One of three children born to the former vice president and his first wife, Neilia, Beau served in Iraq with the Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps. For his service, he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal.
Beau also had a rising political career, and was elected to two terms as Delaware’s Attorney General in 2006 and 2010. He declined to run for a third term, with an eye on the state’s 2016 gubernatorial election, according to a report from The New York Times. Unfortunately, the cancer that at that point was in remission returned, cutting his life short. He left behind his wife, Hallie Olivere, who he married in 2002, his daughter Natalie, born in 2004, and his son Robert Hunter Biden II, born in 2006.
Beau’s Health Issues Began In 2010
In May 2010, Beau complained of a headache, numbness, and paralysis. He was eventually admitted to Christiana Hospital in Newark, Delaware, where it was revealed that he had suffered from a mild stroke. That same month, he spent several days in observation in Philadelphia’s Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.
Following his release from the hospital, Beau’s health issues subsided for more than three years. Things changed in August 2013, when he suffered what White House officials described as “an episode of disorientation and weakness.” Upon visiting Houston’s University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, he was diagnosed with brain cancer. The lesion was removed, and the cancer was declared stable following radiation and chemotherapy treatments.
The cancer returned in 2015, when he was admitted to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, on May 20. After receiving treatment for more than a week, Beau succumbed to the illness.
At the time, his father released a statement confirming the news.
“It is with broken hearts that Hallie, Hunter, Ashley, Jill and I announce the passing of our husband, brother and son, Beau, after he battled brain cancer with the same integrity, courage and strength he demonstrated every day of his life… In the words of the Biden family: Beau Biden was, quite simply, the finest man any of us have ever known.”
On June 6, his funeral was held at St. Anthony of Padua Roman Catholic Church in Wilmington, Delaware. Attendees of the ceremony included former President Barack Obama, former First Lady Michelle Obama, their daughters Malia and Sasha, former President Bill Clinton, former Secretary of State and former First Lady Hillary Clinton, former U.S. Army Chief of Staff General Ray Odierno, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Coldplay lead singer Chris Martin performed at the service.
Beau was buried at St. Joseph on the Brandywine in Greenville, Delaware.
Beau’s Military Service May Have Played A Role In His Cancer
In 2018, Joe offered his thoughts on the open-air pits used to burn waste at U.S. military installations in Iraq and Afghanistan, means which are thought to release toxins that lead to cases of cancer in military veterans, possibly including Beau.
“Science has recognized there are certain carcinogens when people are exposed to them… Depending on the quantities and the amount in the water and the air, [they] can have a carcinogenic impact on the body.”
The garbage disposal method is used to remove everything from paints, solvents, tires, plastics and Styrofoam to batteries and electronic equipment, often with jet fuel used as an accelerant. The two bases that Beau served at in Iraq — Camp Victory and Balad Air Force Base — used the pits. The former vice president claimed he didn’t know of “any direct scientific evidence” of a connection to his son’s death.
In 2016, Joe was chosen by President Obama to lead the “Cancer Moonshot” initiative, which seeks to make therapies for patients more available and improve the ability to detect cancer in its earliest stages.