Neil F. Hein
Biography: Neil Frederick Hein was born on September 11, 1908, the son of William Frederick Hein and Kittie Luella Phillips of Humbird, Wisconsin. Kittie was originally from Mount Sterling, WI.
Neil married the former Marion W. Campbell, who was born October 4, 1908 and died February 27, 1980. In 1938, the Heins had their only child, a son, Neil Jr. They lived in Denver, Colorado, prior to Neil Sr. shipping off to Britain.
Service Time: We know very little about Neil’s service prior to the war but as of October 31, 1942, while the 6th Tank Destroyer Group was stationed at Camp Hood, he is listed as being second in command, under Col. Branner Purdue, at the rank of Major. Neil is also listed as an Infantry Officer. He continued to serve with the unit at least at least until July 20th, when he was sent on detached service to the British Staff School in England. Three days later he is listed as sick and in the 112th Evacuation Hospital. At the time, the unit’s Headquarters was listed as being in Bad Aibling, Germany but they also had responsibilities for the Dachau POW camp and had some level of command presence there.
The photo on left is from about 1946, after he had been promoted to full Colonel.
After the war, the Heins lived at Fort Meade in Maryland and from December 17, 1961 to April 29, 1963, he was post commander of Ft. McCoy, WI. At the time of his parents fiftieth wedding anniversary, his sister, Beth Jeffrey, is listed as living in South Dakota. One of the Neil’s last residences was in Colorado.
Neil Sr. passed away on Jan, 5, 1999 and is buried with his wife, near his parents, in the Mentor Cemetery. The cemetery is located in the town of Humbird, Mentor Township, Clark County, Wisconsin.
Research: Lt. Col. Hein is an elusive subject to be sure. I had actually thought he was one of the other officers in the pictures I had. It was the photos from the Newbury family that set me straight. Neil shows up in a number of the photos brought home by my father as well. He was second in command and very active in the unit. It would be my guess that he may have spent more time with the men than the Commanding officer. He seems to be a camera favorite. The little I do know about him, again, came from endless hours of internet searching. In addition to his obituary, information also came from the Ft. McCoy website and some from two separate newspaper clippings about weddings and one about his parents anniversary. I contacted Ft. McCoy and they were gracious enough to provide me with a photo of him, shown below, from the 61-63 time period when he was stationed there.
One of my findings was an envelope addressed to Mrs. Marion Hein at the Denver, Colorado address. The letter is from Neil and sent from New York with a date of 1944. I can’t make out the month but the unit wasn’t in that area for long. They were staged at Camp Kilmer, NJ, on Jan. 16, 1944, then moved on to New York on the 28th. They shipped out the very next day. I can only assume that the letter was sent during that short time and it may have been one of the last letters he sent before leaving the USA. I would imagine that was a very special letter….probably why the envelope is still around.
The following group of documents was provided courtesy of Miroslav Seifert who owns them as part of his personal collection. All the items originally belonged to Colonel Hein. Thank you Miroslav for sharing them with us.
1.) Certificate of Promotion to Captain 10-8-41
2.) Diploma from Command and General Staff School 11-11-43
3.) Certificate of Promotion to Lt. Col. 11-10-45
4.) Article 1 – Hein picked for British Staff School 6-45
5.) Article 2 – Hein picked for British Staff School 6-45
6.) Certificate of Promotion to Colonel 7-9-46
7.) Certificate of authorization to wear General Staff Identification 7-9-55
8.) V-Mail Letter to wife Marion and son Neil Jr. “Skip” on Feb. 10, 1944
Item 8 above, was an Ebay purchase and when it arrived, it was only 4″ x 5″ in size and printed on some type of photographic paper. I contacted the seller who educated me on V-Mail. The single page letters were put on microfilm to save weight and space which was at a premium on ships during the war. There were exceptions and as the war came to a conclusion, these restraints were lifted and original letters would have been shipped. This particular V-Mail had made it back to England through sales and trading of postal items and now it’s back in the U.S. after it’s third trip over the Atlantic. Thank you to Sheldon Kosky for this information.
The image on left is Colonel Hein’s complete uniform after he had received his General Staff Badge. You can see it on his right breast pocket.