Obituary of Melvin Meharg Heckman – 1923-2018
Melvin Meharg Heckman, known as Mel, was born on October 14, 1923 on a farm near Fleetwood, Pennsylvania and baptized in the local Lutheran Church. Mel worked on the family farm and while delivering newspapers, he read about the European Conflict of World War II. When he turned 17 he enlisted in the US Navy. His enlistment date was December 26, 1940, and he joined his two brothers and sister serving in the conflict. He finished his tour of duty in the Navy when the war was over in May of 1946. Mel was assigned to Pearl Harbor and was there on December 7, 1941, when it was bombed by the Japanese. During the conflict he was injured and received a Purple Heart. He then served 1 year on Palmyra Island before entering Officers Candidate School and Flight School where he graduated as a fighter pilot. Mel flew both the “Grumman F6F Hellcat” and the “Chance Vought F4U-4 Corsair”.
When WWII was over Mel returned to the East Coast and was an insurance agent in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. While there, he became a 32 Degree Mason and is a member of the Robert R. Bringhurst Lodge #686, Philadelphia, PA. He married Hazel Hiltebeitel and they had three children, Melvin M. Jr., Joanne R. and Robin B. Being an avid fisherman, the family spent weekends on their boat off Beach Haven, New Jersey. In 1969 Mel and Hazel bought a ranch near Buffalo, Wyoming, and later owned National Livestock. His loving wife Hazel passed away on June 1, 1988. Robin, his youngest son, passed away on August 15, 1988. On May 1, 1990 Mel married Mae Basset. They moved to Sheridan, Wyoming in 1990. Mae passed away on December 18, 2013. Mel is survived by 2 children, 8 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren.
Mel remained very active volunteering for the Veteran Administration Volunteer Services along with the DAV. He was also the Wyoming State Chairman for the Pearl Harbor Survivors and involved in the Sons & Daughters of Pearl Harbor Survivor’s organizations.
Mel had two wishes he wanted to fulfill. The first was attending the 75th Anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, which he was able to do in Hawaii on December 7, 2016 thanks to Wish of a Lifetime. Mel completed his second wish by traveling in September 2017 to visit his only surviving sibling, Dolly, and his Pennsylvania relatives.
A visitation will be held Friday, February 16, 2018 6 – 7:00 p.m. with Funeral Service from 7 – 8:00 p.m. Both to be held at the Grace Anglican Church, Sheridan, WY. A military burial will be held at 1 p.m. on Sunday, May 27, 2018 at Willow Grove Cemetery in Buffalo, WY. It was Mel’s wish, in lieu of flowers, that donations are made to Chapter #9 of the Disabled American Veterans, PO. Box 5064, Sheridan, WY 82801. Online condolences may be written at www.championfh.com. Arrangements are under the direction of Champion Funeral Home.