Sgt Michael J. Beckerman—December 2011 Shipment Honoree
IED Device kills Fort Campbell Soldier
Sgt. Michael J. Beckerman, 25, of Sainte Genevieve, MO, was a combat engineer assigned to A Company, 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault).
Beckerman joined the Army in September 2004 and arrived at Fort Campbell in January, 2010.
Beckerman’s awards and decorations include: Army Commendation Medal; Army Achievement Medal; Army Good Conduct Medal; National Defense Service Medal; Iraqi Campaign Medal; Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon; Army Service Ribbon; Armed Forces Reserve Medal, and the Combat Action Badge.
He is survived by his wife, Spec. Margaretta A. Beckerman and daughter, Brianna J. Beckerman, of Clarksville, TN; and parents, Lisa Beckerman and Steve Beckerman, also of Sainte Genevieve, MO.
Facebook Military Wall of Honor
Sgt Michael J Beckerman, 25 of Ste Genevieve, Mo. was killed on New Year’s Eve in Afghanistan. “He wanted to work with explosives, disarming them,” His Grandmother Karen Downen said. “He loved what he did and was very good at what he did.” She said she was told Michael lost his life protecting his troops in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province. “He went up to the IED first, and someone detonated it from a hill.”
Michael was born Michael J Downen to parents David Joe Downen and Lisa Downen. His father passed away from a aneurysm at the age of 26. When his mother remarried she changed Michael’s name to Beckerman. His grandparents Harold and Karen Downen lost him once and were reunited when Michael was 13 years old. At the age of 15 he moved in with his grandparents and Karen said it was like seeing his father again.
He brought much joy and comfort to his grandparents and his grandmother said that Michael was a comforter. “Whenever I would worry, Michael would take me in his arms and tell me everything was going to be OK.”
Michael had his heart set on a military career. He enlisted in 2004. He married Margaretta “Maggie” Gillis a fellow soldier. The two transferred to Fort Campbell and the 101st Airborne to be closer to Michael’s daughter Brianna now three years old.
Michael and Maggie served in Afghanistan together. They had hoped to come home for December.
Michael was on his fourth tour of duty and was assigned to the 2nd Brigade Support Troop Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). During his period of active duty service he completed tours in both Afghanistan and Iraq.
Beckerman, an explosives ordinance disposal specialist, was a decorated soldier, His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal (2 awards), Army Achievement Medal (2 awards), Army Good Conduct Medal (2 awards), National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Bronze Service Star, Iraq Campaign Medal with Bronze Service Star (2 awards), Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal with M Device, Non commissioned Officers Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, NATO Medal, Combat Action Badge, Combat and Special Skill Badge Basic Marksmanship Qualification Badge (Bar, Weapon: Rifle (Inscription: Rifle), Expert), and the Overseas Service Bar (5 awards).
His body was transported to Dover Air Force Base last Sunday. His wife came home on the same transport. Vets in his hometown are calling on the local community to honor Michael when he is brought home.
“When he returns from Dover, we’re hoping to have people lining the streets with flags, with veterans in their military attire, to honor Mike,” Pete Papin, an active member of veterans organizations there said. “We’d like to see a really big turnout to honor this young man, whose death is a tragic loss for his family, friends and the community.”
Michael is survived by his wife, Spc. Margaretta A. Beckerman, and daughter, Brianna J. Beckerman, of Clarksville; and parents, Lisa Beckerman and Steve Beckerman, also of Ste. Genevieve and his grandparents Harold and Karen Downen.
Sgt. Michael Beckerman’s flight will arrive at the Cape Girardeau airport on Saturday, January 8 at 11:46am.
Visitation will be held Sunday, January 9 from 2:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. at Basler Funeral Home.
Chapel Service will be held Monday, January 10 at 10:00 a.m. at Basler Funeral Home.
Sgt Michael Beckerman, we honor your memory and we mourn your passing from us. We are so very thankful for men like you, men ready and willing to stand in the gap on our behalf, men that secure the freedom and safety required so that we might live and raise our families in peace. We lift up your family in our prayers and we pray for God to grant them peace and comfort, and we ask that He would walk closely with your wife and your little girl throughout their lives, that he would keep them safe and provide for their needs. Rest easy now Michael, you will not be forgotten. Thank you so very much for all that you have given up for us. Posted by Donna with the utmost respect and love.
Family mourns loss of grandson
The military announcement that Sgt. Michael J. Beckerman, 25, of Ste. Genevieve, Mo., was killed on New Year’s Eve in Af-ghanistan held a terrible irony for Karen and Harold Downen of Royalton.
Beckerman was their grandson. And they’d already lost him once, only to be reunited with him when he was just 13. Not long afterward, Beckerman moved to Royalton to live with his grandparents and remained in Southern Illinois until he enlisted in the military.
Michael was born Michael J. Downen in Carbondale. His dad, David Joe Downen, was Karen and Harold’s middle son. David and his wife, Lisa, lived with the Downens for a while both before and after the baby was born, Karen said. David Downen died of an aneurysm at age 26, when Michael was just 3. They were then living in Ste. Genevieve, Lisa’s hometown.
When Lisa remarried, she changed Michael’s name to her new husband’s name, Beckerman. And they lost contact with the Downens. Michael had no memory of his father or his grandparents, Karen said. “We thought we would never find him.”
When Michael turned 13, “Lisa contacted us and asked if we’d like to see him,” Karen said. “She brought him to meet us, and it was just like seeing his father again.”
She recalled Michael as an awkward teen who had just gotten braces. She told him he was handsome even with the braces, and showed him photos of his father, and of himself as an infant. “The whole family was there,” she said.
Though Michael and his mother loved each other, they had difficulty living together, Karen said. At 15, Michael came to Royalton to live with his grandparents and seemed to thrive in their household.
Before arriving around Christmas, Michael had told Karen he’d never had a Christmas tree at his house. “So I went all out,” she said with a laugh, remembering the huge tree, stockings and other hodgepodge of decorations the family filled the house with, just for Michael. “They decorated the whole house, even the fence.”
And having found a family where he was comfortable, he became a comforter as well, Karen said. “Whenever I would worry, Michael would take me in his arms and tell me everything was going to be OK.”
Karen’s other two sons, Troy Downen of Royalton and Robert Downen of Zeigler, both have long military service; both just returned from Afghanistan about a year ago, she said.
Michael had his heart set on a military career. He enlisted in 2004. “He wanted to work with explosives, disarming them,” Karen said. “He loved what he did and was very good at what he did.” Michael married and became a father, but his wife didn’t want to be an Army wife and they divorced. Michael later married Margaretta “Maggie” Gillis, a fellow soldier. The two put in for a transfer to Fort Campbell and the 101st Airborne to be closer to Michael’s daughter, Brianna, even though they knew the move increased their odds of being deployed.
Michael and Maggie were serving in Afghanistan together. They had hoped to come home in December, but decided to stay in the Mideast over the holidays.
Karen said she was told Michael lost his life protecting his troops in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province. “He went up to the IED first, and someone detonated it from a hill.”
It’s likely he will be awarded the Purple Heart posthumously. He also has been awarded the Army Commendation Medal; Army Achievement Medal; Army Good Conduct Medal; Iraqi Campaign Medal; Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; Combat Action Badge and many other awards.
And now Brianna, just 3, has lost her loving father, Karen said. The child lives in Missouri with her mother. During visits, she won the hearts of Karen, who is an invalid after retiring as an Amtrak employee in Carbondale for 32 years, and Harold, who has Alzheimer’s disease.
“I wonder if we will ever see her again,” Karen said of her great-grandchild. If so, she will share memories of Brianna’s father, who died serving his country.