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
Husband and wife, John and Leila Ronning, served at Sampson Naval Base in Geneva, NY and at Paris Island in Beaufort, South Carolina during World War II.
John was a dentist and was recalled to active duty in 1952 during the Korean War and served at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
Following his military service, John returned to Hinsdale, IL, where he practiced dentistry for the next 45 years. John and Leila had 3 children, 8 grandchildren and 18 great grandchildren. They lived into their 90s and had a blessed life together.
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
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 Michael Larson
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.
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, USS 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 USS Silvester, including Bill’s best friend.
Dedicated by his daughter.
Tree #13: Tree TBD
George Lawrence was born on February 24, 1932 in Burlington, IL. He was raised on the family farm on Lawrence Road – named after his family. He graduated from Burlington High School in 1950.
He enlisted in the National Guard in October of 1950 – December 1951. He was a Corporal in the Army during the Korean War from December 1951 – September 1953 where he worked as a mechanic. He married his wife, Marlene, in 1954. They moved to Sycamore in 1964 and went on to have 3 children, 12 grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren. George worked in construction with Jay P. Wade for many years and retired from the IL State Highway Department in 1991. He and his wife have enjoyed retirement ever since.
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.
Dedicated by corporate sponsor Northwestern Medicine.