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2015 Honoree

Dr. E. Bruce Heilman*

2015 Honoree

Shortly before beings recognized as our 2015 honoree, Dr. Heilman completed another accomplishment to honor our country in April. At the age of 89, he embarked as an American Legion Rider on a 6,000 mile motorcycle journey across America to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII. Dr. Heilman's earthly ride ended in 2019 at the age of 93. His memories and service will never fade from our memories, and we will continue to honor his service at the American Veteran's Tribute.

Dr. Heilman had a statue of him upon his Harley enacted in Oldham County in May of 2021. (A photo has been included in the gallery below).

Read a military biography of Dr. Heilman from Spirit of '45.

E. Bruce Heilman was born in Smithfield, Kentucky, in 1926. Bruce completed boot camp,
becoming the highest scorer on the Rifle Range in his platoon and one of the top three out of 600
Marines. He went on to complete Radio Gunnery School at the Naval Air Training Center in
Memphis, Tennessee. From there, Bruce was sent to California for further training. Bruce left
San Diego, California, en route to Okinawa--having missed the Battle of Iwo Jima where many
of his platoon buddies fought.
He stopped briefly in Hawaii, the Carolina Islands, and then laid in the harbor at Okinawa; he
arrived during suicide bombing raids on the fleet, after having been subjected to a Japanese
submarine en route (which was dealt with appropriately by Navy guns and depth charges). He
had his steak and egg breakfast, went down the rope ladder into a landing boat, and landed on the
beach with all of the anticipation of a first-time green Marine anxious to get into battle, but
uncertain as to the outcome.
Bruce’s outfit took over Chimu Field, newly dug out by the Seabees and covered with coral. This
airstrip helped to sustain the bombing of Japan. Bruce’s unit had responsibility for defending
against Japanese bombers, protecting the base against infiltrators, anticipating and mopping up
stragglers, defending the perimeters of the air base, applying learned knowledge in radio gunnery
and other skills, and providing service to the air wings.
Having been saved from likely death by the dropping of the atomic bombs and eliminating the
need to invade Japan, Bruce had a great experience of six months in Japan. He helped transport
the wounded, as well as supplies to service the Occupation troops. He participated in the
occupation of Japan, flying as Radio operator on staff of the Commander of the Fifth Fleet,
taking intelligence persons to Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and all over the Pacific. He also survived an
airplane crash on Iwo Jima. Medals received include the Asiatic Pacific Medal with Battle Star,
Combat Action Ribbon, Presidential Unit Citation, Good Conduct Medal, WWII Victory Medal,
American Campaign Medal, Japanese Occupation Medal, Badge of Honor of the Republic of
After the war, Dr. E. Bruce Heilman served as Chancellor, University of Richmond, VA 1986-
present; Chancellor and Interim Chief Executive Officer, University of Richmond, VA, 1987-
1988; President, University of Richmond, VA, 1971-1986; President, Meredith College, Raleigh,
NC, 1966-1971; Administrative V.P., George Peabody College of Vanderbilt University,
Nashville, TN, 1963-1966; Professor/Educational Administration, George Peabody College of
Vanderbilt University 1962-1966; Vice President and Dean, Kentucky Southern College,
Louisville, KY 1961-1963; Coordinator of Higher Education, State of Tennessee, Nashville, TN,
1960-1961; Controller and Bursar, George Peabody College of Vanderbilt University, 1957-
1960; Treasurer, Georgetown College, Georgetown, KY, 1954-1957; Treasurer, Housing Project,
City of Louisville, KY, 1954-1957; Business Manager, Kentucky Wesleyan College,
Owensboro, KY, 1952-1954; Assistant Professor of Accounting, Kentucky Wesleyan College,
1952-1954; Instructor of Accounting, Belmont University, Nashville, TN, 1951-1952; Auditor,
Albert Maloney and Company, CPAs, Nashville, TN, 1951-1952; Instructor of Business, George
Peabody College of Vanderbilt University 1950-1951; Teacher of Bookkeeping, Nashville City
Schools, Nashville, TN, 1950.

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