SD Vietnam War Memorial Dedication Please Support the Memorial Soldiers, Heroes, and teachers information



In Memory of  U.S. Army Sergeant

Richard Theodore Heimes

Yankton, South Dakota, Yankton County

May 30, 1946 – January 30, 1968

Died of Injuries Received in Battle

Richard Theodore Heimes was born May 30, 1946, in Hartington, Nebraska. Richard’s parents were Gilbert and Verena Heimes. He had eleven siblings: Donald, Janet, Darrel, Sharyl, Leah, Rolland, Eileen, Marie, William, Kenneth, and Patricia. Richard attended county schools and Sacred Heart High School. According to his family, “Richard was known for his generosity, kindness, and his smile. He loved baseball, football, and dancing. He was nearly always seen wearing an ascot around his neck.” His mother said of him, “He was fun to be around and full of life.”

In 1964, Richard Heimes first entered the military and was trained in infantry at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri. He had additional training in tanks and infantry at Fort Knox, Kentucky, and airborne training at Fort Benning, Georgia after that. Sergeant Heimes served in Korea with the 73rd Armored Battalion before being transferred to the 72nd Armored Battalion in Germany. Then he was transferred again, this time to Vietnam where he served with Company A, 1st Battalion, 69th Armored Division, 4th Infantry Division.

Of his decision to re-enlist for a second tour of Vietnam in 1966, Richard’s mother wrote: “Richard had already been to Vietnam once and signed up for another tour; when I asked him why, he said, ‘It will keep some other son from having to go over there and besides, I’ve been there and I know what is expected.’” While on leave, Richard married Leona Kochmick of Dante, SD. They had a daughter, Michelle.

The following lines were taken from a last letter sent home from Sergeant Heimes, dated January 22, 1968. “Well folks it won’t be long now before I’ll be home for good. No more foreign counties for me. I’ve seen enough of them in the past three years. I’ve got what I want now and now I can serve my family.”

Sergeant Richard Theodore Heimes died on January 30, 1968, as a result of injuries received when the tank he was in was hit by a hostile rocket in battle near the city of Pleiku Province, Vietnam, where Viet Cong were attempting to control the city. The official report read in part, “Sergeant Heimes’ personal gallantry, excellent leadership and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.”

A friend of Richard’s, Father Bertolucci of St. Peters Church of Albany, New York, wrote to Richard’s family the following lines: “What a reality that shows me that death is the way to life. A strange consideration which only my faith in Jesus Christ helps me to understand.” After the body was returned to the United States, the funeral was held at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church and he was buried with military honors at St. Agnes of Sigel Cemetery in Utica..

Richard Heimes received numerous awards and “stories of his bravery are recorded in detail with the 4th Infantry Division Headquarters in San Francisco,” according to his family. Among his awards were the Silver Star Medal, the Purple Heart Medal, Army Commendation Medal with “V” device, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Military Merit Medal, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with palm, Expert Badge with Rifle Bar, and Sharpshooter Badge with Pistol Bar.

Richard current’s survivors are his mother, Verena Heimes, his siblings: Donald, Janet, Darrel, Sharyl, Leah, Rolland, Eileen, William, Kenneth, Patricia, and his daughter, Michelle Hollman. He was preceded in death by his sister, Marie, in 1954. His father, Gilbert, passed away in 1997.Richard was one of five sons who served in the military: Donald was in the Marines, William and Darrel were in the Army; in fact, Darrel even served with Richard in Vietnam; and Rolland was in the National Guard. In closing, his family said of Richard:

Richard always had a profound sense of duty and responsibility to his country. He believed in freedom and followed in his brothers’ footsteps when it became his time to serve his country. Richard first entered the US Army in 1964. He did not waver when he was sent to the war in Vietnam in 1966.

This entry was respectfully submitted by Shaunna Farwell, 8th grade, Spearfish Middle School, Spearfish, South Dakota, October 4, 2005. Information for this entry and profile approval were provided by the Heimes family via Verena, Janet, and Leah.


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