America lost its first Navy SEAL Tuesday morning. Harry Beal died at 90 years old.
The Greenville Township resident was the first SEAL to be appointed by President John F. Kennedy in 1962.
His son, Mack, remembered Beal as a true hero.
"In my opinion they were real superheroes," he said of military personnel he saw as a child on base. "Most kids go to the comic book store to see superheroes. I just walked out on base."
The younger Beal said that his father always respected his oath to keep classified information a secret, up until his final days.
"I was on him year after year to try to get some interesting stories out of him," he said. "He said 'I swore an oath.' Nothing that you could really put out for public. Everything was classified for him. He wasn't giving anything up even in his 90s."
Robert Sembower, of Somerset who coordinates admissions at the United States Military Academy at West Point, said that although he's never met Beal he's read about him. Sembower said that America lost a patriot.
"I'm sure he's been an inspiration to many, many Somerset County young men who either entered the Navy or went into the SEAL program," he said. "He's a patriot. He's of the greatest generation.
"This man proved what human effort can overcome, for sure."
State Rep. Carl Walker Metzgar of Somerset Township called Beal a pioneer. Metzgar remembered a time with a laugh when Beal asked him to move his vehicle.
"He was a true hero, and it was an honor to know him," he said. "It's going to be a lesser world without him."
Metzgar added that Beal served a distinguished career and is someone that "our entire area can be proud of."
Last year a Meyersdale bridge was named in honor of Beal.
He and his wife, Marjorie, who were married for 67 years, had four children, four grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
Mack Beal said that Tuesday's inclement weather was a fitting send off to his father. He said his father often said that when people retreat from storms to seek warmth and comfort that's when he'd go to work.
He said that his father was strong up until two years ago when Marjorie died.
"That was his main driving force," he said. "I think he wanted to get back to mom."
This article is written by Joe Mason from Erie Times-News, Pa. and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the Industry Dive publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.