Cliff Bekkedahl was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. He graduated from Miami University in 1953. A member of the NROTC, he received a reserve commission as Ensign USNR and was called to active duty upon graduation. His first duty assignment was aboard the USS Arneb where he became the ship’s Navigator.
In the second year of this assignment, the Arneb was designated as flagship for Operation Deepfreeze. This experience had a lasting influence on Bekkedahl’s career choice and ultimately led to his involvement with the American Polar Society and The Polar Times.
Following Operation Deepfreeze I, Bekkedahl received a regular Navy Commission and became a Surface Line Officer serving primarily in the Destroyer forces. He enjoyed three ship commands and command of a destroyer squadron home-ported in Japan. His shore duty assignments were varied and included tours on the Chief of Naval Operations staff in Plans and Policy, Politico-military affairs and Senior Aide and Executive Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of the Navy. He served also as Executive Assistant and Senior Aide to the Superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy. He is a graduate of the National War College.
Cliff Bekkedahl retired in the rank of Captain in 1979 and became a senior executive of a petrochemical engineering and construction company in Bloomfield, New Jersey. Subsequently he became a principal in a human resources consulting organization and functioned in this field until his final retirement in 1998.
He and his wife Vicki celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in June of 2007. They have four married daughters and eight grandchildren, all of whom reside in the greater New York metropolitan area.