Almost 40 years after his death, the remains of Heinz Ahlmeyer, a 1966 alumnus of the State University of New York at New Paltz, have been recovered in Vietnam. He was killed in action on May 10, 1967, less than one year after graduating.
On May 10, 1967, only one day into his tour of duty, Marine Corps 2nd Lt. Ahlmeyer's long-range reconnaissance patrol was placed behind enemy lines and was quickly overtaken by the North Vietnamese Army. Only three men of the original team could be extracted by helicopter, which after 12 hours and four attempted rescues, was forced to leave Ahlmeyer and three other fallen comrades behind, according to Pfc. Steve Lopez, one of the three survivors of the mission.
This spring, college representatives, as well as Ahlmeyer's former New Paltz soccer coach, Al Miller, and several members of his soccer team will travel to Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, for Ahlmeyer's burial with military honors.
Ahlmeyer was a celebrated New Paltz athlete who inspired his fellow athletes with his hard work, amazed his coaches with his determination and touched the college with his kindness. Because of his impact on the New Paltz community, an award was created in his honor.
"The New Paltz college community was clearly enriched by Heinz Ahlmeyer's presence on this campus," said Steven Poskanzer, president of SUNY New Paltz. "He touched so many lives here and is remembered with great affection and honor. We hope that what we do now can convey our gratitude to his family and ensure that his spirit will always be very much alive at New Paltz."
In addition, this October during Alumni Weekend, the college will honor Ahlmeyer's memory at a special ceremony that will include members of his 1965 soccer team. Ironically, the discovery of Ahlmeyer's remains coincides with the 40th anniversary of his team's 1965 championship victory. The event will be held in recognition of his service to the college community and to his country.
Thirty-eight years ago, when the news of Ahlmeyer's assumed death reached New Paltz, his classmates rallied together to create a permanent memorial in his name - The Heinz Ahlmeyer Award. This athletic award was developed to perpetuate the memory of Ahlmeyer and is presented every spring by the Department of Athletics, Intramurals and Recreation to the one student athlete whose dedication, perseverance and service beyond self has been an inspiration to both his/her teammates and fellow students.
"It is considered the most prestigious honor to be bestowed upon any athlete at New Paltz," said Stuart Robinson, director of athletics, intramurals and recreation, "and speaks of one's ability to completely dedicate him/herself to the team, giving everything despite the outcome, not only in competition, but also in every aspect of student life."