“Love” Found On The Tennis Courts: Reflections On Life As A West Point Spouse

Christine "Tina" (Kwossek) Heldman


Tina (Kwossek) Heldman was born in Oppeln, Germany (currently Opole, Poland) in Upper Silesia in April 1944 during World War II. Both of her parents were doctors, her mother a general practitioner and her father an ear, nose and throat specialist (ENT). They met while attending university. During the war, her father was obligated to serve in the Army and ended up in the Caucasus region. While serving on the eastern front, he was captured twice by the Soviets and escaped both times. She and her mother lived with her maternal grandmother. As the war drew to a close, Tina’s father had to evade the Soviets, the Poles, and the Germans as he traveled west, but he eventually reunited with his family and they settled in Würzburg in the American Sector. Tina’s memories of the time immediately after the war include nurses giving her eggs, receiving a red ball as a toy, and her first taste of licorice. Growing up, Tina loved listening to Elvis on the radio, and in college she studied Romance languages. In 1965, Tina was playing tennis at a club in Kitzingen, Germany, and she met James R. Heldman, USMA 62, who was serving in 2nd Battalion, 76th Field Artillery, 3rd Infantry Division. When Tina and Jim started dating, her father was not thrilled, but Jim was invited over for Christmas Dinner anyway. In March 1966, Jim returned to the States and Tina followed. They were married in June 1966 in Seattle, and less than a year later Jim deployed to Vietnam (April 1967). With Jim overseas, Tina moved to Seattle and attended the University of Washington, where she continued to study German and French before teaching languages in high school. She recalls the occasional MARS (Military Auxiliary Radio System) call from Vietnam, and meeting Jim in Hawaii on mid-tour leave. In April 1968, Jim left the Army and pursued a civilian career in computers. Tina was a high school teacher and tennis coach, and later she worked in corporate purchasing (Clorox and Del Monte) and real estate management. Throughout their lives together, Tina and Jim remained close to the members of the Class of 1962, especially those in H2, such as their good friend General Wayne Downing.


conflicts World War II Vietnam War Cold War
topics West Point History Camaraderie USMA 1962
interviewer David Siry
date 06 September 2023


name Christine "Tina" (Kwossek) Heldman
institution USMA
graduation year 1962
specialty Spouse of James Heldman USMA 62