Frank Heekin was drafted in June 1941 and sent to Ft. Still, Okla. He was stationed there and trained for eighteen months. In March 1943 he joined the Air Corps. The Air Corps washed out all cadets and sent Frank to Air Mechanics School and Gunnery School, and from there he was attached to a crew.
He was sent overseas in June 1944, and Frank's crew joined with the 457 IBG of the 8th Air Force, Frank was shot down on his first mission to Berlin. The crew bailed out thirty miles west of Berlin, and was picked up right away and was taken to a local village jail. Four of the nine-man crew were killed. Frank was taken from the jail, along with three other prisoners, and taken to a cemetery and ordered to dig a grave. They put the four men in those graves. One was his crew's radioman.
From there Frank was taken to the Interrogation Center at Frankfort. They were there about a week before they were sent by boxcar to Stalag Luft IV. It was located ten miles south of the Baltic Sea in the Pomerania State Of Germany. Frank was there until February 6, 1945. From there, his group was put on the "Black Death" March. It lasted eighty-six days. It was six hundred miles in the dead of winter. Dysentery was a way of life. Frank escaped from the march in late March with three other men. They were loose about nineteen days, living off the land.
They walked at night and slept in the daytime, avoiding several German patrols. They finally connected with an English Army group on April 17. Two men were sick and were taken to hospitals in Belgium. Frank wound up in a hospital in England, and got back to the states in June 1945.
In 1947 Frank married Eleanor and were together for fifty-one years until she passed away, November 30, 1998. They had four children together. Three of their children are still alive.