Steven Wayne Heitman

Staff Sergeant
Army of the United States
23 April 1943 - 29 May 1974
Indianapolis, Indiana
Panel 44E Line 039

Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Steven Wayne Heitman

27 Jul 2004

Sir, You are remembered along with the others who flew that day on 13th March 1968:

  • LT Purda, pilot and aircraft commander;
  • CW3 Jimmy Lee Watson, copilot;
  • SFC Eugene Gubbins, crew chief;
  • PFC Larry Jay Moore, door gunner;
  • SSG Steven Wayne Heitman, passenger;
  • SGT Cleveland Evans, 3rd MT Bn, 3rd MarDiv; and
  • 4 unidentified personnel from 1st Cav Div units
From a wearer of CWO Jimmy Lee Watson's MIA bracelet,
Mark Shanks
10 Dec 2004

I am proud to say that I wear this soldier's bracelet every day, and I have for the past 4 years.

Keith Schoeneick

24 Jun 2005

I proudly have been wearing his MIA Bracelet since I received it.

My father was also in Vietnam. He came home proud of those with whom he served. I am proud of him and those who I never got to meet.

I wear it, and I pray for him and those missing along with him every day.

It is kind of odd that I am from Costa Rica; so is my dad. Still, we have always had it on our minds.

God Bless you, wherever you are.

Arik Nunez,
son of Herman Nunez
San Jose, Costa Rica

08 Nov 2005

You will always be remembered. My friend gave this MIA bracelet to me so I could try and find information on SSG Steven W. Heitman, so she could send it to him or his family. Would love to hear from SSG Heitman's family, so we can return his bracelet. I salute one of America's heroes.

James Nash Jr.
7513 Idolbrook Lane, Raleigh, North Carolina 27615

09 Dec 2006

As a Navy veteran of the Viet Nam war, I am deeply concerned about the status of our Brothers In Arms who did not return home. In a belated salute to those who fell, I just received my bracelet with Staff Sergeant Heitman's name on it.

Staff Sergeant Heitman and all who gave their lives there are our real heroes.

I am deeply honored to wear this bracelet in tribute to all those who did not return. They have laid a "costly sacrifice upon the altar of Freedom".

Colin Cressman

24 Jul 2007

I have been wearing SSgt Heitman's bracelet since the day I visited the Wall during my Plebe Summer trip to the Wall.

I just lost it this past weekend while white water rafting. I am now in search of a replacement and have found this memorial. I have told his story to hundreds if not thousands of people who have asked over the last 4 years what it was I wearing.

To you sir, you are not forgotten.

Wilson B.
E-Mail will be forwarded by the

A Note from The Virtual Wall

On 13 March 1968 a UH-1B HUEY (hull number 67-17254) departed Phu Bai Airfield (Hue) enroute Camp Evans, some 27 miles to the northwest. Ten men were aboard the aircraft: At about 1830 the aircraft was brought down by enemy ground fire in Nam Giang village approximately 8 kilometers north-northeast of Camp Evans. None of the 10 men aboard the Huey were injured in the incident and all of them safely exited the aircraft. A decision was taken to split into two groupd of five men each with one group, led by 1LT Peda, striking out for Camp Evans while the other group remained with the helicopter to safeguard it. And so it was done.

The coastal area northeast of Camp Evans had a history of VC activity, and Nam Giang had an active VC militia headed by the village chief. He rallied his militia and they attacked the soldiers who remained with the helo. After a brisk exchange of fires, the US soldiers withdrew from the helo. As they did so, two soldiers were killed - Gubbins and Moore. The remaining three established a defensive position in the village cemetery but eventually were killed. Although the villagers buried Gubbins and Moore in a single grave more or less where they fell, the other three Americans were removed from the cemetery and buried in separate, but nearby, locations.

Meantime LT Peda and the four unidentified soldiers walked into Camp Evans at 2000 hours. Once the situation became clear, an immediate and intensive search and rescue operation was organized to locate the rest of the flight crew and passengers. However, the initial search failed to locate either the aircraft or the missing personnel.

Elements of the 1st Cavalry Division recovered two bodies (identified as SFC Eugene Gubbins and PFC Larry Moore) in a shallow grave on 28 March. Although search efforts continued for the other three men in and around the location where the two bodies were found, as well as between Camp Evans and the crash site, they were not found. When the formal SAR efforts were terminated WO Jimmy Watson, SGT Cleveland Evans, and SSG Steven W. Heitman were listed Missing in Action.

In early 1975 JCRC personnel revisited the site, and although they did recover material which positively identified the crash site as well as additional remains attributable to SFC Gubbins and PFC Moore they did not locate the other three men. Watson, Evans, and Heitman were continued in MIA status until their respective service Secretaries approved Presumptive Findings of death for them.

In 1997 a joint US-Vietnamese team again visited Nam Giang village, and this time the villagers cooperated with the searchers. Three former VC militiamen who participated in the 1968 fight still lived in the village and all three gave much the same story about how the five US servicemen who remained with the helo had died. Unfortunately, the area where the three men who died in the cemetery were buried had been repeatedly disturbed over the years through cultivation and the digging of irrigation ditches. As a result of time and changes, the three militiamen - two of whom had participated in the burials - could not locate the graves ... excavations in the areas where they were thought to be found no remains, personal equipment, or anything which could be associated with Watson, Evans, or Heitman. As of 30 May 2008 their remains have not been repatriated.

The surviving pilot, 1LT Robert C. Peda, was killed in action less than a month later, on 07 April 1968.

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
one who wears his MIA bracelet,
Mark Shanks

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 27 Jul 2004
Last updated 05/30/2008