January 12, 1973

Captain Michael J. Heck

c/o Heck

561 James Street

Chula Vista, California 92010

Dear Captain Heck,

This is simply to express my gratitude to you for your courage and clear-mindedness. Reading of your decision in today’s and yesterday’s paper renewed my rather flagging faith in the US’s better self. What you’ve done is the act of a patriot and will be remembered as such—have no doubt—when the Pentagon Chiefs’ names have long been forgotten. The decision must have been difficult, and that fact is appreciated most of all maybe by those who envy you the possibility of making it. Most of us aren’t in a position to refuse in our own person to bomb a civilian population and are painfully aware of being nothing more than horrified spectators. You’ve set an example. Not just to other pilots but to anybody who may be hesitating to take a principled and privately costly step in opposition to the bombing policy. If you can do it, why not they?

In your present situation (about which the newspapers give, so far, no details), you may be conscious of a certain isolation. If so, that is an illusion. Thousands, probably millions, all over the world must be thankful to you and eager to be of use to you in your defense in whatever way seems feasible. We owe you a debt. No doubt you will get many, many letters. In case this one doesn’t reach you I’m sending a copy to you in care of your parents with my admiration.


Mary McCarthy

Paris, France

This Issue

February 8, 1973