Community, Creswell

Saluting a long, prosperous life: Heyman nears 100th birthday, honors start rolling in

CRESWELL – Richard Heyman has pretty much seen it all … and lived to tell about it. 

Former Air Force Col. Richard Heyman before the Oregon Ducks’ annual spring football game on April 27. Heyman and former Marine PFC Larry Rosenmiller were honored before the game. Rosenmiller turned 100 last week, and Heyman will be 100 on May 25.

Ten days from now, on Saturday, May 25, 2024, the retired Air Force Colonel and longtime Creswell resident will celebrate his 100th birthday. And he’ll be celebrating in style, by enjoying an old hobby.  

He’ll be at Creswell’s local airport, Hobby Field, where Shelley and Darrin Humble are throwing a bash for him on his big day from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Along with hors d’oeuvres and cake, there will be a powerpoint presentation highlighting Heyman’s impressive military career. 

And with any luck, Heyman will climb into a plane and go for a spin – as a passenger, of course. 

“It may happen. We may try to arrange that,” Airport Manager Shelley Humble said. “Sometimes it’s tough to get him situated into an airplane.” 

If you would like to attend the birthday celebration, please call the airport at (541) 895-2913. 

The whole idea of turning 100 seems kind of surreal to the former fighter pilot, who fought in three wars – World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. 

“I just feel old. When you say you’re 100 – or that close to it – it’s a little mind-boggling,” Heyman said Saturday afternoon at his Creswell home. 

“Just don’t ask him (how he feels) at 8 in the morning,” said his wife, Barbara. “This time of day isn’t too bad.”

The people in Richard’s life keep lining up to salute him. 

His two oldest children, Michael and Michelle, just visited for a week recently. “We had a real fine time.” They got a cake from their retired military group that had a plane named “Lindy” on it. “I was so damn young, I didn’t have a girlfriend back then.“I named my P-38 after my mother, whose name was Rosalyn, so I named my plane Lindy,” Heyman said. 

Barbara said seven of Richard’s golf buddies stopped by Friday to reminisce. Richard had played regularly until foot problems sidelined him a couple of years ago. He now walks with the aid of a cane. He still talks a good game, though. 

Meanwhile, Barbara, 88, was enjoying her own little celebration Saturday – it was her brother’s 94th birthday.

On April 27, she and Richard were the guests of honor at Autzen Stadium for the University of Oregon’s spring football game. A pair of F-15 Eagle fighter jets flew over during the ceremony. 

The couple will be hopping aboard their own flight to Washington, D.C. in October, when Richard will be inducted into the Hall of Fame wing of the Royal Air Force Museum American Foundation. He will be the guest of honor at this year’s event, the theme of which will be the “Spirit of the Battle of Britain.” 

“That’s awfully nice,” Heyman said. “Very humbling.” 

Next July will be the 85-year anniversary of the Battle of Britain, in which British and Allied airmen defeated the German Luftwaffe, who had threatened to invade England. 

“It’s amazing what the RAF was up against. They could have been bombed all to hell,” Heyman said. “The Germans had all the facilities, and England had to defend their little old nation.

“Poor old Winston Churchill had a very bad record from conflict. He had done something during WWI – I don’t know what it was – that didn’t work out real well, but he was a leader who put together the defense of the British Empire. He was an outstanding leader. He saved that country.

“So many people in the Battle of Britain did outstanding things before the U.S. got involved. 

“There wasn’t any room for slackers. When we first got to England in ’44, they invited us to participate in whatever functions were going on. … Every one of them was a hero, those RAF guys – during the Battle of Britain, we were fortunate we didn’t lose an awful lot of men and equipment just getting it to England from the States. Carrying everything to that little island, as a nation we’ve forgotten all that. … I was so young at that time, 19 and flying combat.” 

Heyman remembers his early combat days well, even though it’s been over 80 years ago now. 

And he’s lived to tell about it. 



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