|Last Wartime rank:
21st FS, 352nd FG P-47
486th FS, 352nd FG P-47 (First combat unit, operation Fall 1943 at Bodney England)
Shared E-boat (grnd) Feb. 1944
6 locomotives (grnd obviously!) April 1944
Shared Ju-52 (grnd) April 1944
7 confirmed a/c dest and 5 damaged (grnd) April 24 1944 - DSC
Two Me-109 (air) May 8, 1944
8 locomotives (grnd) May 1944
1.5 Me-109s (air) May 28th 1944
1 Me-109 (air) June 21st 1944 - Shuttle Mission - Record dist. vict.
1 Fw-190 (air) March 2, 1945 Fw-190 from II/JG 301
7 destroyed a/c confirmed (grnd) April 15th 1945 - Silver Star
3.5 Migs Confirmed (air) Korean Conflict - Sept-January 1952-53
Total Sorties: N/A
Strike Rate: N/A
Assigned Combat Aircraft:
P-47D Razorback, PZ*Hbar "Happy"
Nose art of Disney character
dwarf Happy, SN: 42-5183
P51B, PZ*Hbar, "HELL-ER-BUST"
P51D, PZ*Hbar, "HELL-ER-BUST"
F-86 Sabre, FU-756, "HELL-ER-BUST X"
SERVICE: Flight School as above, Assigned to the 352nd FG for combat,
operational in Fall of 1943 with 486th FS, flew two tours, participated in
first three-way Shuttle Mission "Frantic" to Russia and Italy, served on the
continent from advanced bases late 1944 through 1945, set one-mission
8th FC strafing record and later matched feat, holds record for victory
furthest from home base by a fighter aircraft at 1000 miles during Shuttle
over Brest Litovsk, post war served in WVANG, transferred to 16th FIS,
51st FIW during Korean conflict, downed over China January 1953, held
and tortured for two years and four months by Chinese, released May
1955, on alert at Homestead AFB during 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis,
retired as Lt. Col in 1967.|
STORY: P-51B damaged in dog fight during Russia Shuttle. Heller was determined to fly a/c back and repaired a/c, prop damaged in rough field landing in Russia, repaired this, the motor then threw a rod on takeoff, replaced engine and flew homeward via Middle East ATC route alone, airplane confiscated by envious base commander in Casablanca, so Heller finally returned to home base of Bodney in England by ATC.
QUOTE: Describes his second victory on May 8th 1944 with,
"This was the hairiest combat I was ever in. On this day Cutler
was probably smiling in anticipation as the two of us turned to
attack 20 plus 109's, but I was scared shitless. Anyway, when I
got that second 109 down on the deck it was hairy as he would
turn around buildings so I couldn't pull lead on him. Finally we
got into a just-above-stalling Lufbery and it was him or me just
a few feet above the ground. I was very thankful when he
broke out and I got the final burst in. As I dove in to take a
picture of him, my coolant boiled over and came right back on
the windscreen. I pulled up and in reflex automatically jammed
the coolant door open. I climbed to 10,000 feet, heading home,
and made a blind call on the radio that I would most likely bail
out, but that I got two 109's. We had been way south of Berlin,
and I chose 10,000 feet as it was too high for the light stuff and
too low for the big guns. I was real concerned that my engine
would quit over the Channel, but she kept going and I got home
with it. The tech rep couldn't believe I'd flown for two hours
after popping my coolant. He surmised that I'd saved a fraction
of coolant and it turned to steam, providing the necessary
cooling to keep the engine from seizing up."