Erwin L. Heitman
Biography: Erwin Louis Henry Heitman was born on September 16, 1921 in Clarkston, Washington. He was the son of George Heitmann and Minnie D. Timme. George was born in Germany and emigrated to the U.S. when he was 2 years old. Minnie was born in Kansas. Erwin had two brothers, Elmer and Walter.
Service Time: Erwin enlisted in the National Guard on September 16, 1940, in Lewiston, which is in Nez Perce County, Idaho, for what was originally a one year enlistment. Erwin’s time in the National Guard would end and a new term in the Army would begin. He was assigned to Company B of the 823rd Tank Destroyer Battalion and served with them during campaigns in Normandy and Northern France.
It was during their participation in the Rhineland campaign, on November, 13, 1944, that Erwin was killed in action. He was originally buried in Europe but was exhumed and re-buried on November 8, 1948, in the Normal Hill Cemetery in Lewistown, Idaho. At the time of his death, Erwin had reached the rank of Sergeant.
The main photo was taken while Erwin and his unit were stationed in Holland. On the back of the photo, he says, “They really haven’t treated me too bad, at least from the looks of the picture. So long. – Hank.” That was the last correspondence the family would receive from him. The photo below, at left, shows Erwin as a child (on left) with his two brothers. To the right is a school image of Erwin, in 1940, and the one below shows Erwin, second from the right, with other members of his family. His brother, Walter, on the far right, had signed up for the Navy on December 4, 1941, and spent the entire war serving on the battleship USS Tennessee.
I want to thank Roger Fitschen for providing the photos and information for this tribute. Roger’s father and Erwin were first cousins. It was Roger’s research, into the history of his family tree, that made it possible for us to properly honor Erwin.