Keith Heggen was born on September 1, 1931, in Hardy, Iowa. He enlisted in the U.S. Air Force on January 21, 1952, was accepted into the Aviation Cadet Program for pilot training in February 1953, and was commissioned a 2d Lt and awarded his pilot wings on May 12, 1954. Lt Heggen next completed B-29 Superfortress transition training and then B-47 Stratojet transition training before serving as a B-47 pilot until March 1957. After completing B-52 Stratofortress Combat Crew Training, Capt Heggen served as a B-52 pilot with the 346th Bomb Squadron at Westover AFB, Massachusetts, from March 1957 to June 1961, and with the 347th Bomb Squadron (redesignated the 367th Bomb Squadron in April 1963) at Westover and then McCoy AFB, Florida, from July 1961 to June 1970. During this time he deployed and flew combat missions in Southeast Asia in February 1966, from September 1966 to March 1967, from February to March 1968, from October 1968 to January 1969, and from October 1969 to February 1970. Lt Col Heggen served as a B-52 pilot with the 340th Bomb Squadron at Blytheville AFB, Arkansas, from June to July 1970, followed by service as Chief of the Operations and Training Division with the 97th Bomb Wing at Blytheville from July 1970 until he was forced to eject over North Vietnam and was taken as a Prisoner of War on December 21, 1972. Col Heggen died of his injuries received during ejection on December 26, 1972, but his remains were not returned to the United States until March 13, 1974. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious, burning blue,
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew -
And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high untresspassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.