The Wall of Faces

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is honored on Panel 1W, Line 100 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

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  • A friend, an excellent father and husband, a superior pilot

    Posted on 3/7/19 - by Pete Martineau
    Keith was a substitute pilot killed by anti aircraft missiles during one of the very last days of Viet Nam war combat. I held Keith in high regard. He earned the respect of all those who knew him.
  • Final Mission of COL Keith R. Heggen

    Posted on 5/6/14 - by
    Frustrated by problems in negotiating a peace settlement, and pressured by a Congress and public wanting an immediate end to American involvement in Vietnam, President Nixon ordered the most concentrated offensive of the war--known as Linebacker II--in December 1972. During the offensive, sometimes called the "Christmas bombings", 40,000 tons of bombs were dropped, primarily over the area between Hanoi and Haiphong. White House Press Secretary Ronald Ziegler said that the bombing would end only when all U.S. POWs were released and an internationally recognized cease-fire was in force. The Christmas Bombings, despite press accounts to the contrary, were of the most precise the world had seen. Pilots involved in the immense series of strikes generally agree that the strikes against anti-aircraft and strategic targets was so successfull that the U.S., had it desired, "could have taken the entire country of Vietnam by inserting an average Boy Scout troop in Hanoi and marching them southward." On December 21, 1972, a B-52G bomber stationed on Guam was ordered to take part in the Christmas bombings. The crew of this B52 consisted of pilot LTCOL James Y. Nagahiro, co-pilot CAPT Donovan K. Walters, electronic warfare officer MAJ Robert R. Lynn, gunner SSGT Charles J. Bebus, and crewmembers CAPT Lynn R. Beens, COL Keith R. Heggen, and COL Edward H. Johnson. Their B-52G was outfitted more or less as were the other B52 models, equipped with .50-callibre M-3 guns and 27-750 pound bombs, but with the additional capacity to carry aerial mines. LTCOL Nagahiro's aircraft successfully completed its mission, but was hit by a surface to air missile (SAM) in the tail section shortly after turning toward the safety of Thailand. Nagahiro gave the order for the crew to eject. The fate of the crew is varied. Nagahiro, Beens and Heggen were captured, and Heggen died in captivity. Until his release, the U.S. did not know Nagahiro had been captured. After their release in 1973, Nagahiro and Beens were able to fill in further information on the missing crew members. Nagahiro relates that he saw Walters eject from the plane and heard four others, Lynn, Bebus, Heggen and Beens, go out from behind him. Beens states that he saw Walter's identification card in a stack of cards on a desk at Hoa Lo (Hanoi Hilton) prison in Hanoi. Nagahiro saw Johnson's name written on a pad at the prison. Hegger was captured alive, but died in captivity. Although the Vietnamese returned the remains of Keith Heggen in March 1974, they have consistently denied knowledge of any of the rest of the crew. In October 1988, the Vietnamese "discovered" the remains of Bebus, Johnson, Lynn and Walters and returned them to U.S. control. For 16 years, they were political prisoners--alive or dead--of a communist nation. [Narrative taken from; image from]
  • Remembering An American Hero

    Posted on 12/15/13 - by Curt Carter
    Dear Colonel Keith Russell Heggen, sir

    As an American, I would like to thank you for your service and for your sacrifice made on behalf of our wonderful country. The youth of today could gain much by learning of heroes such as yourself, men and women whose courage and heart can never be questioned.

    May God allow you to read this, and may He allow me to someday shake your hand when I get to Heaven to personally thank you. May he also allow my father to find you and shake your hand now to say thank you; for America, and for those who love you.

    With respect, and the best salute a civilian can muster for you, Sir

    Curt Carter
  • We Remember

    Posted on 9/23/13 - by Robert Sage
    Keith is buried at Arlington National Cemetery, grave 105-1 Sect 11

  • Remembering Keith R Heggen

    Posted on 5/21/12 - by Donald J Green, LTC, USA RET
    Keith & I were high school classmates in a class of 20, participated in sports together, and graduated together in May 1949. He became a career Air Force Officer; I retired from the US Army as a LTC after 20+ years of active duty. While still on active duty, I attended his memorial service at Blytheville AFB. I have submitted a request to be able to honor Keith by reading his name during the 2012 Veterans Day ceremonies at the Wall.
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The Wall of Faces

Brought to you by the organization that built The Wall, the Vietnam Veterans Virtual Memorial Wall is dedicated to honoring, remembering and sharing the legacies of all those who died in the Vietnam War. Here you can go beyond the names on The Wall to see the faces, share the stories and read the remembrances posted by friends, neighbors, classmates and family members.