Our Heritage

Michael Heil

 

As patriotic World War II veterans, my Mom and Dad inspired me to attend USAFA and become a career officer in the Air Force. My Dad enlisted as an Army Aviation Cadet shortly after Pearl Harbor and received his pilot wings in March 1943. After checking out in P-40s, he joined the 88th Fighter Squadron, 80th Fighter Group in Burma, fighting with our British and Chinese allies against the Japanese. He flew combat air patrols over the Hump, attacks against Japanese positions and airfields, and close air support and interdiction missions in support of Merrill's Marauders and Chinese infantry. He flew 146 combat missions in the P-40 and 92 in the P-47 after his unit received P-47s in August 1944. His 238 combat missions set a record for the China-Burma-India (CBI) Theater in World War II.

My Mom joined the Army Nurse Corps in 1944 and was deployed as a 2Lt Army Nurse to the 73rd Evacuation Hospital in Shingbwiyang, Burma, where she met my Dad and fell in love. After receiving permission from the CBI Theater Commander, they were married in Myitkyina, Burma on March 17, 1945, the first in-theater military wedding in the CBI. My Dad had completed his tour and returned to the CONUS shortly after their honeymoon in Calcutta and Darjeeling India. As was the custom at the time, my Mom was required to resign her commission after she married and returned to the CONUS to join my Dad in August 1945.