John Kingsman Beling was born in New York, New York, on October 29, 1919, son of Aelian Arnold and Mable Ashe (Jackson) Beling. He graduated from Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken, New Jersey, with a degree in Mechanical Engineering in June 1941. Commissioned Ensign, USNR, on June 6, 1941, he reported for instruction at the Naval Training School (Aircraft Engines) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in Cambridge. After three months’ instruction, he remained there as an Instructor in Aircraft Engines. In December 1941 he was assigned duty in the Power Plant Design Section, Bureau of Aeronautics, Navy Department, Washington, DC. On April 22, 1942, he resigned his commission to enter flight training. Enlisting in the US Naval Reserve, he continued on active duty, and was appointed Aviation Cadet, USNR, on July 23, 1942. Designated Naval Aviator and again commissioned Ensign, USNR on January 8, 1943, he subsequently advanced in rank, to that of Rear Admiral, to date from August 1, 1968, having transferred from the Reserve to Regular Navy on August 27, 1946.
After receiving his “Wings” in 1943, he had further training at the Naval Air Station, Miami and Dayton Beach, Florida, and during May and June 1943 was assigned to Bombing Squadron EIGHT. In July 1943 he joined Bombing Squadron ONE, and was awarded the Air Medal with two Gold Stars, and the Distinguished Flying Cross. The Air Medals were awarded for completing fifteen missions against enemy Japanese forces, during the period June 12, to July 20, 1944. The citation for Distinguished Flying Cross follows:
“For heroism and extraordinary achievement in aerial flight as Pilot of a carrier-based Dive Bombing Plane, during operations against enemy Japanese forces in the vicinity of the Bonin Islands, July 4, 1944. Assigned to the dangerous mission of attacking enemy shipping, (he) deliberately dove to a minimum altitude through an intense screen of antiaircraft fire and scored a direct hit, causing an explosion which demolished the enemy ship…”
He is also entitled to the Ribbon for and a facsimile of the Presidential Unit Citation awarded USS Yorktown, on which Bombing Squadron ONE was based.
Detached from that squadron in July 1944, and after a period of hospitalization, he reported in January 1945 for instruction at the Naval Air Station, Melbourne, Florida. During the period May 1945 to June 1946, he served with Bomber Fighter Squadron FIVE, and until January 1947 attended the Postgraduate School, Annapolis, Maryland. He had two months’ instruction in the Office of Naval Research, Navy Department, Washington, DC, then continued training at the Naval Training Center, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was awarded the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Physics in May 1951.
Assigned to the Office of Naval Research, Washington, DC in May 1951, he transferred to the London (England) Branch Office in June of that year, and served as Scientific Liaison Officer until August 1953. He next was Research Assistant, University of California Radiation Laboratory, Livermore, California, where he remained until June 1956.
Following two months’ instruction at the Naval Air Station, Olathe, Kansas, he was assigned in August 1956 at Project and Operations Officer, Air Development Squadron FIVE. Attached to Attack Squadron FORTY FOUR as a replacement Pilot/Prospective Commanding Officer of Attack Squadron SEVENTY-TWO, from September 1959, he assumed command of the latter squadron in January 1959. In March 1960 he transferred to command of Attack Squadron FORTY-THREE.
A student at the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island, from August 1960 until June 1961, he next served as Operations Officer on board USS Intrepid (CVS-11). In May 1962 he became Head of the Technical Branch, Atomic Energy Division, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Navy Department, and in March 1964 assumed command of USS Alstede (AF-48). In May 1965 he joined the Staff of Commander Naval Air Force, Atlantic Fleet, as Training Officer and in May 1966 reported as Commanding Officer of USS Forrestal (CVA-59). He reported in October 1967 as Director of Air, Surface and Electronics Warfare Division, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations and “for exceptionally meritorious service…from October 1967 to September 1970…” was awarded the Legion of Merit. The citation further states in part:
“…Rear Admiral Beling provided direct and personal guidance and direction to a board spectrum of the Navy’s most important air and surface tactical warfare research and development programs achieving an optimum balance in support of operational requirements… (He) achieved significant advances in the most important area of international cooperative research and development effort, particularly in bilateral agreements with France, the Federal Republic of Germany and the Netherlands, and served with distinction as the United States representative to the NATO Naval Armaments Group…”
From October 1970 to May 1973 he was Commander Iceland Defense Force with additional duty as Commander Fleet Air, Keflavik. He was awarded a Gold Star in lieu of the Second Legion of Merit, and cited in part as follows: “For exceptionally meritorious conduct…as Commander Iceland Defense Force, as Commander Fleet Air, Keflavik and as Commander Iceland Antisubmarine Warfare Group…Under Rear Admiral Beling’s capable leadership, new techniques and concept were developed which materially increased the capabilities of assigned forces…” After a brief assignment in Naval District, Washington, DC, he was transferred to the Retired List of the US Navy on July 1, 1973.
In addition to the Legion of Merit with Gold Star, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with two Gold Stars and the Residential Unit Citation Ribbon, Rear Admiral Beling has the Purple Heart Medal (for wounds received in action); American Defense Service Medal, Fleet, Fleet Clasp: American Campaign Medal; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal; World War II Victory Medal; National Defense Service Medal with bronze star; and the Vietnam Service Medal with one star.