The latest of this series of obituaries found in newspaper records, relates to the a veteran of the war in Vietnam.
John C. Heenan, 59, of Las Vegas, passed away Aug. 9, 2007, from multiple injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident.
He was born June 1, 1948, in Pontiac, Michigan, and was a lifetime Las Vegas resident.
John attended Red Rock Elementary School, Hyde Park Junior High, and Western High School, and he received a baccalaureate from UNLV. He served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War, and raced Formula One race cars for Team Army. He owned several automotive businesses, and was an adventurer and inventor.
John loved adventures, white water river racing, and loved to fly and go wherever life would take him. He enjoyed the opportunities to help others who were down on their luck.
John was preceded in death by his father, Leo John Heenan “Long John.” He is survived by his mother, Lee Heenan; his sisters, Patricia (William) Shields, and Margret Mahler; brothers, Michael (Marilyn) Heenan, Jim (Cici) Brandmeir, and William Baker; nephews, Michael, Christopher, Benjamin, and Matthew; niece, Marisa; and his aunts, Katie Southern, and Eviline (Rafe) Ledford.
Services will be at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 14, at Bunkers Mortuary Eden Vale Chapel, 925 Las Vegas Blvd. North. Contributions can be made to the VA of your choice.
Published in: Las Vegas Review-Journal on Aug. 12, 2007.
Who was John C Heenan?
There is scant information available to build a portrait of this man. I haven’t found any records of the accident which caused him to lose his life, or any of the activities in which, according to the obituary, he was involved.
I did track down two photographs of him in his younger days. Both are in the yearbook of his school, Western High School in Las Vegas, which indicate he was heavily involved in sporting activities.
The first image dates from 1963 and shows him with the school’s wresting team. He is in the middle row, second from left.
The second image is taken a year later where he is featured as a member of the school’s football team.
Here he is in the back row, on the left in the number 13 shirt, standing next to the coach.
Records of military veterans show he served almost two years with the army in Vietnam: between 9 Jan 1967 and 18 Dec 1969.
Parents of John C Heenan
As for his family, it appears that his father Leo John Heenan saw active service with the US Navy in World War 2. He was serving aboard the USS Besboro in 1943. This was a ship bought by the US Navy in June 1943 and commissioned on 22 September 1943 for duties of transporting cargo and troops between Seattle and Alaska.
Her first voyage on military service was in Alaskan waters in October that year. For almost 31 months—through the end of World War II and during the early postwar period—Besboro steamed along a resupply circuit carrying cargo and troops between Seattle, Washington, and various points on the coast of Alaska. She returned south for the last time early in 1946 and was decommissioned on 3 May 1946.
Leo John Heenan was serving as a gunner’s mate on the ship. He is listed as having been injured while on duty but the date of this is unclear. .
After the war he continued to live for a time in Pontiac. The US City Directory for Pontiac, Michigan show two Leo J Heenans residing at different addresses on Whitmore Road. One of them is an architect. My assumption is that this is Leo John Heenan, senior on the basis that here is a World War 1 draft registration card for this man which describes him as an architect born in 1891 (making him about 23 years old) whereas Leo John Heenan, junior was not born until 1921.
Census records show Leo John Heenan senior to be the son of a John E Heenan, born in Michigan to Irish parents and a Josephine Allrich, born in Ohio.
There are numerous records I still need to dig into relating to this family. Expect more updates in the future…
Beneficiary Identification Records Locator Subsystem (BIRLS) Death File. Entry for John C Heenan; Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.U.S., Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File, 1850-2010; ancestry.com
“U.S., School Yearbooks, 1880-2012”; School Name: Western High School; Year: 1964; Entry for John C Heenan; ancestry.com
U.S., World War II Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard Casualties, 1941-1945 ; entry for Leo John Heenan; Michigan, USA, Roll number ww2c_27; ancestry.com