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20th FW commander to honor POW with ceremony

Release Number: 020318

Col. Daniel Lasica, 20th Fighter Wing commander, will host a POW medal presentation and flyover for retired Col. Charles Heckel at Memorial Lake here, Jan. 19 at 12:00 p.m.

In August of 1944, Heckel was assigned to the 9th Tactical Air Force’s 474th Fighter Group. This was a close support tactical fighter group and the last group to fly the P-38 Lightning twin engine heavy fighter. On his third mission, 12 aircraft were confronted by 36 enemy aircraft. In the ensuing fight, one American and 6 Germans were killed. Lt. Charles Heckel’s aircraft collided with another causing him to eject. He was captured, spent seven months in German prison camps, and was later liberated by Gen. George Patton on April 29th, 1945. Heckel retired from the military in 1975 and spent the rest of his life in Columbia, South Carolina. Heckel passed away in 2015. Approximately 28 of Heckel’s friends and family members will attend the event.

Media interested in attending the event should R.S.V.P. no later than 12:00 p.m., Jan. 18. Please R.S.V.P. or direct questions to the 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs office at 20FWPublicAffairs@us.af.mil or 803-895-2015.