Community, Opinion & Editorial

Recalling wars, heroes and a loving husband …

Editor’s note: This is an edited version of a speech originally delivered Aug. 10, 2019, by Barbara Heyman to the Eighth Air Force Historical Society, Oregon chapter. It is reprinted here with permission.
CRESWELL – I was raised in Stoke-by-Nayland in East Anglia during WWII. My mother was a terrific person who never showed any fear during the war, though she had seven children to raise while my father, a military man, was gone for five years. That was a wonderful, easy time for me. As I lay on the downs in front of our house, I loved the sights of the beautiful bombers which, I was told, were there to support us and make our life better.
I also remember the sound of the V-1 Doodlebugs during the night. If you heard a doodlebug engine stop, you know it would come right on your house. One bomb from an enemy plane dropped but fortunately didn’t explode about 200 yards from our house.
During the war, we had only cold water in the house and we washed everything by hand. With seven children, my mother’s sugar ration was quite large. We had fruit trees and she would use sugar to make lots of fruit pies. Every time the ration books came in, we (children) would rush out to the local store and come back with quarter-rounds of sweets in our pockets.
My mother took in Women’s Land Army girls who had come down from the north of England to cultivate the fields and grow vegetables and so on because so few men were left in England.
At age 16, after the war, I left high school and worked in the county council, and that was when I met my future husband, Richard Heyman, in the mid-1950s when he was a captain in the Air Force. Five years later on Feb. 1, 1960, I arrived in the United States and our wedding was on the next day, Groundhog Day.
Richard had come back to the States and been stationed at a B-47 base, which did not appeal to him since he’d flown fighters during the war. Living in New Hampshire, I saw snow unlike any I’d ever seen in England. Our children were born there and I was also taking care of Richard’s two children. I had to learn how to use American money and to drive a car on the wrong side of the road.
The children and I went to Wichita when Richard was getting his training in the F-105. Then he was sent to Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. As I stood watching him get on the plane in Oxnard, California, with the children around me, that was the only time I worried that he was never coming back.
Richard and I wrote letters to each other every day. To keep busy, I took a Red Cross course and volunteered at various hospitals as a Gray Lady. I visited Richard when he was stationed at the Takhli Royal Thai Air Force Base. We visited Chiang Mai, where the royal family goes for holiday, and also spent a week in Hong Kong. I flew back to Edwards AF Base to prepare for a permanent change of station to Ramstein Air Base in Germany.
When Richard was stationed in Germany, he was flying with pilots from the seven NATO nations and I was lucky to be able to visit with my parents and family. The first time he went over to Europe was on the Queen Elizabeth with something like 13,000 troops. This time, we went over on the S.S. United States, first-class. We returned to the United States and eventually retired in Oregon.
I think of my parents often. Before I left for the United States in 1960 my father told me, “Don’t look back. Don’t compare. And if anyone can do it, you can.” I can and I did! I want to thank those of you who helped us out in WWII and every military person who has done their duty by this country.
This country is worth fighting for.



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