Hometown Heroes




2023 Hometown Hero Banner Program 

The mission of the Marengo Union Chamber of Commerce is to recognize our Hometown Heroes who are serving now, have served, and who are departed. We are not limited to service members for the forthcoming years.  All banners are the property of the Marengo Union Chamber of Commerce unless they have been specifically purchased by the family.  These banners have been printed locally by Marengo Signs and stitched by HyperStitch.  

Each Hero has had the biography written and provided by a family member and have not been fact checked.    

Thank you for taking the time to read about our very own heroes.  We hope you have enjoyed the first of many years to come.  For more information and to purchase a banner for your 2024 Hometown Hero, please call the office at 815-568-6680 / 779-901-8101 or email your request to: [email protected].

Thank you to the City of Marengo Street Department for respectfully displaying these banners.    




2023 Hometown Heroes


Sergeant Austin T Farrell, USMC ~ Active Duty


Austin T. Farrell is a native of Marengo, Illinois. He enlisted in June 2017 and underwent recruit training with Company L, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, California.

In October of 2017, PFC Farrell completed Marine Combat Training aboard Camp Pendleton, California. He reported to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri for Military Police Basic School. In March of 2018 PFC Farrell was promoted to Lance Corporal and in April completed Military Police Basic School.

Upon Graduation Lance Corporal Farrell was ordered to Marine Helicopter Squadron 1 in Quantico, Virginia for duty. During this time Lance Corporal Farrell attended Special Reaction Team phase one training as well as a Department of Justice certified SWAT school and became certified as an Emergency Vehicle Operator Course instructor.

In June of 2019 Lance Corporal Farrell was promoted to the rank of Corporal. He was then appointed to the billets of Squad leader, Sergeant of the Guard, and Field Training Officer within Security Company. In the 4th Quarter of 2019 Corporal Farrell was awarded Squadron Non-Commissioned Officer of the Quarter as well as the White House Military Office Junior Enlisted Member of the Quarter. corporal Farrell was again awarded Squadron Non-Commissioned Officer of the 4th Quarter in 2020. During this time Corporal Farrell also obtained a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Purdue University Global.

Corporal Farrell then received permanent change of assignment orders to Marine Corps Embassy Security Group in 2021 where he graduated from the Marine Security Guard School as a watch stander aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia. Corporal Farrell was assigned to, United States Consulate Almaty, Kazakhstan where he served as training NCO. In July of 2021 Sergeant Farrell was promoted to Sergeant. In July of 2022, Sergeant Farrell was ordered to United States Embassy Algiers, Algeria where he is currently serving as the Assistant Detachment Commander. In July of 2022 Sergeant Farrell completed his master’s degree in legal studies from Arizona State University.

Sergeant Farrell’s personal decorations include the Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Department of State Superior Honor Award, National Defense Service Medal, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal (2), Armed Forces Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Overseas Service Ribbon (2), Certificate of Commendation, Meritorious Mast, and the Presidential Service Badge.




Sergeant Company B – 101st Signal Battalion – George William Hauschildt – US Army – WW2



George William Hauschildt, hometown of Marengo, Illinois.  

Current home: Deceased

Branch of service: Army

Rank: Sergeant 

Dates of service: 3/2/1942 to 11/17/1945

Conflict: WW2

Hero’s bio:

George W. Hauschildt

Born on 3/18/1920 to George and Emma Hauschildt in Marengo.

Served in the Pacific Theater in the southern Philippines and Ryukyus islands from 3/2/1942 to 11/17/1945.

Rank: Sergeant in Company B 101st Signal Battalion as a battlefield telephone-telegraph installer.

Accommodations: Victory medal, Asiatic Pacific Theater ribbon w/2 bronze battle stars,

Philippine Liberation ribbon w/2 bronze battle stars, 6 overseas service bars, 1 service stripe, good conduct medal.

Returned home to Marengo and married Evelyn Winkelman on 5/18/1946.

Children: Diane, Joyce, Michael, Lawrence.

Grandchildren. Cole, Chase, Jennifer, Lisa, Danny.

Worked: Woodstock Die Casing for 38 years and owned Hauschildt Industries for 8 years retiring in 1985.

Member of American Legion Post 192 and VFW Post 5040 in Woodstock.

Deceased: 6/2/1997 at home in Marengo.





CW4 – Douglas Henry Hemmingsen – Army National Guard – Vietnam




CW4 Douglas Henry Hemmingsen, United States Army & United States National Guard

Douglas was born in Belvidere Illinois on April 18, 1948, where he grew up on Hemmingsen Dairy Farm on Hemmingsen Road in Union, Illinois. He attended grade school in Union and graduated from Marengo Community High School in 1966.

Douglas volunteered to fly helicopters in Vietnam, Huey, WO Class 69-5.  He was stationed in Vietnam from May 1969 to August 1969.  On August 13, 1969 the helicopter was ambushed while dropping off troops, it took on fire.  Doug was the lead pilot and the helicopter took a round through the windshield.  This round of bullets pierced through his arm and off his chest protector.  Doug was sent to a field hospital in Japan for surgery and then recovered at Walter Reed Hospital for a month.

Doug was active in the Unites States Army for three years and then twenty years in the Illinois National Guard from June 1975 to March 1994.

In 1973 Doug married Linda Finke, and were married for 49 year before Doug passed away.  They had three children, one son is a test pilot in the Air Force and 13 grandchildren.

Doug retired from the Illinois National Guard and Exelon Nuclear power plant where was an operator.  After raising his family in Sandwich, Illinois, Doug and his wife retired to North Carolina, where he built his home and spent the next 15 years enjoying it.

Sadly, on June 9, 2022 Doug passed away.

Douglas Henry Hemmingsen was awarded 16 air metals and the Purple Heart.



MM1 – Submarine Service – Todd E. Kutz – United States Navy


MM1 – Submarine Service, Todd Edwin Kutz, United States Navy.

Todd Edwin Kutz was born in Sterling, Illinois in 1965.  In 1986 he joined the United States Navy and served until 1997 as a MM1 aboard submarines.  Todd received three (3) Navy Achievement medals, two (2) Sea Service Deployment medals, the Navy Arctic Service Ribbon, three (3) Good Conduct Medals, South West Asia Service Medal, Navy E Ribbon, National Defense Service Medal, Meritorious Unit Commendation, Kuwait Liberation Medal and Enlisted Submarine Warfare Insignia.

Todd married Cynthia (Norris) Kutz in 1991 and they have five children – Marie, Camdon, Brynn, Tori and Brittany and five grandchildren: Jayce, Wyatt, Malakai, Elliot and Owen.

After leaving the Navy, Todd and his family settled in Illinois and eventually Marengo.  Todd is the General Manager for two local power plants.


E-9 Christopher Markison – United States Coast Guard 


E-9, Christopher Markison, United States Coast Guard

Christopher was born on June 4, 1965 to Charles and Mary Markison.  He and his siblings, Ed, Mike and Charlotte were raised in Marengo.  

In June of 1983, Christopher graduated from Marengo Community High School.  in August 1983 Christopher enlisted in the USCG.  

Chris married the love of his life, Donna in October 1988.  Their children, Charlie (born 1989) and Hannah (born 1991) were raised within the Coast Guard until they graduated high school .  Chris retired from the Coast Guard in September 2009.

Chris and Donna have one grandson – Bo, born to Charlie and Lexi and one granddaughter – Mila born to Hannah, and one step grandson – Marshall born to Hanna’s Fiancé Scott Fall.

True to his patriotic spirit, Chris joined the USCG to save lives and serve the American public.  Throughout his career , he advanced to become a Boatswain Mate, Master Chief (E-9)and was in command at various small boat stations and one patrol boat.  He had numerous assignments ranging from the Great Lakes, out to California and back to the Southeast region of the United States in South Carolina and Florida.

Throughout his 26 year career, Chris received numerous personal awards ranging from The Spirit of the Chief award from the USCG Chief’s academy in Petaluma, California; recognized by both peers and leadership instructors, Coast Guard Meritorious Service Medal, Coast Guard commendation medals, Coast Guard Achievement Medals, and Commandant’s Letter of Commendation Ribbons.  

Some noteworthy recognitions were for the following:  

  • An achievement medal for saving a persons who was washed overboard from a boat on Lake Erie.  The person was unconscious in frigid water temperatures and rough waters.
  • Commandants’ Letter of Commendation for saving a person who was ejected from a boat with a rope wrapped around his neck, as the boat was running uncontrollably in circle , with no one controlling the boat;
  • Commendation Medal for rescuing an elderly lady from the waters of Morro Bay, California after the vessel sank.

Chris retired from the Coast Guard in September 2009.  After his retirement he accepted a position with the U.S. Border Patrol Intelligence Unit in Detroit, MI.  He recently retired from that position on December 31, 2022 after 13 years.  Chris currently resides in Castalia, Ohio with his family.

Overall, Chris has absolutely no regrets in his time of serving both the USCG and USBP for just under 40 years.   




Airman Mechanic 2nd Class – Robert “Buzz” Marks – United States Navy – Atusugi, Japan


Airman Mechanic 2nd Class – Robert “Buzz” Marks – United States Navy – Atsugi, Japan

Robert (Bob “Buzz”) Marks was born to Mable (Samuelson) and Bob Marks on June 20, 1937 in Elgin, Illinois.  Mable was from Hampshire and Bob was from Gilberts, however Buzz was raised in Coral and Marengo.

On June 20, 1959, Buzz’s 22nd birthday he married Jeanette (Mack)  daughter of Barbara and John Mack and sister to Virginia (Mack) Morgan.

Buzz and Jeanette had three children:  Tim, Scott and Jodi which resulted in 6 grandchildren – Logan and Sarah (Tim) – Alex and Loren (Scott) – Casey and Maddie (Jodi) and two great-grandchildren Lydia and Miles (Sarah).

Buzz served in the U.S. Navy reserves while a senior in high school, at 17 years old upon graduation from Marengo Community High School in 1955, he then joined the regular Navy.  Three friends from MCHS: Joe Havens, Dave Kerlin and Buzz all volunteered together and all went through Great Lakes Training Center together, Company 304 in the summer of 1955.

Upon graduation from boot camp, Buzz chose aviation and went on to Airman prep school in Norman, Oklahoma and then to Aviation metal smith and hydraulic training school in Millington, Tennessee, just north of Memphis.  He was given the choice of duty station upon graduation from this training command and he chose Atsugi Naval Air Station in Atsugi, Japan on the island of Honshu in the Japanese islands.

Buzz spent the next twelve months at that assignment, but ended up spending 26 months and served out the rest of his active duty Navy requirement in Japan.  His first assignment was to be in charge of a crew 30 Japanese assigned to strip and repaint aircraft.  He knew not one word of Japanese when he started.  This time was followed by a new assignment to his own Navy (American) check crew working on prop and jet fighters.  The unit was FASRON 11, as a major overhaul facility for various aircraft carriers assigned to the Pacific fleet and were shared on base with the latest spy plane called the U@, which no one was supposed to talk about or take pictures of any of them.

In June of 1958, he was shipped back to the states from Yokahoma, Japan on a troop transport named the USNS Barrett which was full of Army troops from Korea, as added experience to the Sea Navy.  During this time the experienced a typhoon on their first three days out to port.  The only way to handle the storm was to tie themselves to their bunks.  They had nothing but crackers and water for the first 4 days at sea.  Buzz lost 20 pounds and the ship took 11 days to make it to port.

His release from the Navy was suppose to occur on the day they left Japan, so on his 21st birthday, he had a farewell to Japan. He had to exit through Treasure Island Naval Facility near San Francisco, California and returned directly following his release to his home and loving family in Chicago.

Following the Navy Buzz decided to obtain his college degree in business and computers, doing the work mostly in the evenings.  He then went on to receive an Associate degree from Elgin Community College and a Bachelor of Science from Rockford University while doing some graduate work at NIU in Accounting and Finance.  Buzz taught basic IT courses at McHenry County College to earn extra money so he could get his FAA private flying license followed by an FAA Commercial and multi-engine license back in the 1970’s.

His career following all of the above was in being an IT programmer, systems analyst, IT Manager, Business/real estate broker and Business System Analyst for all of Kemper Insurance office across the United States.  Buzz retired from Kemper/Siemens US in 2007.

His love for the community lead him to serve of the City Council, serve as an Alderman, served on the City Police Commission until just recently.  He currently is making his away around Marengo with the morning coffee gang.

Below are some memories that were shared with us.  




Corporal E-4 – Marnel F. Mendoza – 0811 Artillery Cannoneer – United States Marine Corps.


Corporal E-4 – Marnel F. Mendoza – 0811 Artillery Cannoneer – United States Marine Corps.

Marnel was born in Baguio, Philippines and moved to the United States at the age 4.  He lived his younger years in Jersey City, NJ., where he attended St. Aloysius High School where he signed up for the delayed entry program into the United States Marine Corps.  He graduated high school in 1990 and in December 1990 he left for boot camp at Parris Island, SC. In March 1991 he graduated boot camp with Platoon 2024 Golf Company, his MOS 0811 – Field Artillery where he attended MOS school at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

His duty stations and united included:  Lima Battery 4th Battalion, 12th marines, 3rd Marine Division in Okinawa Japan, RCT-7 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division in 29 Palms, California and Echo Battery 2nd Battalion 12th Marines 3rd Marine Division in 29 Palms California and Okinawa Japan.  His final unit was India Battery 3rd Battalion 11th Marines 1st Marine Division in 29 Palms, California.

Upon an honorable discharge in 1994, he returned to NJ to work and attended college.  He has two adult children: daughter Lornelle and son Antonio.

He has been a nurse for 17 years as well as an Assisted Living Director.  He currently works at the VA CBOC as a nurse.  

In 2022 he moved to Marengo to be with the love of his life, Anna, a Marine ( featured on a  2020 Hometown Hero Banner), in which he met in 1992.  He and Anna, now wife reside in Marengo and are active member of the McHenry County Marine Corps League, detachment #1009 and active in Toys for Tots in the Marengo Area.  



E-4 – 101st Airborn Division – Dean Barry Mishler – United States Army – Vietnam



E-4 – 101st Airborn Division – Dean Barry Mishler – United States Army – Vietnam

Barry was born on May 26, 1949 in Woodstock, Illinois.  Barry and wife Rita share children – Jason Mishler, Tonya (Joe Hess) Mishler, step children: Gavin Schmitt, Darren Schmitt, Tyler (Nicole) Schmitt. Grandchildren: Devin (Jake) Goodchild, Zoe Mishler, Gage Mishler, Jarvis Hernandez, Brayden Mishler, Sadie Mishler, Ayva Schmitt, Hannah Schmitt.  Great Grandchildren: Adrian and Isla Goodchild.

Barry was drafted on September 10, 1969.  He completed his basic training at Ft. Jackson in South Carolina.  He was assigned to the 101st Airborne Infantry in Hue, Vietnam.  He received his combat Infantry badge on the second day of fighting in the jungle.  He walked point while fighting NVA.  He was later sent on a firebase called “Ripcord” where they were eventually overrun.  Over 400 soldiers died during this time.  Barry and his fellow soldiers were extricated by helicopter and felt very lucky to get out.  Barry spend a year in Vietnam.  After Vietnam, Barry returned to the states and was stationed at Ft. Benning, Georgia until his discharge from the Army in August 1971.

Military Honors:

  • National Defense Medal, 1 Silver Star;
  • Expert – Rifle, M14, M16;
  • Air Medal;
  • Good Conduct Medal (1st award);
  • Bronze Star Medal;
  • Army Commendation Medal;
  • Combat Infantry Badge (1st Award);
  • Vietnam Service Medal with 2 Bronze Stars;
  • Vietnam Campaign Medal with 1960 Device.

After his Army discharge Barry worked in the trucking industry on a dock for 30 years, then worked at Woodstock School District for 10 years.  Barry has since retired and lives in Union.

Here is a powerful article to read:  Barry Mishler article



Lieutenant Nicholas Remke – United States Coast Guard – Active Duty 



Lieutenant Nicholas Remke – United States Coast Guard – Active Duty

Nicholas A Remke was born and raised in Marengo.  He attended Marian Central High School where he excelled in Academics and wrestling. He placed three times in the Illinois Wrestling tournament during high school.  

Nick then attended the United States Coast Guard Academy where he earned a degree in Marine and Environmental Science.  He also wrestled at the Academy, going to NCAA National Tournament twice and earning All American status by placing fifth.

After graduation, Nick spent two years on the USCGC Elm, a buoy-tender in Astoria OR. The Coast Guard then sent him to Northwestern University to earn a Masters Degree in Chemical Engineering and graduated in June of 2023.  

Nick is currently serving as a Technical Engineer working on Maritime Policy at the Marine Safety Center in Washington DC.



E-4 Armorer – 6th Army Honor Guard – Martin Earl Roush – United States Army – Vietnam Era



E-4 Armorer – 6th Army Honor Guard – Martin Earl Roush – United States Army – Vietnam Era

Martin Earl Roush was born in Woodstock, Illinois on December 23, 1946.  He is married to Patricia Roush, father to Chet, bonus father to David, Amy and Tammy and grandfather to three grandsons.

Martin was drafted in 1966 as an 18 year old, he served in the Army during Vietnam as a Specialist E4 Corporal, Armorer – 6th Army Honor Guard.

Marty has shared stories of the brotherhood of service.  He is a Hometown Hero because he keeps the memories and honors those that did what was asked of them, sacrificed themselves and for those who came home.  It was not an easy return for Marty and his fellow soldiers.  He like many, carry the scars inside and out.    Marty keeps the stories alive.  He speaks with respect whenever he talks of active, retired or to anyone who is inquiring about the military.

Marty and his wife currently reside in Union.






2021 Hometown  Heroes



Lance Corporal – Jerry Campos – USMC – Active Duty – Currently serving in Japan


Lance Corporal Jerry Campos, United States Marine Corps (USMC) Active Duty, currently station in Japan.

Jerry Campos Jr
Lance Corporal
Hotel Company
2nd Battalion
Deployed: Okinowa Japan

Jerry Campos, Jr. was born on April 13, 1998 and is the son of Lena & Jerry Sr  Campos.

Brother to Lisette & Lena Campos Jr. Uncle to Olivia, Mackenzie and Aiden. 

Jerry went to Marengo Middle School and graduated from HHS, he was a wrestler and took home 2nd place @ state champions. We moved back to Marengo 2019. 

Jerry has always wanted to serve his country since he was a little boy. He is currently working in Artillery. Jerry has accomplished the title of sharp shooter, 

Jerry is looking to seek an education in business finance when he comes home. 



Staff Sergeant Robert Damisch – Army National Guard



Staff Sergeant Robert Damisch – Army National Guard

Robert Samuel Damisch was born on March 3, 1991 in Chicago, Illinois.  At the age of four, he and his two sisters became the foster children of Bill and Lea Damisch.  In 1999, Bill and Lea adopted Robert and his sisters.

Robert attended Zion Lutheran School and Riley Elementary.  In 2009, Robert graduated from Marengo Community High School.  At the age of 17, while a junior at Marengo High School, Robert enlisted and was sworn into the Army.  Upon graduation in 2009, he left for boot camp at Fort Benning, GA.  After 24 weeks of boot camp and advanced infantry training, he was stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas.  

Robert served two tours of duty in Afghanistan attached to the 6-1 CAV.  In 2012 he joined the New Mexico National Guard. Robert now serves with the Georgia National Guard, 2-121st IN, with the rank of Staff Sergeant, out of Fort Stewart, Georgia.

Robert is finishing his 13th year as active duty National Guard and just re-enlisted for seven more years.  From a young age, he has always been a patriot and continues to serve his country proudly.


SPC/E4 Anthony “Cowboy” Diller – US Army – Iraq


SPC/E4 Anthony “Cowboy” Diller – US Army – Iraq

Anthony “Cowboy” Diller was born on March 9, 1986 to Tony and Jayne Diller in Hoffman Estates.  

In 2006 Tony graduated Marengo Community High School.  After graduation he joined the United States Army and completed his basic training at Ft. Knox, Kentucky.  After basic, he went to Edgewood Proving Grounds, Maryland where he learned to be 63 Hotel track vehicle repair.  On June 13, 2008 Tony was deployed to Iraq where he was a mechanic and personal security for his Lt. Colonel.  

After Iraq, he came home and finished his mechanic training at UTI.   He currently owns “Cowboy’s Auto Repair” located at 657 W. Grant Hwy., Marengo.

He has one daughter, Nova who just turned 5.

Tony is active in the Marengo American Legion as an event coordinator,  a life member at the VFW in McHenry,  road captain for the Combat Vets Motorcycle Association, a Junior Warden for Cherry Valley Mason’s Lodge #173, and actively working towards a non for profit “Operation Warrior Jeep” and “Warrior Auto Resources” 



Corporal Richard Johnson – United States Marine Corps (USMC) 



Corporal Richard Johnson – United States Marine Corps (USMC) 

Richard Johnson was born on October 23, 1961.  He saw his life going nowhere after the death of his friend.  It was this life altering event that moved him to join the United States Marine Corps.  

Once through basic training, he found his calling as a subsistence chief, supply chain.   When it was time to make the choice to re-enlist, he Sergeant Major, having lost his re-enlistment papers told him “Sorry son, but it looks like the Marine Corps forgot about you”    This is when he left the Marine Corps with the rank of Corporal.

Richard’s motto is and always has been “It’s ok not to grow up”.   This can be seen in his everyday life at Wholesome Petz Pet Supplies in downtown Marengo.  If you ever visit the store in a bad mood, Richard will make sure you leave with a smile on your face.    He walks around with joy in his heart.

Richard has three children from his first marriage, and three from his second marriage.  He is married to Angela, whom will greet you daily at the store.  Richard has a big love for all servicemen and women, and will often go out of his way to thank a veteran for their service.

Richard is a proud Christian and a proud conservative, he supports our local police and fire departments.  His love for his fellow man radiates within the community.

Richard is also the voice of the Marengo Community Farmers Market for the last couple years.  Every Friday, at Calvin Spencer Park, visitors look forward to hearing his advice and listening to his “stupid” jokes. 

Richard is proud to be a part of Marengo and proud of his service to this country.   “Once a Marine, Always a Marine”   


E-6 Active Duty – Andrew James Lohff – US Coast Guard – Deployed in Bahrain



E-6 Active Duty – Andrew James Lohff – US Coast Guard – Deployed in Bahrain

Andrew James (AJ) Lohff was born on October 31, 1991 in Woodstock, Illinois, to Jim Jr. and Charlotte (Markinson) Lohff.  From the time he was able to walk AJ knew he would be in the service.  He played “Army” as a child and used the trees at his home to hide. Growing up, AJ was involved in various sports including football and basketball, at Marengo Community High School, class of 2008. After high school, he attended McHenry County College and graduated with an Associates degree.   He has always been proud of his roots and hometown.

AJ is married to Brittany Lohff, although they knew each other in high school it wasn’t until after school that they re-connected through their sisters being friends.  AJ and Brittany have two children, Sawyer (4) and Ryker (2).  AJ is currently deployed to Bahrain (a small Arab state situated in a bay on the southwestern coast of the Persian Gulf) and Brittany is taking it day by day.  Her and the children keep busy, they make small goals such as count downs, and mini trips to pass the time.  This also keeps the kids excited and gives they something to look forward to – the day their father comes home from Bahrain.

AJ has a passion for helping others and enjoys the day to day activities that the Coast Guard offers.  From sinking boats, saving lives or chasing down smugglers, everyday differs.  AJ plans to make a career with in the United States Coast Guard. and is excited to see where this adventure leads.

AJ has the tremendous support from his family, which is still local.  They are very proud of his success and endeavors.  




Sergeant E-5 – Chester Mazurkiewicz – US Army – Vietnam Era


Sergeant E-5 – Chester Mazurkiewicz – US Army – Vietnam Era

Chester was born on October 15, 1946 in Heilbrone, Germany.   Chester served in the US Army from May 17, 1966 to May 13, 1968 and the US Army support unit until 1974.  He was assigned to the 20th brigade, 36th Engineer Combat Unit, stationed in Uung Tua, Vietnam during the “TET” offensive.

 In 1966-1968 he was assigned to “B” Company, 36th Engineers, which landed him the job of a “M-60” machine gunner, plus other various duties.  Chester re-enlisted after his first honorable discharge and then spent the time in the US Army support unit until his final discharge date of June 17, 1974.  

Commendation Medals received:

  • National Defense Service Medal
  • Vietnam Service Medal
  • Expert (Rifle M-14)
  • Vietnam Campaign Medal
  • Good Conduct Medal 


E-6 Seaman – David Samuelson – United States Navy – USS Hammerberg



E-6 Seaman – David Samuelson – United States Navy – USS Hammerberg

David Lee Samuelson was born on June 7, 1937, in Belvidere, Illinois.   On September 26, 1955, Dave enlisted in the Navy and was stationed at the U.S. Naval Station in Newport, Rhode Island until his service aboard the USS Hammerberg.  Upon his Honorable Discharge, Dave returned to his home town of Marengo.

In 1960, he married Jinny Lou Kunde.  Together they have three children: Eve, Lane and Cole and four grandchildren: Devon, Clay, Reese and Ryder.

Newly married, Dave was a proprietor of Sam’s Tavern beginning in 1960 and then turning it over to his Son in 2000.  Besides his family the other love in Dave’s life was his love of horses and training and harness driving which keeps him active to this day.   




Corporal E-4 – Ronald Sodko – United States Marine Corps (USMC) – Desert Storm



Corporal E-4 – Ronald Sodko – United States Marine Corps (USMC) – Desert Storm

Ronald (Ron) Sodko was born on March 30, 1966 in Elgin, Illinois to Robert and Elizabeth Arney, later to be adopted by his step-father Bud Sodko.  Ron grew up in Northern Illinois with several of his siblings, and graduated from Marengo Community High School in 1984.  Upon his 1984 graduation, Ron enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and served through 1988, and again towards the end of Desert Storm in 1991.

After he served his country, Ron returned to the area and pursued a career in welding, and to this date he is an active welder residing in Cherry Valley, Illinois.

Ron has three children:  Danielle, Sarah and Jacob.  He also is the proud grandpa of Collins, Crew and Briggs.

Ron is a very active community member, especially in his passion for helping veterans, more specifically “Top of Illinois Veterans Stand Down, Inc.” and “Darkhorse Lodge” 

Ron always goes above and beyond to do his best for his fellow veterans and his community.  A great father, brother, grandfather, uncle and friend, Ron is admired for everything he does.


Captain – Gavin Warmbold – United States Air Force – Active Duty



Captain – Gavin Warmbold – United States Air Force – Active Duty

Gavin Warmbold was born in Woodstock, Illinois on February 24, 1991 to Eric and Barb Warmbold and grew up in Marengo.

From the very young age of five, he told everyone he would meet that he was going to be an Airforce pilot when he grew up.

 At the age of 14 he attained the rank of Eagle Scout, and was a Congressional Nominee (Honorable Donald Manzullo) to the Air Force Academy.  

After graduating Marengo Community High School, Gavin attended the University of Wisconsin at Madison and earned a B.S. degree in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.  At that time, he also obtained the rank of Cadet Colonel in his ROTC detachment.  

Gavin commissioned into the United States Air Force the next day and began “Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training” at Columbus Air Force base in Mississippi.  From there he completed C130J training at Little Rock AFB in Arkansas.

Captain Warmbold is a C130J super Hercules pilot assigned to Dyess AFB in Abilene Texas. He has been deployed to Africa and Afghanistan.

 Gavin lives in Abilene with his wife, Karlyn and his daughter, Walker Paige.



Pfc. First Class – William Eugene Wilcox – United States Army – Normandy – PURPLE HEART



Pfc. First Class – William Eugene Wilcox – United States Army – Normandy – PURPLE HEART

William Eugene Wilcox was born in Marengo, Illinois on November 27, 1916 to Laurence E Wilcox and Myrtle (Brown) Wilcox-Wolf.

He had one sister – Orrana E. Wilcox and four half siblings – Laurence G. Wilcox, Frank Aaron Wilcox, Carla (Wilcox) St. John and Mary Lou (Wilcox) Plencner.

In 1930, as a 13 year old child William “Billy” won a tree sitting contest.  He made his perch in a Maple tree behind Eicksteadt Brothers hardware store in Marengo.  Billy beat a boy from Belvidere by 30hours. Billy sat in the tree for a total of 651 hours. The full story appeared in the Marengo Republican.  Never one to sit still, Billy mounted roller skate wheels onto an old ironing board and from the highest point in Marengo, he jumped on his homemade invention which would now be known as a skateboard and rode it all the way into town.

William enlisted in the United States Army on July 10, 1940.  While active he married Gertrude (Sheffield) Wilcox on December 13, 1941 and it would be three years before he saw his first child, Larry.

William completed his basic training at Fort Bragg in North Carolina where his military occupation was in field artillery and a heavy duty truck driver.   William was then deployed to Tunisia, Sicily, Normandy, North France, Rhineland Belgium Campaign and Palermo, Italy.  William  would later tell his stories of him sleeping in snow banks to keep warm, liberating prison camps and even the famous storming the beaches at Normandy.  William served under General Westmoreland and for a time he was his personal security guard.  While in Africa, he contracted Malaria.  William earned numerous medals such as: American Defense Service Medal, European – African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, Silver Star Attachment, World War II Victory Medal, Honorable Service Button World War II.  Due to a fire in the archives in St. Louis, Missouri in 1973 some of his service records were lost in the fire most notably records from 1912 to 1959, so complete records could not be constructed.  William received the highest 5th grade technician during his military career.   

However, the most honorable medal received was his TWO Purple Hearts.  He received one for being stabbed during a fight and the second for pulling a fellow soldier out of a fire.  

After William returned home and met his then three year old son Larry.  He and his wife settled in Union Illinois, where he continued his training received from the Army and made his living as a truck driver. William and Gertrude welcomed six more children into their family of three.  Children of William and Gertrude are: Larry, William, Linda, Carol, Patricia, Pamela and David. There are 21 grandchildren, 28 great-grandchildren and 3 great-great grandchildren.   Not satisfied with retirement he worked at So-Good BBQ to keep busy and earned a pilot license at Dacy Airport.

William left a legacy of patriotism for his heirs.  He was honored to serve in the United States Army.

William passed away on Veterans Day (November 11th) 1995.  







2020 Hometown Heroes 

Sergeant 1st Class – Bobby Lee Beggs –  US Army Korean War



Sergeant 1st Class – Bobby Lee Beggs

Bob was born July 26, 1932 in rural Johnson County, Illinois, one of six children born to Esco and Gladys Beggs.  He has a twin sister, named Betty.  Bob grew up on a farm and went to school in a one room schoolhouse. Bob joined the Army during the Korean War and had basic training in Fort Knox, Kentucky.  After his training he went to Japan for one week and then straight to Korea.  For one year, one month and fifteen days, Bob was stationed in Korea.  His duties included guarding prisoners on Koje-do island.  He was a Field First Sergeant when he left Korea.  While on the ship home, the war ended.  Upon his return home he was an acting platoon leader in Indiana for three months until his discharge.

 After he was discharged, Bob went to work for his brother Wayne Beggs, owner Wayne’s Meat Market.  In 1966 Bob purchased the meat market from his brother and owned it for 17 years.  Along the way, Bob built apartments and became a landlord as well.  On October 26, 1969, Bob married the love of his life, Marilyn.  Happily blending families’ together, daughters Lou Ann, Eileen, Cindy, Renee, Laura and Jami.  Bob is the proud grandfather of twelve grandchildren and fourteen great grandchildren. 

Bob obtained his pilot’s license and flew his Piper Cub for many years.   His hobbies include: hunting, golf, and another big love of his life – horses.  He has owned many Standardbred horses (mainly trotters) and to this day at 88 years old goes and jogs his horses and others at Rath Stables.

Bob has been active in the Marengo American Legion for 64 years.  Every Memorial Day he proudly marches in the parade and is involved with the rifle salute at the remembrance ceremony.  Bob is also a lifelong member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Military honors included: National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal with three Campaign Stars, United Nations Service Medal and the Combat Infantryman’s Badge.

His family is very proud of him for many reasons.  

Private John William Benton – US Army – WWI



John William Benton

PVT US Army 1918-Armistice WWI  –  (Corrected reprint) 

John W. Benton was born February 1, 1894 in Union to William & Rebecca Benton, only one of seven to survive.  John attended area schools until the fourth grade.  He was chauffeur for E.D. Patrick in 1916 at the age of 22. In 1918 John enlisted because it was his duty to do so. He returned after the Armistice to his chauffeur job and his girl friend Meta Ulrich whom he married January 1, 1921. They had one daughter Margaret. He also had 6 grandchildren, 11 great grand and now great, greats survive him.

In 1935 his wife passed away and in 1937 he wed Gail Webb. They were together over 40 years. He had many jobs over the years – working for BJ Arnold, working at the National sewing machine factory and helping build Marengo High School and the Baptist parsonage. In 1931 he started his own business – Benton Garage. In 1970 at the age of 76 he sold his business and started a job with the city as a parking meter attendant. He was Sgt. of  Arms for the legion for over 45 years and was a charter member. He was a fireman from 1912-1971 at one time being chief. He and his wife Gail were responsible for putting the flags up on main street for the holidays and for putting flags on the graves of area veterans. On Memorial Day he laid the wreath in the cemetery for all the vets up until he died. He passed away in 1985 at age 91.


Sergeant Augustin Delgado – USMC – Operation Iraqi & Enduring Freedom



Augustin Delgado was born in Elgin, IL on November 22, 1985. He moved to Marengo, IL and attended Riley school and Marengo High  School. At age 17 Augustin enlisted in the United States Marine Corps.

In June 2004 Augustin attended boot camp in San Diego California and graduated in October. After completion of boot camp Augustin went to Marine Combat Training (MCT) in Camp Pendleton, Ca. After completion of MCT Augustin completed Field Radio Operator school located in Twentynine Palms, Ca. Upon graduation of Field Radio school Augustin was assigned to his first unit Alpha Battery, 1st Battalion, 11th Marines an Artillery unit in Camp Pendleton.

In August of 2005 he was deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, he returned April 2006. Augustin got married in December 2006 in San Diego to his wife Anna. On July 2007 Augustin was deployed for the second time to Iraq in support of Operation Enduring Freedom while his wife was two months pregnant. On December 18 ,2007 Augustin first daughter Annamaria was born while he was in Iraq. While on deployment Augustin re-enlisted four more years. He returned on February of 2008.

In July 2008 Augustin was assigned to his next unit Marine Forces Pacific on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. On July 1, 2012 he welcomed his second daughter Carmen Sofia. Augustin completed his eight year enlistment in the Marine Corp on July 22, 2012. Augustin and his family reside in Arizona.

Sergeant Herb Franks – US Army



Herb Franks has spent most of his life in Marengo, McHenry County.  He jokes that he hasn’t gotten very far in life.  His father was an immigrant from Poland and his mother from Austria.  They settled near the small farming town in Marengo during the depression, starting out with 154 acres of land and 20 cows.

Mr. Franks did not have to think about his career choice, thanks to his father.  From the time he was six or seven; his father told him he was to become a lawyer.  His father who knew a lawyer in Sycamore often took him to the DeKalb County Courthouse to watch him try a case, a pursuit that he found exciting, at least more than milking cows twice a day.

He has always been driven to exceed his family’s expectations.  He attended Coral, a one room school house where he was valedictorian.  There were a total of 3 in his class.  He graduated from high school at the age of 16 and then enrolled in college. He graduated from Roosevelt College in Chicago and then moved to Washington D.C. where he attended law school at night at American University and worked as an aide to Illinois Congressman Barratt O’Hara.  After his first semester of law school he was drafted into the Army and shortly thereafter drafted into his marriage with his wife of 62 years, Eileen.  In 1958, when he was discharged,  he re-enrolled in law school and worked as an advance man for the late U.S. Sen. W. Stuart Symington.  He passed the bar in 1961, and opened a practice in Rockford.  In 1962 he embarked on a partnership with Senator Robert R. Canfield.  In 1972, with three growing boys and wanting to be closer to home, he opened an office near Marengo.  Today that firm is known as Franks, Gerkin & McKenna, which employs nine lawyers – including one of his sons.

In 1979 he and his wife were among the founders of the McHenry County Jewish Congregation.  Also, in the late 70’s he organized and opened the First National Bank of Marengo where he has served in the capacity of Chairman of the Board.  In the early 80’s, he organized and opened the Wonder Lake State Bank where he served as Chairman of the Board.  He also served as Chairman of the Board of Forest Hospital which was a psychiatric hospital in Des Plaines and was a founder of the Forest Institute for Professional Psychology which honored him with an honorary Doctorate.

In 2000, He was the first attorney from McHenry County to be elected as the Illinois State Bar Association President.  He served as a director of the ISBA Mutual Insurance Company and is its former Chairman.

He is a member of the Marengo Masonic Lodge and received the highest honor of that organization, the 33rd degree.



ETN3-E4 Robert Gray – US Navy – Vietnam



Robert Gray, ETN3-E4 United States Navy, Vietnam

Robert L. Gray was born on August 25, 1945, the youngest of Alma (Holman) and Oakley Gray’s nine children; Genelle, Doris, Harold, Earl, Norma, Frank, Carol, Shelby and Robert “Bobby”.  Alma was a homemaker and Oakley was a police officer in Marengo for many years. Bob’s three older brothers all proudly served their country in the U.S. Air Force.  Bob graduated from Marengo Community High School in 1963 and enlisted in the Navy in 1964. 

He served on the USS Gridley prior to a leave in the summer of 1967.   While on leave he became engaged with plans to marry when he returned from a final tour of duty.  When returning to duty he had chosen to go on river duty.  This duty saw him stationed on YRBM-16 (yard repair, berthing and messing). YRBM are large un-propelled barges used by the “Brown Water Navy”. They are known by this term due to the fact that they are capable of military operations in rivers or “brown water” especially near shorelines.  They were used as bases for specialized river boats.

At the time of the explosion that ultimately was the cause of Bob’s death, the barge was between Ben Tre Canal and Ham Luong River in southern Vietnam which was about a mile wide.

The explosion took place on November 24, 1967 at 1:12 a.m., the day after Thanksgiving.  The explosion ripped a 17’ x 18’ x 9’ hole below the water line, this tore into sleeping quarters throwing men from their “racks” which also ruptured oil and fuel tanks.  Bob went to his battle station in the crow’s nest but could not see through the smoke and the flames.  The crew was ordered to abandon ship but Bob was unable to come down from the crow’s nest.  The metal post was too hot for him to descent so he leaped through the flames where a canopy broke his fall.  In spite of the canopy the burns on his body were horrific.  A crewmate picked him up and attempted to carry him to safety.  While carrying him another explosion ripped through causing shrapnel to become embedded in the crewmate’s leg.  Upon waking up in the hospital, his crewmate found out that Bob had been evacuated to Yokohama, Japan with severe burns over most of his body. 

Sadly, Robert “Bobby” succumbed to his injuries on November 27, 1967.

Steven Skeels, nephew of Robert “Bobby” Gray, states that his mom was Genelle, the oldest of Alma and Oakley’s children and Bob was only seven years older than him.  Steven still holds fond memories of Uncle Bobby, like fighting over who got to drink the pickle juice.  Uncle Bobby took Steven to see his first movie at the Marengo Colonial Theater in which they say the original 13 Ghosts in 3D, where they had to wear the silly cardboard glasses to see the ghosts. Steven recalls so many good memories, yet so many opportunities lost to make new memories with his uncle.

Bobby’s death changed the family in so many ways.  When the Naval Commander presented Bob’s medals to Alma and Oakley, the look in Oakley’s eyes was heartbreaking.  Oakley was never the same after that, the light in his eyes was extinguished.  He lost a son, his youngest child.  Like so many other loved ones, Oakley was as much a victim of the Vietnam War as Bobby was.  Oakley passed away just two and a half years later at the age of 66. 

In recognition to his service to his country Bob was awarded the Vietnam Service Medal for counteroffensive Phase I-VI, the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Metal, the Combat Action bar, the National Defense Medal and a Purple Heart.

Stories and firsthand accounts can be found online at:  https://brownwater-navy.com/vietnam/YRBM16ds.htm and in the book “War in the Shallows” by John Darrell Sherwood.

Sergeant Gerald Havens – USMC – Vietnam



Gerald “Jerry” Havens – Sergeant – USMC

Jerry was born on December 29, 1948, to George and Loretta Havens, the youngest in a family of 12 children, three girls and nine boys.  Jerry grew up in Marengo and graduated Marengo Community High School and in June 1967, right after he enlisted in the Marine Corps in April 1967.  Jerry was the sixth son to join the military and the third to join the Marine Corps.

After graduation, Jerry was stationed at Camp Pendleton with the 27 Marines. While there, he and four of his buddies decided to volunteer for Vietnam.  Jerry was deployed to Vietnam in February 1968, with the 1st Marine Division, H&S Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Regiment (1/5).  He was assigned to the 106 recoilless rifle platoon and his job was bridge and hilltop security.  Jerry’s MOS included 106 recoilless rifle, flamethrower and 3.5 rocket launcher.

On October 9, 1968, while on OP – (Observation Post) in Vietnam, Jerry was wounded.  For the next 11 months Jerry was in and out of hospitals from Japan to Illinois and then Virginia.  He was then medically discharge with retirement benefits as Sergeant E5 and received a Purple Heart.

On March 1, 1969 Jerry married the love of his life, Linda.  They had two boys, Garrett (Debby) and Grant (Jenny) and four grandchildren, Heather, Cade, Lewis and Emerson.  Besides working in retail, Jerry worked as a traffic manager at Morton Chemical & Salt in Woodstock. 

Besides his active membership in the McHenry Marine Corps League #1009, Jerry enjoys reading and travel with his wife.  Their favorite place to visit is Hawaii.


Ensign First Class Joseph Lewis Sr. – US Navy – WWII



Joseph Ernest Lewis Boatswains Mate 2/c, USN

Joseph E. Lewis was born in Brooklyn NY in 1922.  As a small child his mother relocated back home to Garden Prairie and Joe was raised on his uncle’s farm in Boone County.  He was a very responsible boy, and loved farming.  However, when World War II broke out, Joe decided to join the military and help his country.

Joe enlisted in the Navy on December 1, 1941. He was sent to Camp Peary, VA.  Less than a month later, he was serving at Pearl Harbor and was assigned to the U.S.S. Navajo, a Navy tug that helped in salvage operations of battleships sunk along Ford Island.  He served on the Navajo during the battle of the Coral Sea, supporting warships and again doing salvage duty.  Being a diver, he spent time below the surface of the ocean, searching for mines.

The Navy took Joe too many locations which included:  Midway Island, Guadalcanal and Sydney, Australia.  When the Navajo was reassigned, Joe was transferred to another ship; however, this did not last long.  “I went aboard at eight in the morning and at four in the afternoon we were sunk.”

Back on the Navajo, and returning to Guadalcanal, Joe continued to do salvage work, including towing a damaged cruiser.  The Japanese found them and the small tug was saved by a destroyer blocking torpedoes heading in their direction. In 1943 the Navajo struck a mine and sank. Joe was saved. Soon after much needed leave time back in the States, Joe was assigned to a Destroyer Escort, the U.S.S. Fechteler.  This ship would protect cargo ships from U-boats, making their way across the Atlantic and into the Mediterranean Sea.  The Fechteler was lost on May 5, 1944, hit by a German torpedo.   Joe then spent time on a raft in the ocean, waiting rescue.  Once he was sent back to the states, he was again assigned to a ship, the U.S.S. Admiral R.E. Coontz, where he spent the remainder of the war.

A few years after the war, Joe married Ethel Garman from Marengo. They lived in Marengo and had 7 children while living in town.  In 1960, they moved to New Mexico, where the 8th child was born.  Their children are Joseph (Rose) Byhalia, MS; Constance (Eugene) Boxleitner, Marengo; Frances Wilson, Union; Robert Lewis, Belvidere; Carol (David) Johnson, Marengo; Thomas Lewis, WI; Jill (Bobby) Rucker, Marengo and Diane (Duane) Oranger, Marengo.  Joe and Ethel Lewis also have 16 grandchildren and 18 great grandchildren.

Joe was a member of many organizations, including the Marengo United Methodist Church, American Legion Post # 192, Freemasons, The Shriner’s, and The Boy Scouts of America.  Not content to just join and take part, he played leadership roles in all of the organizations, including becoming JoJo, the Shriner clown!

Joe passed away July 15, 1998, after suffering many years from heart disease.


Sergeant Warren Lindsay – US ARMY – WWII



Service Person’s Full Name:  Warren Philip Lindsay

Hometown:  Marengo

Branch of Service:  Army

Rank:  Sergeant

Dates of Service:  June 26, 1942 to Oct. 12, 1945

Conflict:  WWII

Hero’s Bio:  Warren Philip Lindsay swept into the military at the start of WWII as was the way for the teenagers of that time.  Having a mechanical aptitude he entered training to become an airplane  mechanic which took him to many stations in England, Europe and mostly North Africa.  There he was responsible for keeping our B17s flying.  The name of ‘his’ plane was ‘War Eagle’.  Honorable Discharged as a Sergeant.  Thank you Dad!

Warren and Patricia started their lives together in Marengo in 1949.  Had three children.  There are still a few who remember the Lindsay Buick/Allis Chalmer Dealership.  Warren was a member of the Marengo Volunteer Fire Department during that time. Later a charter member of the Marengo Rescue Squad.  Probably best remembered for his time at Lindsay Standard Oil Station on the corner of Rte. 176 and Rte. 23.  Later opened Lindsay Auto Parts (a NAPA store) and another in Hampshire. 

Warren and Pat were able to retire in 1987, travel around the United States until settling in Alamo Tx until their passing.


Staff Sergeant Lloyd “Bud” Millard – USMC – WWII/Korean War



Lloyd “Bud” Millard

Born 7/01/1927

Quit high school at age 17 to join the Marine Corps. Entered 2/21/1945. Served in WW II. Discharged 8/20/1946.

Enlisted in USMC reserves 1947. Called to active duty June 1951 to serve in the Korean War. Discharged 08/1952.

Married Virginia Paskvalich on 10/13/1951. 3 children; 7 grandchildren; 4 great grandchildren.

College Degrees: BSIE, Illinois Institute Of Technology., 1951. MBA, University of Chicago, 1958.

Successful 35 year work career at Motorola, Inc, Retired 1989



Lt. Colonel Jeffery Schulman – USMC 

Enduring & Iraqi Freedom – Onward Liberty



Jeffery Schulman was born in Chicago and was raised in New York City.  He enlisted in the Marine Corps in May 1985.  Following recruit training and Infantry Training School he was assigned to the Naval Security Group, Sebana Seca, Puerto Rico in October 1985 for duties as a Marine Guard.  During his tour he was meritoriously promoted to the ranks of Lance Corporal and Corporal.  Following this he was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, and was meritoriously promoted to Sergeant.  In 1989 he was selected for the Marine Enlisted Commissioning Education Program to pursue a commission.

Jeff graduated from The George Washington University in December 1992 with a degree in political science.  After completion of The Basic School and Armor Officers Basic Course he reported to Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms for duty with 1st Tank Battalion.  He served as Platoon Commander, Battalion Legal Officer, Company XO and Company Commander.  He was promoted to captain while the CO of Company D.

Jeff then reported to 9th Marine Corps District in October 1996 for duties as the Officer Selection Officer at Recruiting Station Kansas City.  While there he met Christine Ham, life-long resident of Marengo. Upon his completion of this tour in 1999 and her graduation from Truman State University, they moved to Quantico, Virginia where he completed Career Level School.  Jeff and Chris were married while in Quantico and soon after, they moved to Fort Knox, Kentucky where Jeff was the Inspector-Instructor Company A, 8th Tank Battalion until 2002. He was selected for major before reporting to U.S. Marine Corps Forces Atlantic in July 2002 for duty as the Force Deployment Officer.

In January 2003 Jeff reported to U. S. Marine Corps Forces Central Command Headquarters, Bahrain/Kuwait to serve as the Force Deployment Officer and lead the Working Group in support of Operations ENDURING FREEDOM and IRAQI FREEDOM.  He completed the 9 month deployment and returned to Norfolk.

Jeff then reported to 2d Tank Battalion, 2d Marine Division Camp Lejeune, NC in July 2005 and served as the CO H&S Co. until receiving orders to deploy in January 2006 to Islamabad, Pakistan.  He served as the Marine Corps Liaison Officer to Pakistan’s Naval Forces.

In August 2006 Jeff returned to Camp Lejeune and served as the XO, 2d Tank Battalion.  In January 2008, he deployed to Kabul, Afghanistan and served as lead Planner in the CJ35 for Regional Command East and was also the ISAF Liaison Officer to Afghanistan’s Presidential Protective Service.  He returned to Camp Lejeune in July 2008 and was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in August 2008. 

September 2008 he reported to U. S. Special Operations Command in Tampa, FL and served as the Chief, Specialized Courses and Ranges Branch.  Upon completion of his joint tour in August 2011 he reported to III Marine Expeditionary Force, Okinawa, Japan for duties as Oceania Exercise Planner, G-3 Future Operations.  In January 2012 he deployed for 1 year to Liberia, Africa in support of Operation ONWARD LIBERTY, serving as Deputy Officer-in-Charge and Advisor to the Armed Forces of Liberia.   

Upon his return from Liberia to Okinawa in 2013, Jeff retired from the Marine Corps following 28 years of faithful service. His personal awards include the Bronze Star Medal, Defense Meritorious Service Medal (Third Award), Meritorious Service Medal (Second Award), Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (Second Award).

On his retirement, Jeff and his family settled back in Christine’s hometown of Marengo and have lived here since.  They have 3 children; Lincoln, Luke, and Samantha and love living in Marengo.  Jeff now works for Cook County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management as the Chief of Logistics.  He is actively involved in local search and rescue and disaster management and volunteers with McHenry County EMA as well as Illinois Search and Rescue.  He is an active member of Zion Lutheran Church as well.  He was blessed to travel the world and serve his country and is now so thankful to call Marengo home. 

Corporal E-4 Anna M. Sourile – USMC



Anna M Sourile, Corporal E-4 – USMC

Anna was born in 1974 in Nowa Huta, Poland. Her mother Margaret fled Poland during turmoil and despair of communistic rule in hopes of a better life. She had to leave Anna behind with her grandmother and sister. It was not easy but after some time in Austria her mother arrived in the United States. She settled in Chicago.  Anna arrived in the United States at the age of almost 9 and became a naturalized US citizen. She attended Falconer Elementary and Steinmetz Academic Center. She received good grades, took A.P. and honors courses but her dream was to be a dancer and artist… and neuro surgeon. She also attended Foreman high school during 7th and 8th grades for math. She was active in art club, track, cross country, and was senior class secretary. In her junior year she had enough credits to graduate but without direction and knowing how to pay for college she signed up for the Army reserves although she trained weekly with the Marines and poolees. She decided to finish her senior year and at the MEPS station she scratched off Army and signed up for Marine Corps active duty.

The recruiter was livid but she knew it in her heart it was the best decision especially since the Marines training wasn’t any shorter just because she was female. Anna arrived at Paris Island South Carolina on Father’s Day 1992 at the age of 17. It was a difficult training yet it seemed like it was right where she belonged.  It was definitely a test not for the faint of heart. She graduated with a meritorious promotion.

Immediately after that she did a TAD for recruiting duty for several months And then attended MOS School as an 0411 in Little Creek Virginia. She did another 30 days on TAD for recruiting duty. This eventually earned her another meritorious promotion. Anna finally arrived at MCAGCC at 29 palms California. She was attached to 1st Marine division 7th Marines, RCT-7 or Regimental Combat Team-7.  It was one of the main units in Operation Restore Hope in Somalia. After the return of her unit she received a meritorious mast and was promoted to Cpl. Her units commanding officer was none other than Gen.”MadDog” Mattis.

Anna held several billets during her time in the Marine Corps as well as cross training as an ammo tech. She also began classes with the Marine Corps Institute as well as a junior college on base. Unfortunately what seemed like a career turned short by an 5-ton truck accident, and she was honorably discharged.  She considers earning that Eagle Globe and Anchor as one of the proudest moments in her life. 

Anna returned to Illinois in 1995 and lived in Hoffman Estates while attending college and working as a waitress full-time.  She attended Harper College and Northeastern Illinois University. She worked in accounting in the construction field for over 20+ years. She also worked part-time as a certified peer support specialist at TLS Veterans and assisting the healthy mind healthy body’s program for NISRA.

She loves art and continues to do it as much as possible.  She is always supporting organizations through charitable work. She is a lifetime member of the McHenry County Marine Corps League Unit #1009 and supports Toys for Tots in both McHenry and Kane County’s. She lived in Algonquin for 17 years before moving to the 5acre home in Marengo in 2016 with her husband of over 20 years and their two sons. 


Pvt. First Class Gerald Wright – US Army – Post Korean War



Gerald E. Wright was born in rural McLean County on April 14, 1935 to Floyd and Lucille Wright, where he lived until he was three.

At the age of three, he moved to Union, IL.  He attended Union Elementary School and then Marengo High School, where he played both Football and Basketball, and graduated in 1954.

Following graduation from high school, he enlisted in the U.S. Army on August 1, 1954. After completing his Basic Training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, he was assigned to the 4th Armored Division , stationed in Stuttgart, West Germany, where he served as a Private First Class (PFC) with both an Artillery unit and a Transportation company until he was honorably discharged in 1956.

He returned to Marengo and married Janet P. Suddeth, living on Coral Road, Rt. 23, and eventually purchasing a home at 200 8th Street, where they still reside to this day.  Together, they raised three children: Randy (1958-2016), Kathy (Rick Donahue) Smith (1958-), and Shari (Mark) Kubiak (1965 -) Gerald has three grandchildren: Alicia Smith, Daniel Smith (1989-2006), and Tanner Wright.

For 42 years, he was employed at Arnold Engineering Co. in the Tool and Die Department and retired in 2000.

He has always had a love of raising animals, such as chickens, goats, cattle on his small farmette, as well as growing a variety of vegetables and berries in his garden plots.  He is also well known for distributing his extra eggs and vegetables to his neighbors, as well as mowing numerous neighborhood yards with his rider mower, or snow-blowing driveways if anyone needed an extra hand.

He is active with the First Methodist Church, loves the Moose and breakfast at the Marengo Café, as well as knowing virtually everyone in town.



2019 Hometown Hero Banners

Lance Corporal George Bauman – USMC – Vietnam


George A. Bauman born January 17, 1950 in Elgin, Illinois.  The first son of Harold and Virginia Bauman.  Grew up in Marengo attending Zion Lutheran School and Marengo Community High School.  Graduated Class of 1968.  George participated in sports – baseball, basketball and football.  He was quarterback his junior and senior years of two undefeated teams.  Classes of 1967 – 1968 started the undefeated string of games which numbered 45.  The classes of 1967 and 1968 were conference champs in baseball, basketball and football.  Do not think any other classes have ever done that.  In basketball, George led the Shark Conference his senior year in scoring with a 22 point average, scoring over 550 points.  This being done before the 3 point shot was started. After graduation, he attended Western Illinois University for one year before entering the USMC.  George took boot camp at Marine Corp Recruit Depot in San Diego, California in 1969.  After boot camp and basic infantry training at Camp Pendleton, he was sent to Vietnam as a 0311 Rifleman.  George was assigned to a Combined Action Platoon.  A CAP unit consisted of 8 – 10 Marines, a Navy Corpsman and a number of Popular Forces.  A PF was a local Vietnamese militia, too young or too old to be in the Army of Republic of Vietnam.  The CAP program was designed to protect the local villages and hamlets.  The CAP Marines lived in and around the villages alongside the local villagers and their families.  During the day, the Marines would run patrols and provide training, security and civic action – medical services to the village people.  At night, they would set ambushes to prevent VC from attacking, infiltrating and harassing the local villagers and elders.  George’s CAP unit, just outside of Danang, was located in what they called the “Rocket Belt”.  Close enough for VC to fire rockets at the Danang airport.  His CAP unit was there to prevent rocket attacks. George was awarded:

  • Vietnamese Campaign Medal
  • Vietnam Service Medal – with 3 stars
  • National Defense Medal
  • Good Conduct Medal
  • Combat Action Ribbon
  • Rifle Marksman Designation

After Vietnam, George ended his Marine career as a Military Policeman (MP).  Once Honorably Discharged, he returned to college at WIU and graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree.  George married Paula S. Osborne in 1972.  Paula the daughter of Dale and Janet Osborne, also local Marengo residents, owned the Marengo–Union Funeral Home.  George and Paula have 3 children – Sarah, Colin and Brittany.  All living and working in the Marengo – McHenry County area.  George is the owner of the Marengo Insurance Agency -along with his daughter, Brittany.



Private John William Benton – US Army – WWI


John William Benton

PVT US Army 1918-Armistice WWI

John W. Benton was born February 1, 1894 in Union to William & Rebecca Benton, only one of seven to survive.  John attended area schools until the fourth grade.  He was chauffeur for E.D. Patrick in 1916 at the age of 22. In 1918 John enlisted because it was his duty to do so. He returned after the Armistice to his chauffeur job and his girl friend Meta Ulrich whom he married January 1, 1921. They had one daughter Margaret. He also had 6 grandchildren, 11 great grand and now great, greats survive him.

In 1935 his wife passed away and in 1937 he wed Gail Webb. They were together over 40 years. He had many jobs over the years – working for BJ Arnold, working at the National sewing machine factory and helping build Marengo High School and the Baptist parsonage. In 1931 he started his own business – Benton Garage. In 1970 at the age of 76 he sold his business and started a job with the city as a parking meter attendant. He was Sgt. of  Arms for the legion for over 45 years and was a charter member. He was a fireman from 1912-1971 at one time being chief. He and his wife Gail were responsible for putting the flags up on main street for the holidays and for putting flags on the graves of area veterans. On Memorial Day he laid the wreath in the cemetery for all the vets up until he died. He passed away in 1985 at age 91.



Private 1st Class Bobby Carroccia, US Army – WWII



Ubaldo “Bobby” C. Carroccia

US Army – Private First Class  June 26, 1041 to December 3, 1943 WWII

Ubaldo Carroccia was born October 6, 1918 in Lenola, Italy.

In 1937, at the age of 19, Mr. Carroccia migrated to the United States in search of the American Dream. He entered the United States legally at the Port of Entry in New York City.

On June 26, 1941, Mr. Carroccia voluntarily joined the Army of the United States. He was stationed at Ft. Bliss in El Paso, Texas and at Camp Grant in Rockford , Illinois. For a short period of time, he was stationed in Newfoundland, Canada.

Sometime during his time in Army, Mr. Carroccia became a citizen of the United States.

On January 31, 1941, Mr. Carroccia was married to Mary Giacone who was born in the United States, but raised in Sumbaca di Sicilia, Italy. Together, they had four children: Eugene, Nicolo, Carmela and John. They were married for 71 years.

On December 3, 1943, Mr. Carroccia received an Honorable Discharge. His last rank was Private First Class.

In 1948, Mr. Carroccia moved to Marengo with his family. He lived in Marengo with his family until the time of his death.

Mr. Carroccia as was known as “Bobby.” By trade he was a cobbler. He enjoyed his trade and being able to provide for his family. He was a proud member of the American Legion and served as Post Commander. He was very proud to be a citizen of the United States, and he loved the people of Marengo.

In July 2012, Mr. Carroccia passed away at the age of 94.

Mr. Carroccia was proud to serve his nation in the US army, but he did not consider himself a hero. Rather, he viewed the he had a job to do and he did it to the best of his ability, so together those that served could create a better nation. He believed the real heroes are those who were not able to come home.




Staff Sergeant John Cooper – US Army – Korean Conflict 



John was born in Chicago on April 7th 1933 to Beatrice Lillian Cooper and John Anthony Cooper. John was the only  son of four children (John, Lynn, Betty, and Violet).  John currently has one surviving sister in Arizona.

The following are the events as best that John can recollect:

After enlisting on October 12th 1952, John was sent to Fort Sheridan in Chicago, then transferred to Fort Knox Kentucky. In those 16 weeks of heavy-weapons infantry training  in the 3rd Armored Division. He was then sent to Camp Stoneman in California to await his destination.

In 1953, John was transferred to Okinawa (BIVE) where he was placed on the 29th Regimental Combat Team until November of 1954 until those colors were retired. John then became a member of the 75th Regiment in “Merrill’s Marauders” in the Ryukyus Command. It was there that John became a Staff Sergeant serving in that occupational force in Okanawa until he was honorably discharged September 22nd, 1955.

Military honors include the “National Defense Service Award”, the title of “Sharp Shooter”, and his unit received the “Presidential Unit Award”. 

After his service, John married Geraldine in Chicago in February 1957, and had one daughter, Kristin Ottolino.  John became an Aeronautical Engineer for Allen Aircraft Radio Corporation in Des Plaines, Illinois. He married Anne Selep in 1987 and stayed with her in Chicago until his retirement.

After his retirement, John and Anne moved to Marengo in 2006 where John became a widower in 2012. During a brief illness, his daughter moved John into her home in Marengo where he resides today. At 86 years old, John is healthy and happy, living with his daughter and his only grandchild, Rio Ottolino.


Private 1st Class Donald Fischer – US Army – WWII



Donald Otto Carl Fischer (Dutch)

Army PFC

June 14, 1943 – October 24, 1945 WWII

Donald O.C. Fischer born September 2, 1924 – died June 24, 1998

He was baptized September 4, 1924 and the son of Albert Fischer and Martha Abraham. By the 1930’s he was living on North Page St. and confirmed April 10, 1938 at Zion Lutheran Church Marengo.  Donald was married November 24, 1946 in his home by Rev. Schaefer from Zion to Margaret E. Kieser.

Military: June 14, 1943 Camp Grant/Honorable discharge. March 23, 1945 rifleman combat infantry man June 26, 1944 Eastern mandated Island Campaign Foreign Service 10 mall days. Member of 12 man rifle squad in combat SW Pacific theatre. Fired M-1 rifle and went on scouting patrols to observe enemy positions and strength.

Children: Don, Jim, John and Ron

Occupation: Trailer truck driver and heavy equipment, dug a lot of basements in Marengo and moved snow. He also worked for Griebels.

Decorations: Asiatic –Pacific theatre ribbon (Saipan), One Bronze Campaign Star, Good Conduct Ribbon, Combat Infantry Ribbon and a purple Heart.

While in Saipan  he was wounded with incoming artillery shells . He spent months in Hawaii in a hospital and then Michigan for re-hab.

Don passed away on June 24, 1998.



Staff Sergeant Dorothy Johnson – USMCWR – WWII



Staff Sergeant

Dorothy Marie Johnson

Served in the USMCWR

(United States Marine Corp Women’s Reserve)

13 November 1943 to 14 January 1946


The year was 1943 and the United States was in the middle of bitter war that we all know as W.W.II. Dorothy Marie Johnson had been trying for over a year to be accepted in the Armed Forces.

The Navy didn’t want her because of her Hay Fever and Allergies. Dorothy had been working for two local physicians in Rock Island and was quite able to administer her own allergy shots but the Navy didn’t want anything to do with her. Jokingly Dorothy always has stated “Maybe the Navy thought I would turn into a drug addict!”

Then one day in 1943, Dorothy received a call from her cousin, Julia Robb Minor (Julie Benell was her stage name), who had a radio talk show in Dallas, Texas. One of her guest that week had been a Women Recruiter from the Marines and guess what, she had allergies herself!

Dorothy did her Basic Training at Camp LeJeune, NC. where she made PFC (Private First Class) straight from Boot Camp. From basic she was sent TAD (Temporary Assigned Duty) to Cherry Point, NC. where she awaited further assignment.

That assignment turned out to be North Island Naval Base off San Diego, CA. Her second assignment was at El Toro, CA. Most her time was spent at El Toro where she was assigned to ABG2 (Air Base Group 2). Her commanding officer was a Col. Parsons.

In January of 1946, Dorothy’s mother fell down a flight of stairs. Her mother’s doctor had contacted the Red Cross who in turn contacted the authorities at ABC2. Dorothy was given an emergency leave of absence but unknown to her they had also authorized an Emergency Discharge. So Dorothy went home to take care of her mother, for what she thought was going to be week to 10 day leave, that turned into the end of her career in the Marines.

Dorothy was truly saddened by this. She knew that she should be home with her mother but she loved the Marines and the job she was doing! It was a sad day all around for Dorothy Marie Johnson!



Corporal E-4 Tony Lodl – USMC – Vietnam


Tony Lodl

Corporal E-4 USMC 

Tony was born in 1949 to an Italian, Bohemian family. Raised on the West side of Chicago in a diverse neighborhood.  After graduating St. Phillips High School, Tony joined the United States Marines.  Tony served as a mortar instructor during the Vietnam War.  After serving his country, Tony was accepted on the Chicago Police Department where he served 30 plus years on the west side of Chicago. Tony was made Detective after receiving over 90 accommodations.   He worked the tact team undercover for gang violence, narcotics and homicide.  Upon retirement, Tony and his wife moved to Marengo 15 years ago.  Tony helps coordinate the Marengo Union Toys for Tots Campaign.  


Staff Sergeant Victor Mortensen – US Army – Korean Conflict 



Victor was born in Marengo on September 21, 1930 to Charles and Clara (Keller) Mortensen.  He was the youngest of three children and the only son.  Victor’s parents farmed on shares and moved several times during his childhood in and around the Marengo area.  Victor graduated from Marengo Community High School at the age of 16 and went to work for a local contractor and had the benefit of working alongside his cousin Donald Krueger as a carpenter until duty called and he was drafted into the Army to serve in the Korean Conflict.

The following is a timeline of his time of service in his words: “On October 1, 1951 I was inducted into the Army at Fort Sheridan in Chicago, IL.  From there I was sent to Camp Chaffee, Arkansas where I spent the next four days until I was transferred to Fort Sill, Oklahoma. While at Fort Sill I took infantry basic training for eight weeks and then went through eight more weeks of artillery training and fire direction school.  The next stop was Fort Lawton, Washington where I boarded a boat to Camp Drake, Japan where I spent three days, drew supplies, and boarded the same boat to Incheon, Korea.  I arrived at Incheon on April 1, 1952 and was assigned to Baker Battery 17th Field Artillery Battalion.”

“While at Fort Sill we trained on 105 Howitzers which at that time I thought was heavy artillery.  When I arrived at Baker Battery 17th Field Artillery and while waiting to be assigned, the weapon closest to where I was being processed received a fire mission.  When that round was fired I had my first taste of heavy artillery and believe me, I was ready to rotate.  After being reviewed by the commanding officer I was assigned to #4 Gun Section where I remained until I rotated.  Having a farm and construction background, I was assigned as an Assistant Prime Mover Operator. Approximately one month later, the regular operator rotated and I became the operator.”

“The Prime Mover Operator stayed with the gun crew rather than in the motor pool.  The Prime Mover was a M4 18 ton all track vehicle.  When living with the gun crew I was filling in all the duties with the cannoneers when I wasn’t driving or pulling maintenance on the vehicle.  The gun crew was happy to have the extra body so they would let me fill in any position. Consequently, during fire missions I filled in mostly as the telephone operator and the number one man whose duty was to fire the weapon.  Later in my tour of duty I would fill in as the assistant gunner or the gunner.  All of these positions kept me in close proximity to the weapon.  As the number one man, the only protection for the ears was to put the muscle of your right arm over your right ear and reach over the top of your head and put your middle finger in your left ear.  The noise and the back blast and concussion were terrific.  When we fell out for fire missions, most of the time our fatigues were bloused in our boots and by the time you had fired 2 or 3 rounds your boots were untied. We were always warned to keep our mouths open to help prevent concussion.  I did my best, but I still suffered hearing loss in both of my ears that plagues me to this day. Our unit was fortunate that we were only hit by incoming artillery about 10 times and only suffered a few injuries to some of our unit and no fatalities. When we fired counter battery it was very short. Two or three rounds and all would be quiet.”

“I entered the Army as a Private First Class and by the time I left Korea I had been promoted to the rank of Staff Sergeant. I was rotated from Korea to Fort Mason, California on the 28th day of May, 1953 and transferred to Camp Crowder, Missouri.  On July 15, 1953 I was separated from active duty with a total active time of 21 months and 15 days.”

When Victor returned from service, his parents decided to sell all of their equipment and retire from farming. Due to suffering from severe allergies, Victor supported their decision and took a job at Arnold Engineering as a machine operator.  At the time of his retirement 38 years later he was the 1st shift foreman for Production Machine Shop and Finish Grind.  He also worked part time for several years at Perkin’s Shell Station.

On September 14, 1956 Victor married Carol Driver.  They have lived in the same home on E. Washington St. since 1965 and have raised three children (Sheryl, Scott and Steven).  Through their children they have seven grandchildren and one great grandchild Melissa and Matthew Vogel, Kristin (Mortensen) Talac, Eric Mortensen, Tanner Mortensen, Parker Mortensen, Mackenna Mortensen and Houston Vogel.  


Chief Warrant Officer Danny J Rudy – US Army – Vietnam


Dan Rudy was born on May 2, 1945.  Lived in Union, Illinois and attended Marengo High School. While at Marengo Community High School Dan was active in football, basketball and baseball. Dan went on to study at Bradley University and Weatherford College in Weatherford, Texas, but always knew he wanted to fly.  In 1964 that dream came true when he started to fly at Galt Airport.  Dan entered the United States Army in 1965 under the Warrant Officer Training program and helicopter flight school.  After earning his wings and bars, he was sent to Vietnam.

During the 18 months in Vietnam, he flew 1,634 hours of combat flying time and earned “The Distinguished Flying Cross”, Bronze Star, Meritorious unit commendation, 16 air metals, National Defense Service Metal, Vietnam Service Metal, Vietnam Campaign Metal, 3 overseas bars and the Good Conduct Metal.

Upon completion of his tour in Vietnam, he was assigned as a flight instructor teaching American and Vietnam Cadets how to fly helicopters.

Danny currently resides in Marengo. 




Corporal Allan Wilcox – USMC – Iwo Jima


 Allan Ernest Wilcox

Corporal, United States Marine Corps, 3rd Marine Division         

Dates of Service:  August 25, 1942 – September 23, 1945

Conflict:  WWII Pacific Theater of Operations.  January 15, 1943 – May 17, 1945

Allan E. Wilcox was born March 23, 1922 in Marengo IL.

He was raised by his parents Clarence and Mary Wilcox at 411 Maple St. in Marengo.

Allan was a 1941 graduate of Marengo Community High School.

Allan enlisted in the United States Marine Corps August 25, 1942.

During World War II, Allan was deployed to the South Pacific where he;

  • Participated in offensive and defensive action on Bougainville.
  • Participated in the capture and occupation of Guam.
  • Participated in the capture of Iwo Jima.

“Among the Americans who served on Iwo Island, uncommon valor was a common virtue.”

-Adm. Chester W. Nimitz

After serving in the Marine Corps, Allan returned to marry Crystalyn Hauschildt of Marengo on June 6, 1945.

They lived for a time in Allegan, MI where Allan worked for L. Perrigo Drug Co. as a line supervisor.

They returned to Marengo where, in 1951, Allan built the house in which to raise their family at 204 7th Ave.

Later, along with his brother-in-law Erwin Steffen, Allan would also build the house across the street at 205 7th Ave.

In Marengo, Allan worked as an iron moulder at the Marengo Foundry for 36 years.

He was Post Commander of the Marengo V.F.W., member of the Marengo American Legion and member of the Junior Chamber of Commerce(Jaycees).

Allan served as Marengo Township Clerk for 36 years.

Allan passed away September 2, 2004.

Siblings: David, Max, Ellwood, Dorothy, Harold(Martin), Betty, Mary, Walter and Nancy.

Children: John(Therese) Wilcox of Milford, MA., Paul Wilcox of Rockford, IL

Grandchildren: Angela Swanson, Katy(Taylor) Wieczorek, Michelle(Brad) Boyer of Colorado and Brittany(Joseph) Competello of New Jersey.

Great Grandchildren: Gavin Swanson, Olivia Swanson, Huck Wieczorek, Thatcher Wieczorek