Gary Heeter

This is a picture of Gary Heeter, one of Charlie Bowman’s best friends during the Vietnam War. Bowman characterizes Gary and his other friend Paul Frisbee as being like “brothers” because of what they had been through together. Bowman loved “them more than life and [prayed that] they [would] make it home in one piece”. When Gary was injured, Bowman expressed sincere anger, stating that “I never felt so much hatred in my heart, I hated God, the NVA, the Captain, but most of all I hated myself. I had promised Gary I would take care of him and he was my brother I loved him”. He cynically characterizes Vietnam as “a thirsty leech drinking the blood of young Americans”. Bowman states that he will always “remember the sights and sounds” of the army hospital. Everywhere he looked, there “were men with their legs blown off, just stumps sticking in the air with bloody bandages on the ends” and “chest wounds with tubes sticking out of them”. Charlie developed alcoholism after returning from the war, perhaps as a coping mechanism. Gary sustained severe injuries but eventually healed. He had to be kept in a full body brace for a year but was later able to walk with the help of a leg brace and a cane. The two reunited thirty years later to go and see the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.