HEILIGER, DONALD LESTER
RIP - 03/23/2016
Name: Donald Lester Heiliger
Rank/Branch: O4/United States Air Force, pilot
Unit: 80th TFS
Date of Birth:
Home City of Record: Madison WI
Date of Loss: 15 May 1967
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 212900 North 1063000 East
Status (in 1973): Returnee
Other Personnel in Incident: Ben Pollard, returnee
Source: Compiled by P.O.W. NETWORK from one or more of the following: raw
data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA
families, published sources, interviews. 2016
REMARKS: 730218 RELEASED BY DRV
SOURCE: WE CAME HOME copyright 1977
Captain and Mrs. Frederic A Wyatt (USNR Ret), Barbara Powers Wyatt, Editor
P.O.W. Publications, 10250 Moorpark St., Toluca Lake, CA 91602
Text is reproduced as found in the original publication (including date and
UPDATE - 09/95 by the P.O.W. NETWORK, Skidmore, MO
DONALD L. HEILIGER
Major - United States Air Force
Shot Down: May 15, 1967
Released: February 18, 1973
I graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1958 with a degree in
Accounting, entered the Air Force Force in September of 1958, having been
an Air Force ROTC graduate. During my years in the service, I was a
navigator until 1964. After teaching navigation in Texas and radar bombing
in California, I went to pilot training in 1964, graduating in Class 65F at
Webb AFB, Texas. Then came Nellis Air Force Base, Las Vegas; and Yokota AFB,
Japan. I was serving a TDY tour in Southeast Asia when I was shot down on
May 15, 1967.
On that date Lt. Col. Ben Pollard and I were flying a night low level
bombing run on railroad marshalling yards 30 miles northeast of Hanoi.
Either small arms or light AAA set our plane afire. We ejected safely. I
received minimum rib and leg injuries when my parachute caught in a tree. We
were both taken prisoner separately, but met on the way to Hanoi.
On December 22, 1973 I married Cheryl Edwards. Both of us are working toward
our advanced degrees. I am attending George Washington University in D.C. to
get my Masters Degree in a form of International Affairs called Area
Specialist Studies specializing in Latin America. After that I desire to
work in the defense attache field in the Air Force.
I have three children by a former marriage who are now living in Columbus,
Ohio. Their names are James, Barry Lynn, and Leslie Ann.
PERSONAL MESSAGE: I feel a deep devotion to this country. You can never
truly feel how great this country is until you have missed it. It is the
same feeling - that you cannot experience full joy until you have
experienced full depressions. Our country may take many courses, but it
always seems to come through and always keeps on getting stronger and
greater. The most vital things that pulled me through while I was a POW were
my faith in God, my faith in my country, my faith in our President, and
especially my faith in all the Americans back home. This faith has been
justified. It is the support of all Americans that allowed us to return
home with honor.
Donald Heiliger retired from the United States Air Force as a Colonel. He
and his wife Cheryl reside in Wisconsin.
As many of you know, our beloved husband and father, Don, passed away
yesterday morning into the arms of his loving Savior.
A complete obituary will be in the Wisconsin State Journal on Sunday.
Also, details for the services and visitation can be found at:
Visitation will be at Gunderson Funeral Home, 5203 Monona Drive, Madison,
WI from 4pm-7pm on Sunday, March 27.
Funeral services will be held on Monday, March 28 at Holy Cross Lutheran
Church, 2670 Milwaukee Street, Madison, WI at 11am. A visitation will also
be held before the service starting at 10am.
Burial, with military rites and a missing man formation flyover, will follow
the funeral at Roselawn Memorial Park, 401 Femrite Drive, Monona, WI.
Thank you for all the love and support you have given our family during Don's
illness and hospitalizations. Don was a true patriot who loved and served
God, his country, and his family. Blessed be his memory!
Cheryl, Don Jr, Dan, and Dave
Below is a link to a video taken during the military honors and flyover from Don's funeral
earlier this week. Pallbearers were from the AIR Force ROTC Detachment 913 Flying Badgers
from which Don graduated in 1958. Military honors at the gravesite were presented by active
duty members from Luke Air Force base outside of St Louis. Four F-16 fighter jets flew over
the burial provided by the 176 Fighter Squadron Badger Air Militia, based at Truax Field in
Madison, WI. Dan Doughty, fellow POW, was in attendance as was Tom Slemons, a member
of Don's 65-F Pilot Class.
John Scocos, Secretary, Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs, led the pledge of
allegiance to begin the funeral. The service with six hymns, was a testimony to Don's faith,
sermon based on Mark 10:13-16, which was his favorite Bible passage to recall
in the Hanoi Hilton.
Our family is still in awe of how all the plans came together - the flags in Wisconsin at
half-staff on Monday, the missing man formation flyover, and Governor Walker's presence.
The weather cooperated with blue skies and sun shining.
Heartfelt thanks to everyone who helped with the arrangements, visited Don during his
final days, or sent their condolences/memorials.
We miss him terribly but know he is at peace.
Link to the military honors and flyover: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3D5n=QGeXAdsN0
Cheryl Heiliger & Family