In Memory

James Heppler

Of Needham, in Viet Nam.  Aug. 31.  Pfc James Howard, age 22, son of A. Francis and Anne E. (Snyder) Heppler, he was born in Winthrop but had lived in Needham most of his life.  He was graduated from Needham HIgh School, Class of 1966, and continued his studies at Stonehill College, North Easton.

He entered the Army in 1969 and underwent training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, and Fort Polk, Louisiana, before being sent to Vietnam, on May 11. Corporal James Howard Heppler was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for Valor, with Combat Distinguishing Device (V), for his exemplary gallantry in action. He was also awarded the Bronze Star Medal for Merit for his meritorious service. He served as an Infantryman and was assigned to A CO, 1ST BN, 5TH INFANTRY, 25TH INF DIV.

PFC James H. Heppler wass an infantryman serving with A Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry, 25th Infantry Division. On August 31, 1970, his unit was laagered in a night defensive position six miles southeast of Xuan Loc Air Field in Long Khanh Province, RVN. At approximately 3:45 AM, his location was attacked by a hostile force using rocket-propelled grenades. The Americans responded with small arms and automatic weapons fire and received supporting fire from U.S. artillery, helicopter gunships, and tactical air strikes. During the fighting, Heppler was killed,. Enemy losses were unknown while U.S. casualties were two killed and six wounded. Heppler was posthumously promoted to Corporal and award the Purple Heart for valor in combat..

Besides his parents, he leaves two brothers, John F. and Robert C., and a sister Jean P. Heppler, all of Needham. 

Military funeral from the Eaton Funeral Home, 1351 Highland Ave., Monday, Sept. 21 at 9 a.m. High Mass of Requiem at St. Bartholomew Church at 10:00.  Visiting hours Saturday 7-9, and Sunday 3-5 and 7-9.  In lieu of flowers, memorial may be made in his name to Stonehill College Building Fund, North Easton, Mass., c/o Father Haughey

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07/08/13 09:07 PM #1    

Philip Kaplan

Jimmie had a great sense of humor who was liked by all who knew him and who loved to play in our Friday night poker games.  He was a real hero who was unfortunately killed in Vietnam War, in either 1966 or 1967.

08/01/14 10:55 PM #2    

Carol Boudreau ((Irwin))

A great friend. Such a sad loss.



James Howard Heppler

Army of the United States
16 April 1948 - 31 August 1970
Needham, MA
Panel 07W Line 027

James H Heppler





08/05/14 02:08 AM #3    

Carol Boudreau ((Irwin))

-Jimmy was a wonderful friend in my life.   When I was just 10 years old , Jimmy was the very first person I met when he introduced himself to me as the movers were emptying our household furniture from the truck and loading it into our new home. I think Jimmy guessed we were about the same age and asked what school I would be attending. He told me I'd like St. Bartholomew School and promised to introduce me to his friends in our class. After we graduated in 62 we both attended NHS.  Jimmy brought me to my first prom, gave me my first corsage, and gave me my first driving lesson.  When I was at Mt. St. Mary College he came up to tell me he was going to VietNam;  he had a very real fear that he might not be coming home alive.  I had never heard Jimmy worry about anything and, not wanting to believe he could be right, I didn't listen to him with my heart; and told him he'd be home in a year with stories to tell about his heroics in the war.  When my Mom called the dorm to tell me Jimmy was MIA , I was absolutely heartsick.  Shortly after, my Mom called to tell me of Jimmy's funeral arrangements at the same church where we had been in the band, glee club,  and Catholic Youth Organization.  It was hard to imagine that Jimmy would not ever again be a part of the fabric of my life; he had always added such joy to everything we shared. As Jimmy's  mother read me the letter explaining the circumstances of his death I was extremely sad yet not surprised to learn that Jimmy had lost his life while protecting his friends from enemy fire.  I'm sure we would all agree - "No greater love than this then to give one's life for a friend".  Jimmy's heart was always full of love for God, family, and friends.  I am blessed to have shared the gift of his friendship during those formative years.  I'm sure he was welcomed into his heavenly home amidst trumpet blasts for a hero's welcome home.


03/14/16 12:52 PM #4    

John Hubley (Hubley)

My first friend in Needham, as he was to many. Open, sweet, and loyal, we kinda crushed the same unattainable girls for a while, just Valley guys who skated the swamp in winter.  He had the better snow ball arm in HS, so he got the trouble when actually hitting the bus at our morning stop.  Again, I skated.  His heroic death radicalized me back then, which continues today.  We all lost friends to that war, as did my daughters in Iraq and Afgan, but why does it seem the best go first? Jimmy, love ya kid, from "the other JH."  John (he called me Jack).  Every time I raise the flag above my house, I say to myself, "For Jimmy Heppler." 

03/21/16 12:58 PM #5    

Roland Coombs

Having our reunion at the Needham County Club brings back many summer memories with Jimmy while we were in college.   Jimmy had worked for many years at the club as caddy master (the guy who assigns the caddies to the members).  Jimmy put in a good word with the golf pro which allowed me to get a weekend job working in the pro shop.   The job entailed cleaning sets of golf clubs, computing men’s club tournaments and working behind the counter selling golf clothes & equipment.  Back in those days only golf professionals could sell quality golf balls (like Titlists, Maxflis & Pinnacles).  I will always remember a sleeve of three balls cost $3.75 plus $0.11 for that horrendous 3% sales tax.

One of the benefits of working at Needham Country Club besides the $1.25 per hour was the ability to play golf in the late afternoons after the members were done.  Jimmy was always in the middle organizing our afternoon competitions, which always involved a wager of some sort.  After golf, Jimmy frequently had a poker game lined up with a different group of guys.  At summer’s end Jimmy created the DO (Drunken Open).  The DO involved taking a shot of whiskey or other booze for each shot we took on the golf course.  I never made it past the second hole.  Luckily the third green of Needham Golf Club is right next to the clubhouse, so we never had very far to go to stagger off the course.  For many others, and myself Jimmy was our recreation director, personnel advisor and concierge all rolled into one.   I am always amazed how many people say Jimmy was a good friend or best friend, like there was more than one Jimmy.

Jimmy’s death in Vietnam was a big dose of reality for me.   The kid I grew up with in “The Valley”, played football with on the St. Bartholomew’s playgrounds, played church league basketball with and played hundreds rounds of golf with, was gone.  Vietnam was no longer that far away war.   It had a big influence on my decision to join the Olympia, Washington National Guard in 1971 about a week before I was drafted. 

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