Honoring the Life of Colonel Owen A. Heeter of Rochester, Indiana
Mr. DONNELLY. Madam Speaker, today I rise to honor the life of COL Owen A. Heeter, who faithfully served our country in the United States Air Force for 30 years. Colonel Heeter passed away on February 17, 2007.
Colonel Heeter was born in Athens, Indiana in 1936. He graduated from Rochester High School in 1954 as an accomplished athlete and went on to attend DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana. At DePauw, Colonel Heeter played baseball and was a member of Phi Gamma Delta Fraternity. However, it was his experiences in the Reserve Officers Training Corps that led him to a career dedicated to serving our country.
After graduation in 1958, Colonel Heeter joined the United States Air Force, becoming one of our country's most successful pilots. He was stationed at various bases within the United States and overseas, including Spain, Thailand, and Panama. Some of his most notable accomplishments include becoming the first pilot to fly an HH-53 helicopter across the Pacific Ocean, flying rescue missions over Vietnam, and recovering bodies from the mass suicide in Jonestown, Guyana.
Colonel Heeter received numerous awards in recognition of his outstanding service during his tours of duty. Included in these are the Bronze Star, the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal with Four Oak Leaf Clusters, the Air Medal with Four Oak Leaf Clusters, and the Air Force Commendation Medal.
After retiring from the Air Force, Colonel Heeter was a member of the international sales department at Bell Helicopter in Fort Worth, Texas. After retiring 10 years later, he returned to Rochester, Indiana, eventually marrying his high school sweetheart. In the last decade of his life, Colonel Heeter was an active member of Grace United Methodist Church, the Kiwanis Club, the LeRoy Shelton American Legion Post #36, and many other organizations. He enjoyed working on his golf game and spending time with his grandchildren.
Colonel Heeter represented the best that this country has to offer. His selfless dedication to the United States, to his community and to his family will always be remembered. It is with great pride that I celebrate the life and service of COL Owen A. Heeter.