Memorial services for Robert A. Heckman, 83, formerly of Boone County, will be at a later date and burial will be at Arlington National Cemetery.
He died Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020.
Barnes Friederich Funeral Home of Midwest City, Okla., is handling arrangements.
Robert Heckman was born on a farm near South Branch Lutheran Church in Boone County on June 12, 1937. He lived with his grandparents, Andrew 0. and Laura Tisthammer until the age of three. He moved to Lincoln with his parents and attended school in Lincoln and Friend. He then moved to Albion to attend school in the second semester of his freshman year. He graduated in 1955 and attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, graduating with a bachelor of science in business administration.
He also was commissioned at that time in the U.S. Air Force. He entered the Air Force in November 1959 and went to James Connelly Air Force Base (AFB) in Waco, Texas, for basic navigator training, and on graduation, he went to Mather AFB in Sacramento for advanced navigator schooling.
On graduation from Mather, he started B-52 upgrade training and did training at Castle AFB in Merced, Calif., and Walker AFB in Roswell, N.M. At the completion of this training, he was assigned to B-52H crew duty at Minot AFB in North Dakota. In 1967, he was assigned to Strategic Air Command headquarters in Omaha.
In October 1967, he married Elisabeth Johnson in a full military wedding in the Chapel at Offutt AFB. In 1969, he was selected for a year of training with industry. He was a management trainee for a year with the AC Electronics division of General Motors in Milwaukee, Wis. From there he went to Vietnam with basic duty as a forward air navigator/controller flying the night mission on the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
In October 1970, he was selected for the executive officer position for the 20th Tactical Air Support squadron, at that time the largest flying squadron in South East Asia. During his tour in Southeast Asia, he flew 128 combat missions and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with three oak leaf clusters and the Air medal with seven oak leaf clusters.
On his return to the United States, he attended the Air Command and Staff college in Montgomery, Ala., and simultaneously attended Auburn University at Montgomery and completed a bachelor of science degree in political science. He was a distinguished graduate of the Air Command and Staff College. He then went to Wright Patterson AFB and worked for the next three years as the production officer for the Maverick Missile program.
Completing that tour in 1975, he was assigned to the Hughes Aircraft Corporation in Culver City, Calif., as the deputy Air Force plant representative Officer (AFPRO). In 1977, he went to TRW in Redondo Beach as the AFPRO, and then in 1978, back to Hughes Aircraft as the AFPRO.
In 1979, he was selected to be the vice commander of the Air Force Contract Management Division in Albuquerque. In 1980, he was assigned as the deputy director of the Air Force Acquisition and Manufacturing Directorate in the Pentagon. He served in that capacity until his retirement in 1981. He was hired by the Ball Corporation to manage their Washington, D.C., office. In 1983, he returned to the Ball operations in Boulder, Colo., and worked on various programs and projects.
When he retired in 1993, he was the director of classified security. In 2000, he worked for five months for the U.S. census.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Ray and Alice Heckman, and his nephew, Sean Lough. He is survived by his daughter, Paris; former spouse, Elisabeth; his sister, Dr. Diane Lough and niece Stephanie. He also is survived by his friend, Damon Caylor.
He was particularly proud of the fact that during his military career he had held a spot promotion to captain, and both promotions to Major and Lt. Col were from Below the Primary zone, and he was promoted to full Colonel with less than 18 years of active duty.