KELLY K HEINZE - SSGT
- DATE OF BIRTH:
- March 17, 1928
- DATE OF CASUALTY:
- August 24, 1965
- BRANCH OF SERVICE:
- South Vietnam
Kelly Karl Heinze was born on March 17, 1928, to Alice and Karl Heinze. Kelly participated in intramural softball and basketball.
Heinze entered the US Marine Corps from his hometown of Newark, NJ, in January 1946. He attained the rank of Staff Sergeant (SSGT). His tour of duty in Vietnam began on February 4, 1964. He served with the 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment and 3rd Marine Division. He was the Senior Mess NCO for the entire battalion.
Heinze was killed in action on August 24, 1965 in South Vietnam. He was survived by his wife, Margaret Makawski Heinze, his son, Michael, and two daughters, Carolyn and Donna.
Heinze was awarded the World War II Victory Medal, the China Service Ribbon, the Korean Service Medal, the United Nations Service Ribbon, the Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Medal and the Korean Presidential Unit Citation.
The following is an excerpt from a letter to Heinze's son, Michael, from Ron Harris, a Marine who served with his father in Vietnam:
Your Pop was the Senior Mess NCO for the entire Battalion. In other words, he was in charge of feeding the entire unit whether we were in base camp or out in the boonies hunting for the Vietcong. On many occasions, I saw your father in the "helo" doors when they were bringing hot meals to us in the cleared jungle areas. He would put himself at great personal risk to insure all the guys were being fed properly when we were not in base camp. He was not required to come out in the "choppers" with food but on many occasions he did anyway. Never let anyone tell you that food service non-commissioned officers, as your father was, were not in danger in Vietnam. I can assure you he was in harm's way as much as any other Marine in our unit. His job was so important as it really had to do with keeping the morale of the Marines high by furnishing first grade meals under extreme circumstances. I can assure you he did a first class job. Food was one of our many pleasures in Vietnam and SSGT Heinze did himself proud in that area.
Staff Sergeant in the Marine Corps in the 60's was a rank that was not easy to obtain. Being it was the first of the Staff grades in the enlisted ranks, you had to be a first class Marine or you never made that grade before they booted you out the door. Being your father was the Battalion Mess Sergeant, he had to be first class to be placed in that position looking after the nourishment of approximately 900 guys in the Battalion.
Unfortunately, we lost your father in the most tragic way. He had earned his time for R&R (rest and recovery) and the aircraft he was on crashed, killing him and other Marines. I'll never forget the day we got the news. We lost guys in combat all the time, but losing Marines in the way we lost your father, really lets the air out of you in the most devastating way.
In closing, I was proud to have served with your Dad. He was all Marine and you would have and should be very proud of him and his service to the United States and the way he represented himself and the United States Marine Corps. I can't feel your loss over the years of not having your father, but I feel the loss of my Brother Marine and always will. He will be in my mind and thoughts until my days come to an end.
Sources: Michael Heinze (son) and NJVVMF.
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