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Robert E Heichel

Military

Robert Heichel attended the Windber High School during four years (his description in the Class of 1942 Yearbook : “He hath a stern look, but a merry heart.”) Before his enlistment in the Air Corps in 1942, he helped to build B-24 Liberators at the Ford Motor Company's Willow Run, Michigan plant. He trained at the San Antonio Aviation Cadet Center, Texas and is pictured as a Flight cadet in "The Mister", yearbook of the 44F class of the 304th Army Air Force Flying Training Detachment at Coleman, Texas. Sent overseas after training, he was assigned as a Pilot in the 491st Bomb Group / 854th Bomb Squadron in England. He was Pilot of B-24 "Belle Ringer" # 42-51195 when he managed to crash-land it in Belgium on return from the 14 March 1945 mission to bomb the marshalling yards at Gütersloh, Germany. Knocked unconscious by the crash, Robert woke up in a Belgian hospital and was later repatriated to the USA. He was discharged on 19 September 1945 from the Fort Indiantown Gap Military Reservation Service Center, Pennsylvania. On 28 December 1947, Robert Heicher and his Windber friends Aaron J. Bigan, 17 and James R. Morey, 18, took off in a early model Beechcraft Bonanza (V-tail variant) from a Johnstown, PA airport on a vacation trip after Christmas, intending to fly to Washington and from there to Miami, Florida. Unfortunately, shortly after take-off, an explosion was heard by a farmer, followed by a crash. A local coroner stated that the bodies of the three men and wreckage of the plane were scattered over a wide area and that the aircraft had exploded in the air.
Robert Heichel’s nephew Jay, himself a pilot, has a website dedicated to his Uncle Robert at http://www.inexpensiveflighttraining.com/apps/photos/album?albumid=8801344

Service

People

  • Thomas Alexander

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Co-Pilot | 491st Bomb Group
    Thomas Alexander’s older brother, Marston Alexander Jr, born in 1917, died in October 1929. Thomas enlisted in the Air Corps and was trained as a pilot. Sent overseas, he was assigned to the 491st Bomb Group / 854th Bomb Squadron in England. He was on...

  • Rheudolph Cain

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Gunner | 491st Bomb Group
    Rheudolph Cain was the youngest of Anna S. Cain's three sons (the others : Walter and Hubert). He enlisted at the end of 1943 in the Air Corps after two years at Parkersburgh High School in West Virginia. Trained as a gunner, he was sent overseas and...

  • Seymour Eisenstat

    Military | Flight Officer | Navigator | 491st Bomb Group
    Seymour Eisenstat grew up in Brooklyn and attended Brooklyn Technical High School before entering the service in 1943. He followed initial training at a mechanics school in Biloxi, Mississippi then, having had an opportunity to be an Aviation Cadet, he...

  • Lacy Gilliam

    Military | Sergeant | Gunner | 491st Bomb Group
    Enlisting in the Air Corps in August 1943, Lacy Gilliam trained as a gunner and was sent overseas and assigned to the 491st Bomb Group / 854th Bomb Squadron in England. He was on board B-24 "Belle Ringer" # 42-51195 when it crash-landed in Belgium on...

  • Kenneth Kingsland

    Military | Sergeant | Flight Engineer / Top Turret Gunner | 491st Bomb Group
    After finishing his studies, Kenneth Kingsland was employed as an assembler at the Pratt & Whitney United Aircraft Corporation's engine factory in East Hartford, Connecticut. Married to Dorothy, he decided to volunteer like younger men and enlisted in...

  • Glen LeBleu

    Military | Sergeant | Gunner | 491st Bomb Group
    Barely 18, Glen LeBleu enlisted in the Air Corps in July 1943. Trained as a gunner, he was sent overseas and assigned to the 491st Bomb Group / 854th Bomb Squadron in England. He was on board B-24 "Belle Ringer" # 42-51195 when it crash-landed in...

  • Philip Trimmer

    Military | Sergeant | Gunner | 491st Bomb Group
    Barely 18, Philip Trimmer enlisted in the Air Corps in April 1944. Trained as a gunner, he was sent overseas and assigned to the 491st Bomb Group / 854th Bomb Squadron in England. He was on board B-24 "Belle Ringer" # 42-51195 when it crash-landed in...

  • Anthony Turco

    Military | Technical Sergeant | Radio Operator | 491st Bomb Group
    Enlisting in the Air Corps in January 1944, Anthony Turco trained as a Radio Operator / gunner. He was sent overseas and assigned to the 491st Bomb Group / 854th Bomb Squadron in England. He was on board B-24 "Belle Ringer" # 42-51195 when it crash...

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Units served with

  • 491st Bomb Group

    491st Bomb Group

    Group
    The 491st Bomb Group flew B-24 Liberators in bombing missions over northern France and Germany from June 1944 until April 1945. Missions over Germany included bombing the headquarters of the German General Staff at Zossen. The Group was awarded a DUC...

Aircraft

  • 42-51195 Belle Ringer

    B-24 Liberator
    B-24 # 42-51195 "Belle Ringer" is listed as having been first in the 493rd Bomb Group at Debach. Transferred to the 491st Bomb Group / 852nd Bomb Squadron, it was hit by Flak on the way to the target, the Gütersloh marshalling yards in Germany on 14...

Missions

  • 886

    14 March 1945
    "1,250 Heavies Strike Tanks, Gun Factories Near Hanover" ...

Associated Place

  • North Pickenham

    Military site : airfield
    Built comparatively late during 1943-44 as an Eighth Air Force bomber base, North Pickenham was rather cramped as an airfield site so the main runway was shorter than typical. It had three concrete runways, 50 loop hardstandings and two dispersed T2...

Events

Event Location Date
Born Pennsylvania, United States 1924

the son of Willard A. and Hazel R. (Wissinger) Heichel

Enlisted Altoona, Pennsylvania, United States 26 October 1942

as a Private in the Air Corps

near Florée, Belgium 14 March 1945

Crash-landed his Liberator in a field in Belgium on return from a mission to Gütersloh, Germany

Died near Johnstown, Pennsylvania, United States 28 December 1947

in an aviation accident near Johnstown, Pennsylvania

Buried Richland Cemetery, Geistown, Cambria County, Pennsylvania, United States 1948
Lived in Windber, Cambria County, Pennsylvania, United States

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
30 January 2016 15:30:54 ED-BB Changes to nickname, service number, highest rank, biography, awards, events, person associations, place associations, mission associations and media associations
Sources

NARA WWII Enlistments records
http://www.inexpensiveflighttraining.com/apps/photos/album?albumid=8801344
http://boards.ancestry.co.uk/surnames.heichel/35/mb.ashx
The Evening Sun, Hanover, Pennsylvania, 29 December 1947

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:23:14 AAM AAM ingest
Sources

491st BG Roster / Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia

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