1st Lt. Keith Heidtman - Norwich Soldier Dies In Helicopter Crash In Iraq



NORWICH, Conn. -- A helicopter crash in Iraq on Memorial Day claimed the life of a Norwich soldier, the governor's office said Tuesday.

Army 1st Lt. Keith Heidtman, 24, was the 37th military member with Connecticut ties to die since the war began in 2002. Two Connecticut civilians have also been killed. Gov. M. Jodi Rell ordered all state and U.S. flags lowered to half staff in Heidtman's honor.

"Lt. Heidtman made the ultimate sacrifice for all of us, and he did so to protect the freedom that we so often take for granted," Rell said in a statement. "To have given his life on Memorial Day is especially poignant."

Heidtman was one of 10 U.S. soldiers who died in roadside bombings and the helicopter crash on Monday, the military reported, making May the deadliest month of the year for U.S. troops in Iraq.

The American deaths raised the number of U.S. forces killed this month to at least 112, according to an Associated Press count assembled from U.S. military statements.

Eight of the soldiers were from Task Force Lightning -- six killed when explosions hit near their vehicles and two in a helicopter crash. The military did not say if the helicopter was shot down or had mechanical problems.

Heidtman was a 2001 graduate of Norwich Free Academy and a graduate of the University of Connecticut.

His parents were notified Tuesday morning. He was the son of Kerry Heidtman and Maureen Robidoux. His stepfather is Art Robidoux. A phone message from The Associated Press was left at his family's home.

"If you had to pick your son, this is who you would pick. He was handsome, he was bright," Kerry Heidtman told The Day of New London.

Heidtman arrived in Iraq in December and was scheduled to come home for leave in July.

"We're sending our finest, and we're losing them," Kerry Heidtman said.

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 Wake For Norwich Soldier Killed In Action

by News Channel 8's Tina Detelj
Posted June 7, 2007
5:25 PM

(Norwich-WTNH) _ First Lieutenant Keith Heidtman's helicopter crashed after coming under heavy fire in Iraq on Memorial Day, and today hundreds turned out to pay their last respect.

Army Lt. Heidtman's days at Norwich Free Academy held great promise for the athletic and academic star, but now the campus is mourning the loss of an alum who reached the heights of heroism.

"I guess I can't overcome the feeling that it's tremendously sad," said Dr. Mark Cohan of Norwich Free Academy.

Norwich Free Academy is holding his wake in their gymnasium to accommodate what is expected to be a huge crowd.

"It's nice to be able to bring him home and do it here," said Paul Iovino of Norwich Free Academy.

That sentiment is also shared by students.

"The fact that our school is doing all this for him tonight is really amazing and I think his family really appreciates it," said student Heather Angell.

Lt. Hiedtman was born and raised in Norwich, so even in his young 24-years he touched many in the community. He was a star player at Norwich Free Academy and came back to teach younger players during summer camp. The flags at Norwich's Little League complex are still flying at half-staff.

Funeral services are Friday at St. Patrick's Cathedral in Norwich.