Captain Thomas John Heitmann was born on November 23, 1983, to Tom and Mary Heitmann. He attended Holy Cross Grade School and graduated from St. Bede Academy in 2002.
While attending St. Bede Academy, Thomas was a top student, a well-respected athlete, and was inducted with his team into the Academy’s Hall of Fame. Thomas was named the 2002 News Tribune Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year. After St. Bede, Thomas attended Valley Forge Military College in Wayne, Pa. He was involved in the Young Republicans Club, Business Club, Officer Christian Fellowship, Catholic Fellowship, Regimental Choir, Drill Team and Student Government. Enjoying the performing arts, he played the role of Jesus in the Open Door Stage Company’s performance of “Godspell” and, most notably, he performed at Carnegie Hall in New York with the Regimental Choir.
Making Valley Forge Military College history, Thomas was the first first-year cadet to achieve the rank of Cadet Second Lieutenant (2LT). As 2LT, he supervised the development of our nation’s service academy’s Prepster Program and Valley Forge’s Army Reserve Officer Training Corps Early Commissioning Program. Prior to leaving Valley Forge, Thomas was inducted into the Anthony Wayne Legion Guard. While studying and training at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Thomas was the recipient of the National Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps Marine Option Scholarship in the fall 2006. He competed against every Midshipman in the nation for this prestigious award. In addition to the NROTC Marine Option Scholarship, he also received the physical fitness and leadership award.
In 2008, Thomas was commissioned as an officer of the U.S. Marine Corps. He completed his training at the Naval Air Stations in Corpus Christi, Texas, and Pensacola, Florida, and continued to be recognized for his academic abilities and leadership qualities. He received his wings and was assigned to fly the AH-1W Cobra attack helicopter at Camp Pendleton in California. Thomas was then assigned to Training Squadron 303, Marine Aircraft Group 39, of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing at Air Station Miramar in San Diego, California.
On September 19, 2011, at the age of 27, Thomas gave the ultimate sacrifice and died doing what he loved most, while flying a AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopter. He left an imprint of honor and courage, and was posthumously promoted to Captain.
To keep Thomas’ memory alive, and to honor his dream of building a running track at St. Bede Academy, Tom and Mary Heitmann embarked on a journey to raise the dollars needed, along with St. Bede Academy, to build the Captain Thomas John Heitmann Memorial Track. Nearly seven years later, in the Spring of 2018, the track was completed and dedicated to the memory of Captain Thomas John Heitmann. A significant amount of the financial support was raised during the annual SWING FOR A DREAM Memorial Golf Outings. The entire Heitmann Family created the fun and entertaining golf classic and more than $250,000 was raised to build the new track.
Wanting to expand their charitable giving in memory of Thomas, Mary and Tom created the Captain Thomas John Heitmann Memorial Donor Advised Fund with the Foundation. Captain Thomas John Heitmann had many ideas and dreams to give back to so many. Grants to make some of those dreams come true will be made from the Fund.
Your gift to the Captain Thomas John Heitmann Fund will is most welcome. To learn more about Thomas’ life, click here.