BOSSIER CITY – Another member of the Greatest Generation is gone at 93. Retired USAF CMSgt Raymond L. Heck passed away peacefully in his home Monday morning, Aug. 3rd. Born July 12th, 1922, Raymond grew up during the hard times of the Great Depression and the New Deal era, instilling in him the values of hard work and thriftiness. He was fascinated by the new age of aviation, and when the country went to war, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1942, hoping to get a flying assignment. When color blindness disqualified him as a pilot candidate, he decided “if he couldn’t fly ’em, he could fix ’em”, and was sent to Mississippi to attend Flight Mechanics school, and then to Texas for Gunnery Training. While awaiting assignment overseas in Scotts Bluff, Nebraska, he married his sweetheart, Mary Elizabeth Shannon. They spent 57 wonderful years together. The newlywed left for Europe at the young age of 21, and spent the next 6 months flying 50 missions in B-24 Liberator bombers with the 376th Heavy Bomb Group based at San Pacrazio, Italy. The missions included some of the longest range and deadliest bombing missions of the war, including the famed “Ploesti Oil Field” missions in Rumania.
Upon returning stateside, Raymond left active duty and went to work as a machinist for North American Aircraft, but still flew as a member of the Air National Guard. He was recalled to active duty at the beginning of the Korean War. He remained with the Air Force until 1977, when he retired as a CMSgt and moved to Bossier City. He and Mary enjoyed their leisure time, spending many of their days at a trailer on Toledo Bend lake, where Mary organized card games and quilting bees and Ray loved to fish for crappie and bluegill off his pontoon boat. After Mary passed in 2001, Ray travelled for months at a time, seeing as much as he could of the great country he had faithfully served for so many years. To the chagrin of his children (son Alan Heck, daughters Mary Ann Edmiston (deceased) and Nora Rae Schumacher), he would be gone for months at a time, travelling by ferry up to Alaska, and taking whatever route he decided looked interesting, and returning “when he darned well pleased”. He travelled to China to see the Great Wall and Forbidden City, to Ireland to see the Blarney Stone, and to the Panama Canal, among other places. He made many friends along the way, many of whom he has stayed in touch with over the years.
The last couple of years have been spent quietly at home, working on his hobby of making airplanes from aluminum beverage cans and watching golf on TV, except for Fridays, which were reserved for bingo at the Veterans Bingo Hall.
In addition to the children mentioned previously, Raymond leaves behind 4 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren.
The family would like to thank the VA Home Based Primary Care team and SouthernCare Hospice for their care and support.
Services will be held Saturday, August 8th, 2015 at Hillcrest Memorial Funeral Home Chapel, with visitation from 9 am to 10 am and funeral service at 10 am, with internment to follow. Officiating will be Rev. Stephen Fife, pastor of First United Methodist Church of Columbia, LA.
You may offer condolences to the family by visiting www.hillcrestmemorialfh.com.