Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal with engagement stars; World War II Victory Medal; Philippine Liberation Ribbon; and Navy Occupation Service Medal, Asia Clasp.