Manoog T. Heditsian

  • Sergeant
  • WW II


Manoog “Manny” Heditsian was born in Providence, RI in 1922. He graduated from Central High School where he was a star guard on the football team playing both offense and defense. He was named to the All-Rhode Island Football Eleven, the 1939 Rhode Island All State Football Team, and won letters in football, tennis and basketball.

Manny enrolled in the University of Rhode Island in 1941. A versatile athlete, he lettered in football and tennis being undefeated in singles tennis his junior and senior years. He was a member of the Army ROTC Program and served as Business Manager of the yearbook, the GRIST; class Vice President; Social Chairman; Vice President of Phi Mu Delta Fraternity; and President of the URI CLUB, the men’s sports honorary organization.

Following in his father’s footsteps who volunteered to serve in the 103rd Field Artillery during WWI under Colonel Everett S. J. Chaffee (later General Chaffee), Manny enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1943 and was called to immediate WWII active service in March of that year. He left from Fort Devens, Massachusetts for 12 weeks of basic training in Miami along with 35 fellow students from URI who had also enlisted. He believed that his ROTC background prepared him well, so he “knew what to expect.” After Basic Training, he felt that he was “in the best shape of my life.”

Manny showed talent as a patrol leader and was asked to stay on in that position to train other soldiers. However, due to the strong bond he felt with his URI classmates, he decided to move on with them to the Engineering and Operations School at Colorado State College of Education in Greeley, Colorado. There they trained to operate air traffic control towers in theaters of the war. After they completed training, they were sent to Albuquerque to join an Air Service Squadron. Nine months after joining the service, they shipped out with 10,000 troops in a converted Italian cruise ship which zigzagged across the Pacific stopping in Bora Bora and Perth, Australia, reaching Bombay, India six weeks later. They took rail to Calcutta, then trucked to Asam and stayed six weeks to erect tents.

Then they flew over the Himalayas (the Hump) to Kunming, the capital and largest city of Yunnan province in southwest China where they were stationed at the Chengkung Air Base and transport terminus for the Burma Road, an important and famous Allied supply route to China. As part of the Fourteenth Air Force, General Chenault’s Flying Tigers, their job was to supply the CBI (China/Southeast Asia-Burma-India Military Theater) with parts for fighter planes, specifically P37 Allison Hawks, P40 War Hawks, P51 Mustang Fighters and B24 Liberators. “The Japanese were just 20 miles from the base, and once a month they would come and drop their bombs.”

Manny Heditsian was promoted to Sergeant due to his outstanding performance of duty and leadership abilities. In December 1945, Manny was awarded the China Offensive and China Defensive Service Ribbons. He returned to the University of Rhode Island to complete his studies and graduated from URI in 1947 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration.

Manny credits his URI professors with providing invaluable guidance and inspiration. Finance Professor Robert Rockefeller “brilliantly” taught him finance theory; Dean Ballentine, with a background in industry, “made facts come alive and stressed the importance of being able to relate well to people;” and Herbert M. Hofford, his freshman composition professor, provided him a lifelong love of reading, writing, and speaking.

After graduation, Manny began a storied career of more than fifty years, serving as a financial planner and life insurance advisor at MassMutual. He earned a Chartered Life Underwriter designation, a lifetime membership in the Million Dollar Roundtable, was president of the RI Life Underwriters Association, and President of the Estate Planning Council of RI. Manny was named Rhode Island Life Insurance Agent of the Year and was the recipient of the R. Kelly Sheridan Award in 1977 for outstanding service to his profession and community.

Ever an active alumni, he served as the University’s Alumni Association president in 1981 and joined the URI Foundation in 1982, serving on the Faculty and Competitive Grants Committee. Six years after joining the Foundation, he became a member of the Executive Board, serving as Vice President. He would remain on the Executive Board for 28 years. In 1989 he assumed the Chairmanship of a new Foundation committee–Planning and Evaluations, which examined and evaluated the work of the Foundation, striving for continuous improvement. Additionally, he served on three University basketball coach search committees. He was inducted into the URI Athletic Hall of Fame in 1991 for both football and tennis. Manny was a recipient of the Alumni Association’s RAM Award that recognizes unselfish dedication for efforts toward the betterment of the Alumni Association and the University as a whole for a minimum of 25 years.

Manny was an avid golfer from college through age 95. In 1961, he became a founding member of Quidnessett Country Club and remained active there until his death. Sergeant Manoog T. Heditsian died in 2018. Manoog was predeceased by his wife Isabel and is survived by his daughters, Louise and Diane, sons Robert and Donald (also a URI graduate), seven grandchildren and one great grandson.

Manny Heditsian’s outstanding leadership and innovation as well as devotion to the military, his businesses, and communities reflect great credit upon himself, his family, our nation and the University of Rhode Island.