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Peter T. Heuchling '06


8 Apr 1984 - 21 Aug 2003
Died at West Point, NY • Interred in Durham Town Cemetery, Durham, NH

 

Peter Todd Heuchling was born in Dover, NH, and lived his entire life at his home on Adams Circle, Durham, NH, with his older brother, Rob, a Naval Reserve officer; his father, Bob, a retired Delta Air Lines captain and presently a high school coach and teacher; and his mother, Sally, a teacher, active volunteer and dedicated mom who now works with special education students at the local middle school.

Todd's early childhood was very typical of a boy growing up in a small New Hampshire town. He enjoyed the woods, riding bikes, and playing sports with his friends. He was an average athlete as a young boy, although as he emerged from his preteen years, Todd experienced a metamorphosis. He rapidly grew taller and stronger and began to excel at every sport he attempted. By his sophomore year in high school, he was playing varsity soccer, hockey, and tennis. By the end of his senior year, his soccer team had won two state titles, and he was selected as Most Valuable Player in the state championship game by the coaches. His hockey team was always competitive but did not enjoy as much success. Nonetheless, he was awarded "Best Defenseman" his senior year. As a gesture of respect and admiration for Todd, Oyster River High School has since retired his #18 hockey jersey. Todd also captained the tennis team and took it to the state finals, where the team lost by a single match.

As Todd began to mature physically, he also soared academically. He particularly enjoyed history, science, and writing for the school newspaper. At this time, he also began showing an interest in attending West Point. He read all the material he could find on the latest military hardware, tactics, and training. After his first visit to West Point, he realized this was to be his destiny and gaining admission became his top priority. He would probably feel it was the greatest accomplishment in his life.

In spite of the typical struggles as a plebe, he still managed to do well academically and militarily his first year. He was singled out as one of the top plebes in his class by the end of the first semester. He also helped coach the local girls' under-14 soccer team, and he was a member of the Company D-4 Sandhurst Military Competition Skills Team.

At Camp Buckner he excelled by earning his Recondo badge. His fellow cadets at Buckner said you could always find Todd up among the leaders, but he was ever mindful to take care of his friends behind him. He always enjoyed running, but it was while at the Academy he took his running skills to a new level. He was invited to try out for the marathon team, since he was winning all the competitive company races.

It was hot and humid on the afternoon of 21 Aug 2003, the day that was to become the saddest day of our lives. It was the final day of tryouts for the marathon team, and Todd was not to be denied. Todd had an incredible ability to focus on a goal and put everything else out of his mind. At the end of the eight mile competition, Todd was running with the leaders when, less than 100 yards from the finish line, he collapsed and succumbed to heat stroke. He could not be revived.

Todd was laid to rest five days later in the Durham Town Cemetery. His body was accompanied by Commandant of Cadets BG Leo Brooks, 80 West Point cadets, and 500 family members and friends.

In his honor, a scholarship fund in his name has been established and will award $5,000 annually to a senior at Oyster River High School. An annual award also has been established and endowed to recognize an outstanding West Point team member.

His headstone reads:

Peter Todd Heuchling, Cadet,
USMA, Class of 2006,
Beloved son, brother, friend
and a good soldier.

His friends, bothers, parents, and fellow soldiers and classmates will forever remember him fondly.

Sally and Bob Heuchling