More than two decades ago, a west Jefferson veteran personally wrote to former president George H. W. Bush, wanting to thank him for his service. What he never imagined was that he would get a letter in return.
"The admiration and I just thought I need to get a note off to him and let him know what I was thinking. My respect for him as a veteran and I'm a veteran and maybe there was a little bit of a shared brotherhood in that," said the Air Force veteran Gary Heiman.
The letter is dated August 28, 1998:
"Dear President Bush, Earlier this evening my wife informed me that you were to be on A&E. I'm very happy that she did as I took the two hours you shared of yourself with total enjoyment and good memories. Thank you very much for your wonderful service to our country and the fine example you have provided us with. May all your putts be true to the mark, and only the big fish strike at your bait.
Very Best Wishes, Gary Heiman
Gary said the 1998 A&E documentary, “George Bush: A President’s Story” shined a light into the intimate life of the former president and there's one part of the documentary he will never forget: his sense of humor. "As he was being pulled out of the water and into the submarine he said, 'I was a skinny, little wretched, then,’ I remember laughing about that one. That was pretty cool,” said Heiman.
Something else he wont forget? When the former president actually responded to his letter, four weeks later.
"I thought immediately when I saw it, I said whoa! he's writing me back,” he lauged.
Both letters, hang on his wall, along with his memories of when he served in the military. On September 14, 1998, the former president wrote to Gary:
"Dear Gary, Thanks so much for writing about the A&E program. I thought David Frost did a fine job. He is very fair and does not try to slip in a curve ball or two. I am glad to have this program as a permanent part of our archives at my Library at Texas A&M. I am delighted you liked the show and your kind words mean a great deal to me.
Sincerely, George Bush”
Heiman said the part where the president said “your kind words mean a great deal to me” was very emotional and a proud moment he will forever treasure.
“Yeah, it's good to have,” Heiman stated as he admired the letter.
Especially now as the former president is laid to rest.