December 9 – Happy Birthday Christopher Heffernan, Jr.

heffernan222In April of 1945, after three years of not knowing if his only son, an Army captain serving in the Philippines was alive or dead, New York State Supreme Court Justice Christopher J. Heffernan received a ray of hope. It came to him in a very informal and indirect way but it came to him none-the-less. The Judge was told that an officer who had been imprisoned in Manila by the Japanese forces who had invaded the islands shortly after Pearl Harbor had been attacked, had met another prisoner who supposedly told him he had seen Christopher J. Heffernan, Jr. alive as late as November of 1944. One can only imagine the sense of hope and excitement that must have permeated the Judge’s Market Street home, when he told his wife and the youngest of his four daughters that their beloved son and brother might be alive. But then, just a few weeks later on Flag Day, 1945, a letter came from the War Department confirming once and for all that Captain Heffernan had died of malaria in a Japanese prison camp in April of 1942.

That meant this promising young graduate of St. Mary’s Institute and the West Point Military Academy had made the Supreme sacrifice for his country before reaching the age of 24. In the brand new second edition of A Year’s Worth of Amsterdam NY Birthdays I share an eloquent tribute written for this gallant young Amsterdam native by an anonymous West Point classmate.

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