Grover C. Heiman, Jr. – Colonel,United States Air Force

Grover C. Heiman Jr., 82, a retired Air Force Colonel, recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross and a writer, died October 12, 2006, of heart disease at Falcons Landing, an assisted living facility in Potomac Falls. He had been a longtime Fairfax resident.


Colonel Heiman received the Distinguished Flying Cross in 2002, 50 years after he and 11 other men flew a top-secret reconnaissance mission over northern Russia. Colonel Heiman, the chief navigator, and his pilot, Lieutenant Colonel Roy Kaden, received the award after the mission was at last declassified.

Kaden recounted the story of the mission in a 2000 memoir. In the spring of 1952, with the Korean War in progress, the Pentagon became concerned that the Soviet Union might be planning some kind of nuclear attack from secret bases in northwestern Siberia. Colonel Heiman and his crewmates were dispatched on a reconnaissance flight from Thule Air Base, Greenland, to the Franz Josef Land archipelago in Soviet territory. A thousand miles of open water separated the base from the archipelago; the crew knew there would be no rescue if the plane, “Desperate Lonesome,” went down.

The mission found no evidence of a Soviet military presence and concluded that the Soviet Union’s Arctic Circle islands were no threat to U.S. national security.

After World War II, Colonel Heiman became a journalist and writer. He joined the staff of a small Texas newspaper, the Corsicana Daily Sun, as a news and sports editor, and also began writing short stories. He received $5 for the first one published.

He continued to write after being recommissioned as an Air Force Captain in 1949. He was the author of two young adult books, “Jet Tanker” (1961) and “Jet Pioneers” (1963), and “Aerial Photography: The Story of Aerial Mapping and Reconnaissance” (1972). The book traces the history of aerial reconnaissance from Napoleon’s use of balloon observers in Egypt to the use of aerial cameras during the Cuban missile crisis and the Vietnam War.

Colonel Heiman was born in Galveston, Texas, and attended the University of Texas at Austin before World War II. He graduated summa cum laude in business administration from the University of Southern California in 1957.

His military career began in 1941 with the country’s entry into World War II. In addition to being a navigator and flight instructor, he was a speechwriter for several generals, including Curtis E. LeMay, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He and “Old Iron Pants” (LeMay) got along great, Colonel Heiman once wrote, “because I didn’t quake before him.”

While stationed at March Air Force Base in California, he was a technical consultant/director on movies and TV shows that involved the Strategic Air Command. He worked on the movie “Strategic Air Command,” starring James Stewart, and was the Air Force technical assistant on “The Man Behind the Badge,” a police anthology show.

In 1963, he was stationed in Naples as chief public information officer for Allied Air Forces (NATO) Southern Europe. Back in the United States, he became chief of the magazine and books division for the Defense Department, the second of two Pentagon tours. He retired in 1968.

After his retirement, he became a writer and editor at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a columnist and associate editor of Nation’s Business. He retired as editor of the magazine in 1982 but continued to write for Nation’s Business, U.S. News and World Report and other magazines until 1984.

His wife, Virginia Dean Williamson Heiman, died in 1986.

Survivors include four children, Virginia Heiman-Myers of Fairfax Station, Buddy Heiman of Oak Hill, Virginia, Deborah Heiman-Hughes of Annandale and Richard Heiman of Midlothian, Virginia; a sister; eight grandchildren; and two great-grandsons.

Col. USAF (Ret.)

On Thursday, October 12, 2006, of Fairfax, Virginia. Beloved husband of the late Virginia D. Heiman; devoted father of Virginia D. Heiman-Myers of Fairfax, Virginia, Buddy Heiman of Oak Hill, Virginia, Deborah S. Heiman-Hughes of Fairfax, Virginia and Richard S.V. Heiman of Richmond, Virginia; dear brother of Karen Gold of LaPorte, Texas; cherished grandfather of William E. Myers, II, Danielle M. and Kyle M. Heiman, Charles Albert, IV, Clayton Patrick Jordan and Christian Noel George Hughes, Caitlin V. R. and Logan F. S. Heiman; adoring great-grandfather of Zachary William and Patrick Daniel Myers.

Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at Fort Myer Chapel on Wednesday, November 22, 2006 at 12:45 p.m. Interment Arlington Cemetery with Full Military Honors. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the American Heart Association, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond, VA or Military Officers Association of America (

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