Keith Russell Heggen

Keith Russell Heggen
U.S. Air Force
Colonel [O-6]
Keith Russell Heggen grew up in Humboldt County in the town of Renwick. He graduated in the class of 1949. Heggen joined the Air Force and trained to work aboard a B-52. He was career Air Force and achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He was stationed at Blytheville Air Force Base in Arkansas. In the early 1970s Heggen was sent on a temporary duty assignment to Quam. The B-52 he was assigned to participated in Operation Linebacker II in December 1972. The operation was initiated by President Richard Nixon. Nixon used the relentless bombing campaign of North Vietnam to negotiate an end to American involvement in Southeast Asia and force the North Vietnamese to sign an agreement at the Paris Peace Conference. On December 21, 1972 Heggen’s B-52 successfully bombed their targets in North Vietnam before their aircraft was struck by a surface-to-air missile just outside of Hanoi. The crew was able to evacuate the bomber before it crashed. Of the seven-man crew, three were confirmed to have been captured by North Vietnamese forces, including Heggen. The 41-year-old Iowan died while a prisoner of war on December 26, 1972. His remains were repatriated to the United States in 1974. The other two captured Americans were freed from captivity in January 1973 as a result of the Paris Peace Conference. In October 1988, the Vietnamese returned the remains of the four other missing crewmen. Heggen was promoted to Colonel while a prisoner of war. His body was laid to rest at the Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. COL Heggen left behind a wife and two sons.
Vietnam War
Conflict/Time PeriodVietnam War
Service Location
Separation StatusKilled In Action (KIA)
Specific Jobs