Richard Heckmann was born in Ohio, and he lived there until he was 9 years old. When he turned 9, his dad received a civil engineering job in Washington D.C., so they moved there soon after. After this, they then moved to Maryland. Richard explains that he was a sickly child, and he was once in a coma for 10 days when he was just 7 years old. Growing up, he became more healthy and ended up going to Johns Hopkins University and graduated with an Engineering Science degree. Richard eventually accepted a commission in the ordinance corp, and he went to Fort Bliss for a guided missile school. He spent two years in the autillery there. At Fort Bliss, he received his private pilot's license while he was in the service. Then, they took Richard back to the ordinance corp. and they sent him down to the Redstone Arsenal, where he got stationed. After this career, Richard worked as a project engineer for the manufacturing for hardware at Thiokol. He then transferred to Hayes Industry, and he worked with the manufacturing engineering lab at the Marshall Space Flight Center. There, he worked on the Apollo Applications Program.