CDR Harry A. Heatley, USN (Ret.)

ENS Heatley became a Naval Aviator at HT-18, NAS Whitting Field, Milton, Florida on March 28, 1980. ENS Heatley was Navy Helicopter Pilot Designator Number R-15356.

Commander Harry “the Hat” Heatley is the son of Charles and Marjory Heatley, born and raised in Allentown, Pennsylvania. He earned his commission through NROTC at the University of Colorado where he graduated in 1978 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and was commissioned on 26 May 1978. He was stashed for six months in San Diego at TOPGUN, Navy Fighter Weapons School while awaiting Flight School training in Pensacola. He earned his Wings of Gold from HT-18 on 15 April 1980, pinned on by his then girlfriend Kim. 

Following flight school he reported to HS-1 in Jacksonville, FL, where he received training in the SH-3G Sea King with a follow-on tour with HS-1 Sea Component including six-month cruises to the Persian Gulf on the USS Coronado and in Gaeta, Italy aboard the USS Puget Sound. His second J.O. tour was with HT-8 from June 1983 to Feb 1986. 

He returned to HS-1 to earn a warfare specialty in Antisubmarine Warfare, and then reported to HS-9 from Aug 1986 to Dec 1988 and made a Med cruise on the USS Nimitz. He returned to HS-1 as the AIRLANT SH-3 NATOPS Evaluator and stood up the first HS Strike Rescue/Combat SAR School on the East Coast within HS-1. 

He moved down the sea wall to HS-17 for his Dept Head tour in Dec 1989, but that tour was cut short to deploy to the Red Sea aboard the USS Saratoga in July 1990 for Desert Shield and Desert Storm as the Maintenance Officer of HS-3. 

Upon return, HS-3 was the first East Coast HS squadron to transition to the SH-60F where he served as the Ops Officer. CDR Heatley earned his Masters Degree at the Naval War College in June 1993 after which he served three years at US Space Command in Colorado Springs, CO from 1993-1996.  In August 1996 CDR Heatley moved his family to London, England, for a four-year NATO tour in CINCEASTLANT at HMS Warrior.  

He returned in 2000 to Naval Aviation Schools Command as the Director of the Aviation Enlisted Aircrew School and the CRM Instructor School. He then finished his career at NAS Whiting Field as the TW-5 Aviation Safety Officer and TH-57Instructor Pilot. He has flown over 4,500 hours, mostly in the SH3 and the TH-57 helicopters. 

CDR Heatley’s awards include: The Defense Meritorious Service Medal (2), the Air Medal (one Strike Flight), the Navy Commendation Medal, the Navy Achievement medal, the Navy Expeditionary Medal (2), The National Defense Service Medal (2), the Global war on Terrorism service medal, the Kuwaiti Liberation Medal, and the Southwest Asia Medal.  

 After CDR Heatley’s 28 years of service to the Navy, he spent the next three years as the Chief Pilot for the Air Unit at Escambia County Sheriff’s Office.  

He taught an NJROTC class at Escambia High School in Alabama, before earning his teaching certification in math and science.  The next three years he taught Algebra 1 and Biology at Gulf Breeze High School.  He continued his love for teaching at Holley Navarre Middle School (8th grade Science classes) before completely retiring in 2022.  He resided in Gulf Breeze.  

Harry was fun!  The laughter in his voice resonated so well you could hear him across any crowded room and know that “Heatley” was there. His competitive spirit was in everything he did, whether it was sports, Pictionary, Poker, Corn Hole or cheating at Scrabble with a secret stash of extra letters, any challenge, and Harry was in for the win.  His gym work-out ethic was fierce, 3 times a week for 3 hours at a time, his actual work- out was half that since he spent the other half chatting.  

Harry loved to dance and sing. He could be seen in his yard on his riding mower, shirtless with headphones singing his head off.  He loved planting flowers. However, weeding was not a skill set known to him. 

His love of music and laughter paled in comparison to the love he had for his four children and two grandchildren.  Harry was the proud Dad, attending his daughter Brynne’s singing gigs and would not miss any performance. He was her # 1 fan.  He loved sunsets and strolling along the beach pier with Kim.  

He loved golfing with his buddies even if his golf didn’t love him.  He made friends all over the world and in all walks of life. 

Harry was a Christian, Retired Navy Commander, Helicopter pilot, Veteran, Patriot, Schoolteacher, Coach, Snow Skier, Football Player (a walk-on at the University of Colorado, Boulder), Rugby and Basketball player, Golden Glove Boxer, Bowler, Karaoke singer extraordinaire and avid Eagles fan.   

He spent his last day busily doing everything he loved….it was a good day; his heart just couldn’t keep up.  He loved this country, he loved his family, he loved his friends, he loved his life! 

 He is survived by his wife Kim, his daughters Brooke (Amit) and Brynne, and sons Ben and Brett (CJ), grandchildren Sage and Imogen, his mother Marjory Heatley, Brother Charles ‘Heater’ Heatley, sisters Catherine Sechler, Cindy Sommers and Heather Yany.