Face of Defense: Grandson Continues ‘Band of Brothers’ Tradition

FORT BRAGG, N.C., Dec. 14, 2010 — Even at 80 years old, Fred­er­ick “Moose” Heyliger was an enor­mous man, accord­ing to his grand­son, who serves with the 82nd Air­borne Division’s 1st Brigade.

Army 1st Sgt. Mark Heyliger stands before a C-17 Globemaster III prior to an airborne training operation Dec. 1, 2010, at Fort Bragg, N.C. When he enlisted in 1992, Heyliger knew little about the World War II exploits of his grandfather, Army 1st Lt. Frederick
Army 1st Sgt. Mark Heyliger stands before a C‑17 Globe­mas­ter III pri­or to an air­borne train­ing oper­a­tion Dec. 1, 2010, at Fort Bragg, N.C. When he enlist­ed in 1992, Heyliger knew lit­tle about the World War II exploits of his grand­fa­ther, Army 1st Lt. Fred­er­ick “Moose” Heyliger, until he read Stephen Ambrose’s book, “Band of Broth­ers.”
U.S. Army pho­to by Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod
Click to enlarge

Army 1st Sgt. Mark D. Heyliger, first sergeant of Com­pa­ny B, 1st Bat­tal­ion, 504th Para­chute Infantry Reg­i­ment, often is asked by young sol­diers who “put 2 and 2 togeth­er” whether he knows “that guy in that movie,” and he says he does. 

Heyliger, a vet­er­an of five deploy­ments, learned of his grandfather’s World War II exploits as a first lieu­tenant with Easy Com­pa­ny, 506th Para­chute Infantry Reg­i­ment, of the 101st Air­borne Divi­sion “Scream­ing Eagles” the same way the rest of Amer­i­ca did –- by read­ing the book and see­ing the HBO mini-series, “Band of Broth­ers.” The grand­fa­ther Heylinger knew had earned a degree in orna­men­tal hor­ti­cul­ture and he sold fer­til­iz­er, among oth­er jobs. He was a bit of a wan­der­er, with a grand plan to own an acre of land in every state so he could trav­el and camp all the time. 

“I’d always known my grand­fa­ther served in the Army, and I knew that he had loved it, but he nev­er talked about what he did dur­ing the war,” he said. “My dad mailed me a book while I was on recruit­ing duty. He said, ‘If you ever want to know what your grand­fa­ther did, you need to read the book.’ ” 

That was nine years into the South Bend, Ind., native’s Army career. When he enlist­ed in 1992, he became the first Heyliger in two gen­er­a­tions to serve. “[My father] was always wor­ried about hav­ing anoth­er fight­ing man in the fam­i­ly,” he said. 

After serv­ing in Hawaii with the 25th Infantry Divi­sion, with the 101st, and as a recruiter, Heyliger came to the All-Amer­i­can Divi­sion in 2002. Since then, he has served three deploy­ments to Iraq and two to Afghanistan. 

Though Moose Heyliger nev­er lived to see his grand­son become a para­troop­er, his jump wings were pinned on Mark when he grad­u­at­ed from Air­borne School. 

“I looked pret­ty sil­ly, because I was the only novice para­troop­er run­ning around with two com­bat jump stars on his wings,” the first sergeant said. 

In 2004, wear­ing his grandfather’s wings, Mark jumped into St. Mere Eglise, France, in com­mem­o­ra­tion of the 60th anniver­sary of the Nor­mandy inva­sion. Now, those wings sit in a box wait­ing to see what the youngest Heyliger, 11-year-old Kiefer, will do. 

“I’m glad to serve and to car­ry on, to find what my grand­fa­ther enjoyed so much about the Army,” the first sergeant said. “When I jump, I like to think of him. What keeps me in the Army, though, is the peo­ple. The next gen­er­a­tion of young guys is what keeps me going.” 

Heyliger will spend the next three years at the Joint Readi­ness Train­ing Cen­ter at Fort Polk, La. After that, he said, he would like to fin­ish his career either back at 82nd or with the 101st in his grandfather’s reg­i­ment, the 506th “Band of Brothers.” 

“I always want­ed to be air­borne,” he said. 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

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