LTC Charles "Neal" Neal Heape was a VHPA member who died after his tour in Vietnam on 08/11/2016 at the age of 70.7
Sullivan, IN
Flight Class 67-15
Date of Birth 11/17/1945
Served in the U.S. Army
Served in Vietnam with A/227 AVN 1 CAV in 67-68
This information was provided by Jess Findley

More detail on this person: Lieutenant Colonel C. Neal Heape, DDS, 70, of Sullivan, Indiana, beloved husband and best friend of Ruth (Unger) Heape for 48 years, passed away peacefully surrounded by the ones he laughed with, lived for, and loved on August 11, 2016. He was predeceased by his parents Lester and Frieda Heape, his brother Norman Heape, and his sister Jean (Heape) Daugherty.

Neal was born in DuQuoin, Illinois on November 17th, 1945. His family moved to Sullivan, Indiana where graduated from Sullivan High School in 1963 and lived most of his life. He attended Indiana State University from 1963 to 1966. In October of 1966 he enlisted in the U.S. Army. He attended basic training at Ft Polk, Louisiana, followed by primary helicopter training and Warrant Officer Candidate School at Ft Wolters, Texas. He received advanced helicopter training at Ft Rucker, Alabama, where he was awarded the wings of an Army Helicopter Aviator. His first assignment as an aviator was with the A Company, 227th Aviation Battalion, Assault Helicopters, in the 1st Air Cavalry Division in Vietnam. His duties there included Aircraft Commander, Instructor Pilot, and Fire Team Leader. During this combat tour, Dr. Heape was promoted to Chief Warrant Officer. He logged well over 1000 combat hours as an assault helicopter pilot in support of 1st Cavalry operations in Operation Byrd in Phan Thiet; Operation Pershing in Bong Son and Landing Zone English as well as the Tet 1968 Counter Offensive at Hue and Phu Bai. He participated in relieving the siege at Khe Sahn during Operation Pegasus and in the A Shau Valley in Operation Delaware. During this tour, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for Heroism, the Bronze Star for Meritorious Service and 36 Air Medals with two awarded with the V Device for Valor. Upon returning to the United States in 1968, and while serving as a Crash Rescue/Training Officer, Neal enrolled as a pre-dental student at IUPUI. He also joined the Indiana Army National Guard where he continued to serve his nation and state as a helicopter pilot for the next twenty years, participating in numerous disaster relief efforts. During this time, he obtained his BA from IUPUI in 1973, and his DDS in 1977 from the I.U. School of Dentistry. After achieving several awards and accumulating over 3500 accident free hours, he transferred to the Indiana Air National Guard in 1991, where served as a Dental Officer. He was subsequently promoted to Base Dental Surgeon where he was responsible for monitoring the dental health and readiness of over 1200 members of the 181st fighter Wing, Terre Haute, IN. As a member of the 181st Medical Squadron, Dr. Heape was a member of "Care Force" a joint civilian/military effort to provide free immunizations, vision and dental screening exams for medically underserved populations in five Indiana counties.

In his nearly forty years as a family practice dentist, Dr. Heape managed to balance the responsibilities of husband, father, dentist, citizen soldier, and community leader. His community involvement varied from elementary "room father", Little League coach of ten years, Elks Exalted Ruler, numerous veteran and civic organizations, counselor for the Boy Scouts "Dental Merit Badge", host for several pre-school and Head Start dental office visits, supervisory dentist for an IUSD Hygiene sealant program at Carlisle Elementary School and along with fellow Sullivan dentists provided free dental screening exams at the county Senior Centers. He held leadership positions as President of the City Park Board, President of the Sullivan Planning Commission, and President of the Sullivan City Council. Dr. Heape's educational efforts and leadership abilities succeeded in passing a resolution to fluoridate the water supply for the City of Sullivan and surrounding area, making it possible for an additional 7,000 plus Indiana residents to enjoy the benefits of better dental health. Dr. Heape was then elected Mayor of Sullivan in November 1999 and also served two terms on the Indiana State Dental Board; continuing to be of service to his community.

In December of 2015, Neal was awarded the Sagamore of the Wabash, the highest award given by the Governor, in recognition of his service to State and Country. Neal loved the beach and spent many wonderful vacations there with his wife and family. He was a beloved grandfather and "Pawpaw", his grandchildren bringing him tremendous pride and joy. He also loved attending the Indianapolis 500, a tradition he passed onto his kids and grandkids, and rooting for his Indiana Hoosiers.

Besides his wife Ruth, Neal is survived by his two sons Aaron Heape (Michelle) of Pelham, Alabama, and Ryan Heape (Laura) of Indianapolis and his daughter Angie Brocksmith (Baron) of Sullivan; his grandchildren, Isabella, Walker, Olivia, Aidan, Weston and Katherine; his sister Midge (Heape) Graeff of Murphysboro, IL as well as numerous nieces, nephews and other relatives and friends.

The family would like to express their sincere gratitude to the doctors and nurses at Sullivan County Community Hospital. Their dedication and effort to provide quality care were a heartwarming blessing to the entire family. We thank God for the gift of his life and the blessing of the time we spent with him.

Services for Neal will be at 11:00 a.m. on Monday, August 15, 2016 at Holmes Memorial Chapel, 642 West Silver Street, Sullivan. Reverend David Cox officiating. Visitation will be on Sunday from 2-6:00 p.m. Military services will be given by the Hymera, Shelburn, Sullivan American Legion's and the Sullivan VFW post. Burial will be in Center Ridge Cemetery.

This information was last updated 08/14/2016

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Date posted on this site: 07/05/2021

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