COL Owen A. Heeter was a potential VHPA member who died after his tour in Vietnam on 02/17/2007 at the age of 71.1 from Alzheimers
Hurlburt Field, FL
Date of Birth 01/03/1936
Served in the U.S. Air Force
This information was provided by SSN search 090108

More detail on this person: Col. Owen "Al" Heeter ROCHESTER -- Col. Owen "Al" Heeter, USAF retired, 71, of 1458 Park Road, Rochester, passed away at 8:30 PM Saturday, February 17, 2007, in Life Care Center of Rochester, surrounded by the loving and dedicated members of his family. Col. Heeter was born January 3, 1936, in Athens, Indiana, as the son of Darwin and Edythe Clevenger Heeter. During his youth, he was raised in the Akron area and he attended school at Akron for 10 years before graduating from Rochester High School in 1954. Al was a member of the RHS 1953 Indiana State Champion football team. He also was a standout on the 1952-1954 RHS baseball team. Al was an employee of the McMahan Construction Company during his high school years. While at McMahan's, he served under the wing of his mentor, the late Ed Boswell. Upon graduation from RHS, he attended DePauw University, Greencastle, Indiana, where he was a member of the graduating class of 1958. While at DePauw, Al lettered in baseball, was an active member of the ROTC and Phi Gamma Delta Fraternity. It was through the ROTC at DePauw that he discovered his love for flying. On July 13, 1957, in Jackson, MS, he married Mary Elizabeth Turk, who preceded him in death on December 1, 1996. Upon his graduation from DePauw, Al entered the United State Air Force where he spent the next 30 years of his life serving our country. During his many years of service, Col. Heeter was stationed in the following locations: Selfridge Air Force Base, Michigan; Richards Gebaur Air Force Base, Missouri; Moron Air Base, Spain; Moody Air Force Base, Georgia; Udorn Air Base, Thailand; Scott Air Force Base, Illinois; Norton Air Force Base, California; Bergstrom Air Force Base, Texas; Howard Air Force Base, Panama; Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico; Eglin Air Force Base, Florida; and Hurlburt Field, Florida. During his tours of duty, Col. Heeter received many citations including the Silver Star (the second highest military decoration that can be awarded to a member of the armed forces); Legion of Merit (awarded for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services and achievement); Distinguished Flying Cross (awarded to those who distinguish themselves in combat by heroism while in aerial flight); Bronze Star (award for bravery); Defense Meritorious Service Medal (awarded for outstanding Non-Combat Meritorious Achievement or service); Meritorious Service Medal with Four Oak Leaf Clusters (third highest award bestowed by the military; additional awards are denoted by the Oak Leaf Clusters); Air Medal with Four Oak Leaf Clusters (awarded for distinguished merit while in aerial flight); and the Air Force Commendation Medal (awarded for acts of courage). Of his many accomplishments, Col. Heeter was a distinguished command helicopter pilot with over 5,000 career flying hours; many of them were from rescue missions flown over Vietnam. He also served as deputy commander of the Panama Canal from 1976-1978. Col. Heeter was the first pilot to fly an HH-53 helicopter across the Pacific Ocean, traveling over 9,000 miles. He served as Air Rescue and Recovery Service Commander from 1983-1985. His most notable experience was in November 1978. It was then he was assigned the gruesome task of recovering the bodies of a mass suicide in Jonestown, Guyana. In all, 913 bodies were recovered, including that of the cult's leader, Jim Jones. Upon retirement from the military, "Al" was employed for 10 years at Bell Helicopter where he was a member of the company's International Sales Department, Fort Worth, Texas. Following his retirement from Bell Helicopter, he returned to his hometown of Rochester where he was reunited with his high school sweetheart, Carolyn "Ginger" (Castleman-Hunter). They were married in Rochester on December 27, 1997. His memberships include: Grace United Methodist Church, Kiwanis Club, Elks Lodge #2120, LeRoy Shelton American Legion Post #36, all of Rochester, DePaul Alumni, Phi Gamma Delta, Jolly Green Assoc., USAF Helicopter Pilots Assoc., AFA Retired, and the Order of Daedalians. He was an avid golfer and, in his later years, he loved spending time with his grandchildren. Surviving along with his wife, Carolyn "Ginger" Heeter at home, are two daughters, Kimberly Huffman and husband, Robert, Germany, and Kathy Sanchez and husband, Maurice, Louisville, Ky.; a son, Jeffrey Dean Hunter and wife, Kim, Rochester; and two grandchildren, Raeann and Caleb Hunter, Rochester; a brother, Charles "Chuck" Heeter, Rochester; and two sisters, Mary Gene Groves of Logansport and Joan Atkinson of Rochester. He was preceded in death by his parents; a son, Owen A Heeter Jr.; a brother, Darwin "Bud" Heeter; and three sisters, Margery Ellis, Lenora Sayger and Lucy Lane. Services for Col. Owen "Al" Heeter will be conducted at 11:00 AM Saturday, February 24, 2007, in Good Funeral Home, Rochester, with the Rev. Rick Taylor and Rev. George Hapner officiating. Friends may visit with the family from 4 to 8 PM on Friday or on Saturday one hour prior to his services. Following his services, The Leroy Shelton American Legion Post and the Lake Manitou Veterans of Foreign Wars will conduct military rites at the funeral home. Interment with full military honors will be at the Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA, on March 26, 2007, at 11:00 AM. Memorials may be made in his memory to the Fulton County Cancer Society or to the Alzheimer's Foundation.

Burial information: Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA

This information was last updated 09/04/2018

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Date posted on this site: 08/08/2020

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