Michael Wayne Heede, Jr.
Sergeant, United States Marine Corps
U.S. Department of Defense
IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 519-09
DoD Identifies Marine Casualties
The Department of Defense announced today the death of two Marines who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.
Sergeant Michael W. Heede Jr., 22, of Delta, Pennsylania, and Staff Ssergeant David S. Spicer, 33, of Zanesfield, Ohio, died July 13, 2009, while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.
Heede was assigned to 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Califfornia.
Spicer was assigned to 8th Engineer Support Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 2, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
For additional background information on Heede, news media representatives may contact the 1st Marine Division public affairs office at (760) 725-8766.
For additional background information on Spicer,
news media representatives may contact the II Marine Expeditionary Force
public affairs office at (910) 451-7200.
Heede was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
He was killed last month in the Helmand Province in Afghanistan.
Heede was a 2005 graduate of Kennard Dale High
School in the Southeastern School District.
16 July 2009:
He was a cross-country star in high school, an incurable optimist and a young man who wanted to be a Marine so badly that he signed up when he was 16, two years before they could take him in.
Now Michael W. Heede of Edgewood, a combat engineer on his third tour of duty overseas, has become one of the latest casualties in the increasingly deadly U.S.-led war in Afghanistan.
"I'm now a member of a club I never thought I'd join - mothers of young people killed in the war," his mother, Gloria Crothers, said Wednesday.
Heede, 22, was one of two Marine sergeants from Maryland whose remains were returned to Dover Air Force Base Wednesday, two days after both died in an IED explosion during fighting in Helmand province, according to the Department of Defense.
Staff Sergeant David S. Spicer, 33, of Olney, was killed alongside him.
The Pentagon announced the deaths in a statement Wednesday. A few hours later, at 1 p.m., their bodies arrived at the Delaware base, where a Marine Corps transfer team moved their flag-draped coffins from a 747 jet to a transport vehicle during a solemn military service known as a dignified transfer.
As 15 of Heede's family members and several of Spicer's loved ones looked on, a team of seven Marines and a representative of Dover Air Force Base held their salutes as the coffins passed, and the vehicle slowly drove away, its lights flashing.
The event lasted about 15 minutes, said Air Force Captain Heather Garrett, a spokeswoman for mortuary affairs at the base.
"The Air Force and Marine Corps showed the utmost respect," Crothers said, "but nothing can help right now."
Perhaps she never envisioned such an end because her son, who spent most of his formative years in Delta, Pennsylvania, was such a gung-ho Marine. He told her at the start of his junior year at Kennard-Dale High School in Fawn Grove, Pennsylvania, where he was a cross-country star, that he wanted to sign up for a delayed-entry program that would commit him to a Marine career. He only needed his parents' signature.
She made him wait a year as a kind of test.
"As a senior, he still wanted it," Crothers said. "He never wavered. Michael was a Marine through and through."
Heede enlisted in September 2005, went to boot camp at Parris Island, South Caroline, and even wrote letters home praising the grueling training.
"I thought maybe they made him say those things," Crothers said.
According to a letter sent by a superior at Camp Pendleton, California, Heede distinguished himself with his intelligence, discipline, responsibility and positive attitude, attributes that earned him enough trust that he oversaw an armory at the base.
Heede, a veteran of the Iraq war, volunteered
for deployment to Afghanistan, his mother said, because two buddies were
going. He was assigned to the 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, 1st Marine
Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force. During his military career, he
won the Combat Action Ribbon, the National Defense Service Medal and a
Navy Unit Commendation Medal, among other honors.
But Wednesday Bowers and other former co-workers of Heede received the bad news that Heede, 22, of Delta, was killed Monday in Afghanistan.
He was a sergeant and combat engineer for the Marines and had previously served in Iraq with the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment from November 2006 to April, 2007, according to the Marines.
"Oh my goodness what a tragedy," Bowers said Wednesday shortly after learning of Heede's death. Bowers said Heede was a hard worker who had been "thrilled" to join the Marines. He said Heede had passed up opportunities to join the U.S. Air Force and the Army in order to pursue a career with the Marines.
Superintendent Tracy Shank of the South Eastern School District said Heede was a well-liked student who was active in several sports, including basketball and cross country. "He was a great kid," Shank said.
Shank said she knew Heede planned to join the military. She said she remembered that Heede wanted to be an underwater welder. Shank said she and the school district have been "very honored and very proud to have him as part of the family here at South Eastern."
Vicki Hammons, who works at Hickory Dicks, said Heede was a nice kid who was excited to join the military. Soon after Heede enlisted, he returned to Hickory Dicks in his full Marine uniform for a Christmas Party, Hammons said.
"It just really upset me when I heard that he died," Hammons said.
Bowers said Heede used to get in trouble "like teenagers do." But Bowers said Heede always came to work on time and worked hard.
Sandy Franke, who bought the Hickory Dicks restaurant from Bowers, said she remembers Heede stopping by after he completed boot camp. "He came back and visited all the time," Franke said. "Everybody loved him. It's a really bad loss."
In a statement Wednesday, the 1st Marine Division said it is mourning the loss of Heede and the Marines wished to send its condolences to the family.
In Delta Wednesday, flags were lowered to half-staff in honor of Heede at the Old Line Museum and the John S. Murphy Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7130.
HEEDE, MICHAEL W JR
Posted: January 2009 Updated: 21 October 2009