Douglas Charles Hecla
May 28, 1947 – December 30, 2016
We lost a true hero and a kind, gentle soul of a man during the last days of a year when many others also departed.
Doug was born in Grand Coulee, WA, on May 28, 1947. He lost his father dramatically as a pre-teen and was drafted into the Army infantry upon his graduation from Everett High school in 1965.
Wounded in combat, Doug was decorated for valor during many intense battles. His mother waited at the airport for his return, worried until finally the last soldier walked in, and that was Doug. In civilian clothes, he wanted to avoid the embarrassment of confronting war protesters.
Shortly afterward, he secluded himself in a wooded logging camp in Forks, where he attended the local college and became a heavy equipment and diesel specialist.
Doug returned to the Arlington area and built a home in the countryside, where he resided for the rest of his life. He was very reclusive and didn’t speak much of his accomplishments. The stories about Vietnam are well documented, and many have surfaced in recent years. He intervened and refused to drop explosives into an underground tunnel after they invaded an enemy camp. After opening the metal lid with his rifle, he discovered a woman guarding infants. This type of selfless act was repeated in 1980, when Doug entered a burning home with three small children inside. He and one child were burned but immediately, upon delivering them to their mother, Doug disappeared quietly into the night. The woman searched tirelessly for this anonymous Samaritan for more than three decades, and then through a common friend was finally able to make contact and express her gratitude.
Again, Doug wanted no recognition or acknowledgement for the lives he saved.
Doug was preceded in death by an older brother, Wallace.
He is survived by his younger brother, Keith, also a disabled veteran from the Vietnam conflict, and older brother, Curt. He is also survived by many nieces and nephews who will always fondly remember their sweet “Uncle Doug”. He also had a special place in his heart for his dogs, and those who shared his life over the years were indeed fortunate.
Doug’s family wishes to extend a special thanks to Jan Bauer, who made Doug’s recent years especially meaningful, full of laughter and nourishing meals. Doug confided to her that he was ready to go, but his only regret was never having done anything “significant” during his lifetime. It’s clearly evident why his friends and family strongly disagree. Doug will always be admired for his heroism, selflessness and kindness that the rest of us can only aspire to emulate in our own lives.