More detail on this person: Robert J. (Bob) Heisterman attended flight training with Flight Class 65-7. He flew gunships in Vietnam as a Crocodile with the 119th Aviation Company (AML), 52nd Combat Aviation Battalion, in 1965-1966. His second tour was with the 4/77 ARA and D/101st Aviation Battalion (Hawk 3), both in the 101st Airborne Division, in 1968-69. Bob was born on December 13, 1941, and left this world from San Antonio, Texas, on June 7, 2017, after a long illness. Bob was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant of Field Artillery through ROTC in Florida, and eventually retired as a major, with the Legion of Merit among his decorations. Before his illness, Bob lived In Port Aransas, Texas, with his wife, Karen. During his retirement years, Heisterman sought out and induced a number of his former comrades to join the VHPA, especially during the nineties when many of those he contacted had not heard of the organization. During his first tour at Camp Holloway, Bob was shot down in a UH-1B gunship, along with fellow VHPA member Ron Richtsmeier, on July 28, 1966. They went down just before dark in 200 feet of triple-canopy jungle near Dak To, and other ships could not locate them before darkness fell. All four crew members were injured, and Heisterman was pinned in the wreckage. He was pinned on his side in the left pilot's seat, partly on the jungle floor, with the Huey on its left side on top of him. Richtsmeier and gunner SSG Reed, the only crew members able to walk, went for help, because they knew they could not be seen from the air. The two lucked into a small, 40-foot clearing in the darkness, just as a rescue helicopter swept it with his searchlight, and they were picked up. Unfortunately, a rescue effort for Heisterman and the crew chief could not be mounted until first light. All night, Heisterman and his crew chief listened in fear to NVA soldiers searching for them in the darkness. Bob was afraid the other badly injured crewman's groans would be heard by the searchers. The Americans even heard dogs employed by the enemy soldiers in their search, but the wrecked helicopter was not found. At first light, U. S. infantry soldiers, guided by Richtsmeier's directions and those of Ken Christensen, their wingman when they went down, rappelled down on ropes from a Chinook and effected rescue of the other two crewmembers. All four eventually recovered from their injuries, although Bob spent about nine months in hospitals. Bob owned several antique Model T fire engines, and loved to drive and show them off in parades. He also loved piloting the small boat he owned. Robert Heisterman is survived by his wife, Karen, two sons, and one daughter. His oldest son is Robert C. Heisterman of Tucson, AZ who has three children of his own. His youngest son is Matthew L. Heisterman of Austin, TX who had two children. His only daughter is Jennifer Livingston of Kansas City, MO who has four children. He is to be interred in Arlington National Cemetery.
Burial information: Creminated will be in Arlington
This information was last updated 01/10/2018
Please send additions or corrections to: HQ@vhpa.org VHPA Headquarters
Return to the Helicopter Pilot DAT name list
Return to VHPA web site
Date posted on this site: 09/19/2018
Copyright © 1998 - 2018 Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association