Tree #1: Oak Tree
Eldon Lang was one of three brothers that served in World War II. They were 2-3 years apart in age, but all went to serve at the same time.
Eldon was in the Air Force and achieved the rank of sergeant. He mostly served in aircraft maintenance, but also had some flying experience.
He died in 1962 from heart disease at the age of 44. He did not talk about his service in the Air Force, however I know he had many close friends. He showed his family a picture of him and his fellow airmen with the saying “Lucky Seven”. I asked him about the meaning of “Lucky Seven”, and he only said “We came back and returned to our families.” I understood he did not want to talk about it, and it was very emotional to him, so that was the end of the discussion.
Dedicated by his son, Curt Lang of Sycamore
Tree #2: Sycamore Tree
Rank: Lieutenant Junior Grade (John) and Cadet (Leila)
Branch: Navy & Cadet Nurse Corps
Service: World War II
This 1945 photo shows my father, John A. Ronning, who served as a dentist, a Lieutenant JG in the US Navy and his wife, my mother, Leila S. Ronning who served as an RN in Cadet Nurse Corps. Together they served at Sampson Naval Base, in Geneva, New York, and Paris Island in Beaufort, South Carolina during WW 2. In 1952 John was recalled into military service during the Korean War and served at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, DC.
Following military service, John returned to Hinsdale, Il where he practiced dentistry for 45 years. John and Leila had 3 children, 8 grandchildren, and 18 great-grandchildren. They lived into their 90’s a full and blessed life. Throughout life, they were a team- in every way. They lived a life of service- to their God, their country, their community, and their family.
Dedicated by their daughter, Karen (Ronning) Lang of Sycamore
Tree #3: Tree TBD
Warren “Mack” McGee enlisted in the Navy on July 10, 1944, leaving his devoted wife Doris home with their first two children Tommy and Carolyn. After completing Basic Training, he was assigned to the SS Albert K. Smiley, listed as a Liberty ship built just months before he reported aboard. He was assigned to one of the ships’ two 20-millimeter Oerlikon anti-aircraft guns. After the war he was honorably discharged on January 22, 1946.
Mack was awarded 4 campaign ribbons for his service.
- European Theater Ribbon
- Asiatic Pacific Ribbon
- American Theater Ribbon
- Victory Ribbon
Dedicated by his children, Tommy, Carolyn (Sis), Ernie and Mark McGee
Tree #4: Tree TBD
Bob Wildenradt graduated from Sycamore High School in 1948 and spent the next four years in the U.S. Air Force.
Upon his discharge in 1952, he married his wife, Norma, and they moved to Champaign, IL, where Bob later earned an Industrial Engineering degree from the University of Illinois. Bob and Norma then moved back to Sycamore, where they’ve been ever since.
Dedicated by his wife, Norma, of Sycamore
Tree #5: Tree TBD
Magnus was stationed in New York. His primary responsibility was to plan and prepare all the mess responsibilities for his unit to travel overseas for combat in Europe. Here is a photo of Magnus playing baseball while stationed in New York.
After World War I ended, Magnus returned to Chicago where he married Henrietta Caroline Rienholtzen and raised their 4 children. Magnus worked at the Continental Bank and Trust Co of Chicago from age 13 to age 65 where he rose from a page to vice-president.
Dedicated by Chelsea McGhee, Jessica Swedberg and Nelson Lang and others for their great grandfather.
Tree #6: Tree TBD
Stanley Larson graduated from Rochelle High School, where he was an accomplished athlete, scholar and leader. He joined the Army in July 1943 and was assigned to the 99th Infantry Division. He died during the opening hours of the Battle of Bulge on December 16, 1944, being later awarded the Bronze Star Medal for his actions. His remains were left behind as the enemy advanced.
In 2001, after missing for 57 years, two Belgian members of the MIA Project recovered PFC Larson’s remains and he was returned to his family. He was buried at the Lawnridge Cemetery in 2002. His mother wrote this poem when he said good-bye to her on 22 July 1944.
You said that morning as you stood there
All dressed and ready to go
“Mother, it’s going to be years
Before I return to you”.
Dedicated by his nephew, Michael Larson, of DeKalb
Tree #7: Tree TBD
This tree is dedicated to all veterans of the American Revolutionary War. While Sycamore and the surrounding settlements wouldn’t be established for another 50 years or more, early settlers likely had family ties to our country’s first military members and certainly were beneficiaries of their sacrifices, as are we all today.
Tree #8: Tree TBD
Joe was an avid “Big Band” fan when he joined the Army. Although he aspired to be the next Gene Krupa, he wound up in training to be a radio and radar operator.
Joe spent most of his service time in the Asian Theater, primarily in India. Being a northerner, he always would remark about how hot the climate was in India. Joe spent his service time installing and operating tactical field radio transmitting and radar equipment. He became an expert in international Morse Code and utilized that expertise to send and receive messages on a daily basis. Like most of his brother World War II veterans, Joe didn’t really talk very much about his time in the service. However, he was a devoted patriot and if you spent any time with him, you knew that. One exception to sharing his story happened every year when he visited Mrs. Liebhaber’s class at North School where he would regale the students with his war stories.
Dedicated by his son, Jim Dombek, of Sycamore.
Tree #10: Tree TBD
Rather than be drafted into the Army or Marine Corps and sent to Vietnam, Larry instead joined the Navy with his future brother-in-law, Tim Holmes.
After boot camp, the Navy thought better and in August of 1968, sent Larry to Vietnam to ply the rivers of the Mekong Delta in support of the Mobile Riverine Force (PBRs and Swift Boats and the Army’s 9th Infantry). Assigned to the USS Madera County (LST-905) and the USS Page County (LST-1076), he supported the MRF by providing ammunition, food and other supplies for 18 months. After Vietnam, he was stationed at Norfolk, VA, Cape Canaveral, FL and Pearl Harbor, HI. In 1975, Larry, his wife Steph and their family (Jeremy, Scott, Carin & Katie) settled in Sycamore and he was in the insurance business.
Dedicated by his wife and children.
Tree #11: Tree TBD
Herb was drafted into service with the US Army on April Fools Day 1968. He choose to serve as a Medic with the 25th Infantry Division.
He was medically retired in 1970 after being awarded 3 Bronze Star Medals. The family moved to Sycamore in 1979. He was instrumental in setting up the DeKalb County Veteran’s Assistance Commission and served as its first Superintendent.
Dedicated by his wife, children and grandchildren.
Tree #12: Tree TBD
Bill Holmes was on Liberty Ship, SS Peter Silvester, when torpedoed on Feb. 6th, 1945 by German U-boat-862. The Liberty Ship had 174 crew consisting of several different service branches and 317 mules aboard to take them to their destination, The Burma Trail.
142 men scrambled aboard four life rafts and six life boats. Some were rescued after 2 days in the water. Bill’s group (92 men) were rescued by the Coast Guard ship, USS Corpus Christi, after 7 days, with 2 more rescues at 16 and 32 days. All men were taken to Australia to recover from their wounds and trauma from the incident. Bill was awarded the Purple Heart.
Bill’s daughter, Stephanie Forsberg, researched this incident and found four survivors of the SS Silvester, including Bill’s best friend.
Dedicated by his daughter, Stephanie Forsberg, of Sycamore.
Tree #13: Tree TBD
Terrence Edward Ward (Terry), September 5, 1934 to December 24, 2016. Terry graduated from Marquette University where he attended on a full Athletic Scholarship for football. Subsequently, he served 5 years as a U.S. Naval Aviator.
Following the Navy, Terry spent many successful years as a Senior Corporate Executive. After climbing the corporate ladder, Terry founded his first company in Aerecibo Puerto Rico and later started Viking Electronics in 1986. Terry credited his success with his military training. Terry had the most wonderful stories about his Naval Career and remained close friends with many of his Navy buddies for his entire lifetime.
Dedicated by his children, Terry Ward, Chris Ward, & Darby Dwyer.
Tree #14: Tree TBD
This tree is dedicated to all veterans of the Civil War. A number of Sycamore residents fought in the Civil War and 46 who perished are listed on our website here.
Tree #15: TBD
Ken enlisted in US Navy in 1966. He was trained at Great Lakes, Illinois in the use of radar. He married Juanita Carroll, his sweetheart from Waterman, Illinois at Great Lakes. They were transferred to San Diego, California in 1967.
He was assigned to the USS Black as a radarman and was sent to serve in the Vietnam War. Their assignment was to coordinate shore bombing for the support of the ground troops. Ken was also involved in many exciting events while serving in the Navy, some of which were in Hawaii, the Philippines, Japan, Midway, and Hong Kong. He was discharged in 1970 and they returned to Sycamore, Illinois where he served as Mayor for 16 years.
Dedicated by fellow Naval veteran and friend, Dan Hamingson.
Tree #16: TBD
Rolando was born in Laredo, TX. He was stationed in Paris, France 3 out of his 6 years in the Army. His primary responsibility in Paris was as a Special Carrier of top-secret documents by automobile and train, from one base to another in France for top military officials.
Rolando completed the remainder of his time in the service stationed in Germany and Maryland, WA. as a Telecommunication Specialist. Rolando met his wife Julia and were married in Paris, France. During their 54 years of marriage, they had 3 sons, 8 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren.
Dedicated by Manny Pena, of Sycamore.
Tree #17: TBD
Rod graduated from Sycamore High School as president of his class and in 1942 at 20 years old enlisted in the Army Air Force. He served in the Pacific Theater in China, Burma and India in aircraft support and repair, primarily for B-25 bombers engaged with Japan. He served for four years, achieving the rank of sergeant with two bronze battle stars and good conduct medal before being honorably discharged in January, 1946.
Rod had a younger brother, Jim Breunlin, who also served in the war with the Navy aboard a destroyer in the Pacific Theater. After military service Rod returned to Sycamore, attended the University of Illinois, married Harriett and raised a family of four children; Doug, Billy (deceased), Becky and Jim. He founded, owned and operated a heating, air conditioning and sheet metal business, Breunlin Sheet Metal, until his passing in 1979.
Dedicated by his son, Doug Breunlin, of Sycamore.
Tree #18: Tree TBD
This tree is dedicated to all Sycamore veterans of World War I. A number of Sycamore residents fought in the First World War and 11 who perished are listed on our website here.
Dedicated by corporate sponsor First Midwest Bank.
Tree #19: TBD
Kurt Peter Klein served in the United States Army from 1962-1965, including overseas in Japan during the Vietnam War. Following his service, he attended law school and became an attorney in 1972, prosecuting criminal cases on behalf of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.
He began his career in DeKalb County in 1977 as first assistant state’s attorney and was later a founding member of the Gallagher, Klein and Brady law firm. He was appointed to serve DeKalb County as a Judge in 1995 and was Presiding Judge for the county for 11 years, retiring in 2012. He was a leading force in creating the 23rd Judicial Circuit, facilitating the expansion of the DeKalb County Court House, and developing a safe house for at-risk youth.
Dedicated by his wife, Linda of Sycamore
Tree #20: Tree TBD
This tree is dedicated to all Sycamore veterans of World War II. A number of Sycamore residents fought in the Second World War and 32 who perished are listed on our website here.
Dedicated by corporate sponsor Sycamore DeKalb Chevy
Tree #21: TBD
Ben joined the Naval Reserve directly after graduating from high school, feeling the need to serve his country. Following his father’s footsteps, he served two years, then went on to college upon discharge.
Dedicated by his wife, Cindy, of Sycamore
Tree #22: Tree TBD
This tree is dedicated to all Sycamore veterans of the Korean War (1950-1953). Sycamore has one known fallen warrior in this war, Warren G. Harding.
Dedicated by an anonymous donor
Tree #23: TBD
David Dosier enlisted in the Army Reserves in 1987 and was commissioned as an officer in 1992. David served on active duty for the next 24 years, retiring in 2015. He was an Army aviator and had operational deployments in Saudi Arabia, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan.
David’s last assignment was as the Professor of Military Science at Northern Illinois University, which brought him and his wife, Dawn (Weaver), back to her hometown of Sycamore. Upon retirement, David and Dawn chose to stay in Sycamore, where he works for Northern Illinois University.
Dedicated by Curt Lang of Sycamore
Tree #24: Tree TBD
This tree is dedicated to all Sycamore veterans of the Gulf War (1990-1991).
Dedicated by corporate sponsor Comcast
Tree #25: TBD
Bob proudly served in the United States Air Force from November 1960 to November 1964. After technical training at Lowry Air Force Base in Denver, Colorado, he was stationed at Dow Air Force Base in Bangor, Maine as a member of the 75th Fighter Interceptor Squadron.
After his discharge, Bob worked as a television technician for several years in Mars Hill, Maine and then in Rockford, Illinois at WCEE-TV. Bob and his family moved to Sycamore in 1971. Continuing with his interest in electronics, Bob went on to receive his Bachelor of Science degree from Northern Illinois University. He and his wife owned and operated R. W. Brown Electronics, Inc. in Sycamore for 27 years. Bob called Sycamore his home until his passing in 2019.
Dedicated by his wife, JoAnn Brown
Tree #26: TBD
Walter (Lefty) Guzy was born on May 5, 1916. He was a lifelong Chicagoan. Wally was drafted into the Army in November, 1943. After completing Basic Training he landed on Omaha Beach 8 days after D-Day with other replacement solders.
Assigned to Patton’s 3rd Army as part of the 90th Infantry Division, he fought as a 30 cal machine gunner. He marched through France, Germany, and Belgium, fought in the Battle of the Bulge, and met up with the Russians at the Czechoslovakian border. He was awarded the Bronze Star and was promoted to Sergeant. He married Josephine in 1940, had 2 daughters, 3 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren. Two of the other memorable times in his life were attending the 3rd game of the White Sox 2005 World Series and being part of the Honor Flight in 2014. He passed away in 2017 at the age of 101.
Dedicated by Carol Buras, Diane and Bob Brown and Family
Tree #27: TBD
Peter Johnson and both of his brothers Frank and Wesley, served during WWII. Their mother was an immigrant from Denmark and was widowed when the boys were very young. She was so proud of the service her boys provided for her new country.
Peter left college to enlist in the Army after World War II started. He worked in communications in Saipan. During training before leaving for Asia, he married his high school sweetheart, Rhoda. Upon returning, Peter finished college and started a career in education. His father passed away during the depression and he credits many in Sycamore for helping his family during that time. He chose to work and raise his family of three children in the community he loved. He was an innovative teacher, coach and administrator in Sycamore for 34 of his 49 years in education. In his early 90’s, Pete went on an Honor Flight to Washington, D.C. where he was asked to participate in the Posting of the Colors at the beginning of a ceremony at the World War II Memorial. He enjoyed meeting and talking with his fellow veterans. Pete proudly wears his World War II veterans cap whenever possible.
Dedicated by his children, Jill Johnson Rahn, Rebecca Johnson Rahn and Peter N. Johnson
Tree #28: Tree TBD
HERE RESTS IN HONORED GLORY AN AMERICAN SOLDIER KNOWN BUT TO GOD.
Dedicated by donor Paul Michaels
Tree #29: TBD
Richard was actively involved in the Sycamore community, to include positions as Vice President of Seymour of Sycamore, Farmers and Merchants Bank Board of Directors, Twelve year member of the Sycamore School Board (serving at one time as President), Charter member of the Sycamore Education Foundation, Sycamore Chamber of Commerce and Sycamore Human Relations Commission member, Member of the Sycamore Lions Club, Elks Club, and Kiwanis Club and NIU Foundation Board member.
Dedicated by his daughters, Beth and Sue
Tree #30: TBD
First Lieutenant Robert L. Brown, Sr. was recipient of both the Bronze Star Medal and the Silver Star Medal. He earned the Silver Star for gallantry in 1945 for leading multiple teams’ attacks on the German Siegfried Line (a massive 390 mile defensive concrete series of forts) where he led different teams, capturing 9 pillboxes, 2 machine guns, and 25 prisoners.
He also personally destroyed an enemy machine gun and its crew of 5 with hand grenades. He never bragged about his war record and didn’t feel right taking any glory when so many had lost so much. He had no interest in guns or hunting. After WWII, he returned home, married, had a large family of 8, built a 2 story home and succeeded as a sales manager for Specialty Plywood Company in Franklin Park. He died in 1966 of arteriosclerosis at age 46. We pray and thank God for him!
Dedicated by the extended Brown family
Tree #31: TBD
Merle L Swedberg served in the U.S. Army Air Corps from 1929-1932. He is pictured here (on the right), with his hand on his hip.
Dedicated by Jim and Jessie Swedberg for their grandfather
Tree #32: Tree TBD
This tree is a symbolic dedication to all service members who are missing or held as a prisoner of war. According to the Pentagon’s Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office, there are currently 83,204 unaccounted for U.S. personnel, including 73,547 from World War II, 7,883 from the Korean War, 126 from the Cold War, 1,642 from the Vietnam War, and six from Iraq and other recent conflicts
Dedicated by the Sycamore Rotary Club
Tree #33: TBD
Maurice was born in Canton, IL and moved to Dixon, IL as a child. After marriage, he moved his family DeKalb. He joined the U.S. Navy in 1942. He served on Guam, building runways for the Air Corps. He was a Carpenter’s Mate (CM2c) and part of LST744.
He was in Mios Woendi in the Padaido Islands and mustered to Morotai Island on September 23, 1944 in the Halmahere Group during the large battle there for the Pacific Islands. After discharge in 1945, he moved with his family to Sycamore. His son, Ken Mundy, later became mayor of Sycamore.
Dedicated by is daughter-in-law, Juanita Mundy
Tree #34: TBD
Walter was born in Oconee, IL and was the eldest of 10 children. He left high school at 17 to take part in the Civilian Conservation Corps, where he planted trees from Decatur, IL to Rockford, IL along Route 51, among other tasks. After his family moved to Waterman, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps on February 16, 1942.
He served in the Pacific, mainly in Guam and surrounding islands. His unit maintained and repaired aircraft. He was hospitalized in December 1944 for injuries sustained from an artillery shell blast. He was part of the servicemen who were fed flour made from the Cycad bush, later discovered to be a neurotoxin. He later developed Parkinson’s Disease. He was discharged in 1945 and lived in Waterman, DeKalb and Sycamore. He was a member of the Sycamore Lions Club, along with several veteran’s groups. He was the father of Juanita Carroll Mundy.
Dedicated by is daughter, Juanita Mundy