Former USP-Alcatraz ‘Guard’ and Author – Frank Heaney – Still ‘Working’ on ‘the Rock’ – 63 years later!
This former ‘Screw’ was so feared – that not even one escape-attempt occurred during this young officer’s ‘time on the Rock’!
In 1948, at age 21, Frank Heaney was hired by Warden Swope as the youngest Correctional Officer (the proper term) ever to work in the United States Federal Penitentiary – Alcatraz.
As a Utility Officer, Heaney worked a variety of duties which included the dreaded shower-room detail, and manning the heavily armed Gun Towers – where he guarded such ‘public enemies’ as Alvin ‘Kreepy’ Karpis, George ‘Machine-Gun’ Kelly and Robert ‘the Birdman’ Stroud.
Leaving USP-Alcatraz in 1951 for the Korean conflict, as a member of the United States Coast Guard, followed by a short 27-year stint with the Albany Fire Department, Frank Heaney would return to the island as a National Park Ranger in 1974. Lured away by the Red & White Fleet, Mr. Heaney then created yet another career – in public relations – appearing on Larry King Live, Oprah Winfrey, and the Today Show. More recently, Frank worked with John Walsh on America’s Most Wanted and appeared in 2010 on the Discovery Channel’s Ghost Lab. (evidently, even the ghosts were afraid – as Frank says he’s never ‘seen’ any on the island … )
Author of ‘Inside the Walls of Alcatraz’, Mr. Heaney visits the third Saturday of each month for ‘Dock Talks’ for the first two vessels in the morning – then is available for book-signings in the Cell-house basement bookstore. (next date: Saturday, February 19, 2011)
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