World War II veteran and avid American Legion Rider Dr. E. Bruce Heilman passed away Oct. 19 at age 93. A member of Maj. Charles A. Ransom American Legion Post 186 in Midlothian, Va., Heilman took part in multiple Rolling Thunder events with The American Legion Riders and also rode on the 2015 American Legion Legacy Run.
A World War II Marine Corps veteran, Heilman fought at Iwo Jima and decades later rode 6,000 miles across the country, traversing 20 states, to bring awareness to the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. Heilman served as a spokesman for The Greatest Generation Foundation and Spirit of ’45, organizations dedicated to honoring World War II veterans and honoring America’s Gold Star Families, families who have lost loved ones in combat.
"We’re celebrating the lives of those who died in battle," said Heilman during his ride. “We are saying to the world, 'This is an important date, and you ought to acknowledge it and be proud of your country and be proud of the guys who died saving your county.'
On the ride, Heilman met up with several American Legion Riders who provided escorts during his visits to their states.
"During my trip I learned more about The American Legion and the Legion Riders than you can ever imagine," Heilman would say after completing his ride. “They knew exactly where I was going no matter the state or city. They paved the way. They were hospitable. (They were) mostly young former military who thought it was a good thing to help me do what I was doing."
In addition to serving as the University of Richmond’s chancellor since 1986, Heilman also served as the university’s president from 1971 through 1986 and again from 1987 to 1988. The university flag is flying at half-staff through Oct. 27, in recognition of his passing. A memorial service will take place Oct. 27, at 2 p.m. in the university’s Cannon Memorial Chapel.
For a video of Heilman discussing the Legacy Run and his experiences at Iwo Jima, click here.
For a video of Heilman talking about his 6,000-mile journey, click here.