Monday, March 17, 2014

This is no longer the address for my blog posts

Sorry--this is no longer the address for my blog posts.
Please go to:

and click on "BLOG" to view my latest posts. Please save this URL among your "Favorites" and go there often.

Thank you!!
Charles Ota Heller

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Czech saboteurs in World War II


In my book, Prague: My Long Journey Home, I write about Czech collaborators with the Nazis and the Svejks--those who simply stood by and did nothing. But there were also many Czechs who resisted and who provided assistance to the Allies via clandestine activities. One doesn't often hear about such resistance coming from those Czechs who were most repressed--Jewish concentration and slave labor camp prisoners. My friend Paul Laric sent me a story which describes one such heroic act, as submitted to a Naval Academy alumni website by one of Paul's classmates, Mickey Gassow:

“Elmer Bendiner was a B-17 navigator during WWII. He tells the story of a bombing run over Kassel, Germany, and the unexpected result of a direct hit on their gas tanks. “Our B-17, the Tondelayo, was barraged by flak from Nazi antiaircraft guns. That was typical, but on this particular occasion our gas tanks were hit. Later, as I reflected on the miracle of a 20 millimeter shell piercing the fuel tank without touching off an explosion, our pilot, Bohn Fawkes, told me it was more complicated. On the morning following the raid, Bohn asked our crew chief for that shell as a souvenir of our unbelievable luck. The crew chief told Bohn that, in addition to that shell, another 11 were found in the gas tanks. Eleven unexploded shells where only one was sufficient to blast us out of the sky. It was as if the sea had parted for us. A near-miracle, I thought. Even after 35 years, this awesome event leaves me shaken, especially after I heard the rest of the story from Bohn. Bohn was told that the shells were sent to the armorers to be defused. The armorers told him that Intelligence had then picked them up. They couldn't say why at the time, but Bohn eventually sought out the answer. Apparently when the armorers opened each of those shells, they found no explosive charge. They were clean as a whistle and just as harmless. Empty? Not all of them! One contained a carefully rolled piece of paper with a scrawled message in Czech. The Intelligence people scoured our base for a man who could read Czech. Eventually they found one to decipher the note. It was amazing! Translated, the note read: "This is all we can do for you now. Using Jewish slave labor is never a good idea."

Sunday, December 15, 2013

A Heisman disappointment

I feel a personal connection to this year's two anniversaries of the Heisman trophy--the award presented to the season's best collegiate football player. Fifty years ago, I was a young, first-year, professor at the U. S. Naval Academy. One of my students was a midshipman named Roger Staubach, the recipient of the 1963 Heisman for his heroics as Navy's quarterback. Twenty-five years ago, a fellow wearing America's brightest orange of my alma mater, Oklahoma State University, became the most prolific and exciting running back in the history of football. His name is Barry Sanders. What did the two have in common, besides their excellence on the field and this year celebrating--respectively--their gold and silver anniversaries? Both are classy, humble individuals who let their accomplishments speak for them.

Last night, we watched a young man of a different sort make his acceptance speech. Jameis Winston had, until recently, lived under the cloud of having been accused of rape. After stalling for months, the authorities announced a few days ago that they did not have sufficient evidence to indict him. However, the alleged victim's family has announced that it will continue to press for a different resolution; Winston's problems have not ended. I've watched the Heisman presentations for many years. Each time, I've seen the winner shake the hands of the competitors over whom he has been chosen and praise them in his acceptance speech. Not Winston. Perhaps as a product of his generation, he was only about "me, me, me." A far cry from role models such as Roger Staubach and Barry Sanders.

So, if I'd had a vote for the 2013 Heisman, for whom would I have voted? In first place, Andre Williams; in second place, Keenan Reynolds. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Oklahoma State University Cowboys--So Proud!!

What a week this has been for Oklahoma State athletics! On Tuesday, our top-ten men's basketball team ripped through #11-ranked Memphis by 21 points--putting up 101 points against them. On Friday, our nationally-ranked Cowgirls' basketball squad demolished the University of Southern California by 31 points.

Then came last night. We faced the third-ranked Baylor Bears, with the #1 offense and #10 defense in the country, the top candidate for the Heisman Trophy at quarterback, and ambitions to win the national championship. We ripped them for 49 points and allowed their offense--one which had averaged 61 points per game--a measly 17 points. What a team effort, and what a great job of coaching! If it hadn't been for that horrible day in Morgantown, West Virginia, when our Cowboys went to sleep (and left the fabulous QB Clint Chelf sitting on the bench) and lost our only game of the year, we would be sitting on top of the national rankings today.

Beat OU!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Helping to commemorate 75th anniversary of Krystallnacht, the "Night of Broken Glass"

I feel honored to have been asked to speak about my book and my experiences as one of Europe's "hidden children" at the commemoration of that horrible event known as "Krystallnacht," or "Night of Broken Glass." The following is the announcement of the event--an invitation to all readers to come and join us.

ANNAPOLIS — On Sunday, Nov. 10, at 10:30 a.m., Congregation Kneseth Israel presents an author lecture and book signing by Charles Heller to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht. Author Charles Heller, will share his riveting adventure and moving recollection of a loving family nearly destroyed by the Nazis. The book, "Prague: My Long Journey Home," is a personal account of a long journey of persecution, struggle and survival in Nazi and Communist controlled Czechoslovakia, and eventual escape from tyranny to freedom in America. A bagel brunch will accompany the event. The cost of the event is $8.

Charles O. Heller’s career has consisted of phases as: engineer, educator, entrepreneur, venture capitalist, management consultant, and author. Today, he is President of Annapolis Capital Group, a management consulting and investment firm. He is the author of two memoirs: "Prague: My Long Journey Home" (2011) and "Name-Droppings: Close Encounters with the Famous and Near-Famous" (2013). He is writing two additional memoirs. Heller is married, has one son and three grandchildren, and resides in Annapolis with his wife Susan. He played Division-I college basketball, as well as club soccer and volleyball; today, he is an avid golfer, skier, boater, hiker, and writer. He is a member of the Annapolis Yacht Club, The Country Club at Woodmore, the CEO Investment Club, Maryland Writers’ Association, Authors Guild, Rotary Club of Annapolis (Paul Harris Fellow), and Omicron Delta Kappa (leadership honor society).

Kristallnacht (“Night of Broken Glass”), was a series of attacks against Jews in Germany and Austria. On Nov. 9–10, 1938 thousands of Jewish homes, shops, schools and synagogues were ransacked and destroyed, leaving the streets covered in pieces of smashed windows—the origin of the name “Night of Broken Glass.” The year 2013 marks the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht.





Thursday, October 3, 2013

Charles Ota Heller: "Name-droppings: Close Encounters with the Famous ...

Charles Ota Heller: "Name-droppings: Close Encounters with the Famous ...: I'm happy to announce that my newest book is now available, both as a soft-cover (list: $11.99) and an e-book ($2.99), directly from t...

"Name-droppings: Close Encounters with the Famous and Near-Famous" is out!

I'm happy to announce that my newest book is now available, both as a soft-cover (list: $11.99) and an e-book ($2.99), directly from the publisher, Abbott, or It’s a short read (128 pages), and I hope you will spend an evening or two reading it and enjoying it. You’ll find it a departure from my first book, Prague: My Long Journey Home. The famous and near-famous whose names I drop in the book are (in alphabetical order):

Bill Clinton (and Monica Lewinsky)
Michael Dingman
Larry Doby
Clint Eastwood
Andy Enfield
Jay Geils (and Jack Geils)
Henry Iba
Don Klosterman
Viktor Kožený
Helen O’Connell
Carroll Rosenbloom
Wernher Von Braun
Earl Weaver
Philip Van Horn Weems
Dr. Ruth Westheimer

The following is Abbott Press’ “teaser” about the book:

Captured in this short, yet unique, memoir are Charles Ota Heller’s myriad encounters with celebrities from various walks of life—business, politics, sports, entertainment, science.  How did Clint Eastwood spend his Thursday evenings? What caused one of America’s greatest basketball coaches to scream the “n-word” at the author? How did Heller become an early witness to the Clinton-Lewinsky affair? Why did jazz singer Helen O’Connell proposition the young, innocent Charlie Heller? What led the author to insult the leader of America’s space program? How did Heller and a TV star/sex therapist develop immediate rapport? How did the author and the leader of the J. Geils Band become friends? These are some of the interesting vignettes told by Charles Ota Heller, a former CEO entrepreneur, educator, venture capitalist, athlete, and engineer who came to America as an immigrant from Czechoslovakia at the age of thirteen and who now looks back at a life of chasing the proverbial American Dream and the famous and near-famous he met along the way.