A life of service: Beed reflects on distinguished military career, McAlester roots

Donna Beed

Donna Beed has lived a life of community and military service.

The 1983 McAlester High School graduate completed her military career as chief information officer at Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu and retired in June after more than 28 years of decorated military service.

Beed said she plans to retire to San Antonio and reconnect with family and friends — but she wants to continue serving the community by volunteering with Meals on Wheels, Big Brothers and Sisters and more.

“I believe if you live in a community, you should give back to that community,” Beed said. “You should do something to enhance that community and help the community.”

Her mother, Myrtle, may have inspired that community servant mentality as Beed grew up in McAlester.

Beed called her mother “the ultimate volunteer,” as she was involved with March of Dimes, Salvation Army, American Legion, the PTA and other organizations.

“I always admired how she always got out in the community and became a part of the community,” Beed said.

Beed played sports and was a longtime member at the Girls Club in McAlester, saying basketball and track were “always her life” while growing up.

She was a member of McAlester High School’s 1983 Class 4A state championship girls basketball team and earned honors on all-area and all-state teams, in addition to being named the McAlester News-Capital’s 1983 Player of the Year.

Beed also won more than 100 medals in track, including the 1982 Class 4A state championship in the 100-meter hurdles, on her way to being named to the all-state track and field team. She was inducted into the McAlester High School Athletics Hall of Fame in 2017 in honor of her athletic accomplishments.

“I always enjoyed athletics and the people because in my mind, it was like a little club,” Beed said. “A lot of us still keep in touch and I’m not a Facebook person, but when I come to town I tend to run into a lot of those folks and we still keep in touch with texts.”

Beed went on to attend Southwestern University, where she was a member of the 1985 NAIA Division I championship women’s basketball team with a 34-0 record.

She graduated from Cameron University in Lawton, Oklahoma, with bachelor’s degrees in business administration and automated information systems before earning a master’s degree in human relations from the University of Oklahoma.

After graduating from Cameron University, Beed was told she didn’t have enough experience after interviewing for a job at Texas Instruments in Odessa. She later saw a commercial for the Army that sparked some inspiration.

“The next day I went to an ROTC office and talked to them about the program and signed a contract that day to be an Army officer,” Beed said.

She was commissioned in the United States Army on July 24, 1990 and began her military career as chief of the information center at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, D.C. While at the medical center, Beed also held the positions chief of administrative services division and TEMPO project office.

Beed held several leadership positions in her military career, serving in Texas, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Hawaii, Korea, and Iraq. She also received several awards, including the Bronze Star Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and the Legion of Merit.

The Legion of Merit is awarded to military service members who demonstrate exceptionally meritorious conduct and is one of two U.S. military decorations issued as a neck order.

Beed said she felt honored with every award, but the Legion of Merit stood out to her.

“I was really surprised and honored when I was awarded the Legion of Merit,” Beed said.

While at Hawaaii, Beed helped Tripler Army Medical Center install a guest wifi system for the massive hospital. Tripler averaged more than 2,000 patients per day during World War II and received a 430,000 expansion in 1986.

Beed said she didn’t have a favorite assignment until being assigned to Hawaii.

“Hawaii definitely became my favorite assignment just because of the beauty of Hawaii, the people and things of that nature,” Beed said.

But she also had memorable experiences in Iraq.

Despite the alarming conditions in the country, she formed lifelong friendships with fellow soldiers there.

“Although it was stressful, very scary, very trying and things of that nature, it was also a time in the Army when we were all bonded and so close,” Beed said.

Contact Adrian O’Hanlon III at aohanlon@mcalesternews.com

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